It happens to all brands. They hit a moment when something effects their position and they do not know how to react. Something that potentially changes who they are and they are frozen, not sure what to say or how to act. Well take a lesson from “The Boss” – Bruce Springsteen.
The future of the E Street Band was in question when band member Danny Federici passed, and more recently, the crushing blow of the passing of “The Big Man,” Clarence Clemons. After Clemons death, many questioned whether the E Street Band would remain and what the future had in store.
Springsteen’s initial comments after the passing of Clemons were that the band would go on. If there were any questions to this, they were all put to rest in the opening concert of the 2012 Wrecking Ball tour at the Apollo Theater on March 9, 2012. By the fifth song Bruce proclaimed, “We are so glad to be with you tonight …and tonight we got some old friends and we have some new friends with us. But the E Street Band’s mission remains the same. We’re here to bring the power hour after hour … And we’re here to bring a smile to you’re your face. An extra beat to your heart. And to raise your spirits high in these hard times …” There was no question to the fact. The Boss clearly stated the brand was alive and well. (Lesson 1 – reinforce the strength and value of your brand.)
But it did not stop there. The Big Man was on everyone’s mind. Would The Boss address the issue weighing on so many, or would it be swept under the seats for fear of saying the wrong thing or stirring controversy. What do you think The Boss would do? In the same fifth song (My City in Ruins), Bruce did the band introductions. The E Street Band introductions are a legendary part of a Springsteen show typically on the last song of the main set or towards the end. They always culminated with the introduction of Clarence himself. Springsteen would most often precede Clemon’s intro with phraseology like, “Master of the Universe. More powerful than a locomotive. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No. It’s the Big Man on the saxophone, Clarence Clemons.” How would he fill this void?
Springsteen is the master of creating an emotional bond. On a break of “My City in Ruins” The Boss snaps, “Roll call.” Bruce introduces the entire E Street Band on stage – each received with a rousing roar. After all are introduced Bruce softly asks, “Are we missing anybody?” The crowd responds with a light and uncomfortable cheer. Bruce asks again, “Are we missing anybody,” this time with a little more sincerity and purpose. The crowd responds a bit stronger. And then Springsteen asks one more time, with conviction. He has the crowd in his hand and says “That’s right, we’re missing a few. But the only thing I can guarantee you tonight is that if you’re here, and we’re here, they’re here.” He then chants numerous times “that if you’re here, and we’re here, they’re here” as the songs builds back in. The Boss declared the brand/band is not only alive and well but convicted to its audience as well.
Springsteen addressed the change that might have disillusioned his audience. The fact is he did it head on and early. (Lesson 2 – Address the issue and do it in a timely manner.) The end result, new times, new challenges, but reinforced value and emotional bond.
Now you might say, sure you don’t have the legendary Apollo Theater and stadiums across the world to voice your cause. I would also tell you that Bruce did not start playing stadiums. He talks about playing supermarket openings and Veteran’s Halls. He built a long term following.
And what do you have to build a following. You have social media. And if you work to build your craft (as The Boss put it in his keynote speech at SXSW this year), you will have a strong voice and audience using social media.
Social media is your stage. Use it to reinforce your brand. Use it to deliver value and entertainment to yield an emotional response from audience. A conviction from your audience. Use it to take on issues that plague the minds of your target audience. Address issues straight on and timely.
Make It Happen,
PS – You can listen to this entire Springsteen audio segment from The Apollo that I referred to. It was during the song My City in Ruins recorded live from the Apollo here: