Bohemian Branding

by | Nov 27, 2018

I SEE A LITTLE SILLOETTO

As a young man in 1992, I attended a movie featuring a song that introduced me to a musical group that I had never heard before. Wayne’s Worldintroduced not only me but a whole new generation to the musical genius of a band from England known as Queen. After the movie all we could think about was that song—where did this song come from, and how had we not heard it before? My father informed me of the name of the song and that it was available on the album A Night at the Opera. With my new-found knowledge in mind, I headed to the local mall, and in the FYE I was able to find the album and began my relationship with this musical group that peaked before I was born and whose lead signer had passed away a year before I heard their music. Over the years, I have learned more about Queen’s musical masterpiece, Bohemian Rhapsody, and the work that went into it. In learning about it I realized that it is a song that, from its creative beginnings to the final note, parallels the branding journey.

The work and dedication that these four men (Freddie Mercury, Brian May, John Deacon, and Roger Tyler) put into creating their work is a testament to the effort needed to create something that lasts. The work they put in and what was needed to get the song to be what they wanted can be seen as a parallel to the work branders put in every day.

Do the Fandango

Much like entrepreneurs today, Freddie Mercury had an idea. We get an idea in our heads that we need to share with the world; we get an idea for a product or an offering and it becomes all we think about. Only in Mercury’s mind, rather than an offering or a product, it was a song. For many of us we work to ‘flesh out’ our ideas. We work on them, often for long periods of time, before we begin to share it with others. It is reported that Mercury began working on the song in the 1960s, long before he worked with the other members of Queen to create the song.

Once we get our idea to a place, we want to share it with others, be it friends, family, or coworkers. Often, we setup little meetings, or get together to share what we have been working on. For Mercury, he brought in his producer and after playing the opening portion simply said, ‘this is where the opera section comes in!’ Then they left to eat. Mercury also had to get his band on his side, of which May has said they thought the blueprint was ‘worthy of work.’

With his bandmates at the ready and on board, they set out to create this song that had been in Mercury’s mind for a long time. Much like entrepreneurs today, Mercury then had to lead his team, to get the final piece to match what he envisioned. The process, however, was not an easy one. It’s not something that would be accomplished in one hour or one recording session. The band had to use the resources and technology that were available to them; they built upon the processes that were established before by groups such as the Beatles. Only now, Queen had better technology and was able to build upon the experience of those that came before.

The band would go on to rehearse and record and fine-tune everything in their quest to bring the song out. As mentioned, this wasn’t something that would take on hour or just one recording session. It is not uncommon for songs to be produced in 4-5 hours, and this is typical for songs that last 3 minutes. For Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen took 4 months. There were days where the band would spend up to twelve hours a day recording each of their vocal parts. This is comparative to the branding process in that good brands can be built quickly, but great brands take time—real time.

To record the famous chorus, the band had to record over 160 tracks of vocal overdubbing. This is a process easily handled today, but at the time they were only capable of up to 24-track recordings. This meant recording two or three tracks and then combining them “down” into a single track.

In the end, Queen was able to create the song Mercury had been envisioning, as well as a near 6 minute song that defied standards. The song carried the listener on a 5:55 minute progression through 4 different music styles. At first, it’s a cappella, then moves into a ballad, followed by an opera, then culminates in a rock song.

Any Way the Wind Blows

The process that Queen went through in creating their most iconic song is not the only thing that branders can identify with. In releasing their song, the band faced naysayers. Pressed that the song was simply “too long,” executives would not back the band in releasing the song as a single. As we set out to create our brands, we often face the potential voices of naysayers, and these voices can be dangerous to the success of our brand. We need to fight for our brands, fight for what we believe in, and ensure that our vision is presented in the end. One of the biggest, loudest voices is our own. We’re able to overcome our doubts and the voices of our distractors.

After fighting with executives who were refusing to release Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen utilized one of their brand advocates to help with the success of the song—DJ Kenny Everett. The band gave him a reel-to-reel copy of the song, with the instruction “not to play it,” all the while knowing that he would. Everett played snippets for his listeners who began to demand more. Everett eventually played the song 14 times in two days. Listeners turned out to their local music stores looking for the single, only to be told that it had not been released yet. Everett’s radio playing resulted in an American DJ, Paul Drew, playing the song at the same time. The band, through the use of an ambassador, successfully established demand for their product. If you have been reading or following BrandingPowerfor any time you know that you need to engage brand advocates and how important they are to the success of your brand.

Even if you’re not a fan of the song Bohemian Rhapsody or the group Queen, you can’t help but realize the success the song has had. Over 40 years after its original release, the band has had results that, if carried over to any other industry, would be considered successful. It wasn’t easy, and they still had to overcome those who thought it wouldn’t succeed, but they were able to produce a success that can be an inspiration to anyone working on their dream today.

Ideas To Make Your Brand Better Now:

  • Establish a support structure of people who will help you establish the brand your looking for
  • Commit today, that you’re going to prove your naysayers wrong
  • Determine who your brand advocates are utilize them
  • Listen to Bohemian Rhapsodythrough headphones with your eyes closed

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