Stretching the Beatles' Brand

John O’Leary, who didn’t play with the Beatles, but DID play with some of their contemporaries, gives us this entry:

40 years ago this month the Beatles—already the biggest rock & roll band in the universe—recorded the song “Yesterday.” This sweet, melancholic tune—featuring Paul McCartney’s plaintive voice accompanied only by acoustic guitar and string quartet—was such a radical change in musical direction for the Beatles that they were afraid to release it as a single in the UK, fearing it would compromise their rock & roll image. Eventually, they released it as a single in the US, and it became a #1 hit, one of the most critically acclaimed ballads in pop music history, and the most recorded song of all time! Interesting turn of events: the group had mixed feelings about releasing a new product, fearing it might dilute the brand, yet it wound up extending the brand. This and subsequent Beatles songs—many of them exquisitely crafted and stunningly creative—earned the band new fans who saw them not so much as cute mop-top rockers, but as pop art Picassos. Pretty good story line here. “A mega-successful organization at the top of its game throws caution to the wind and breaks its own mold with a revolutionary line of new products.” One question: why is this the exception in business? A better question: what can your company learn from this?

John OLeary posted this on June 30, 2005, in Branding.
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