How MJ became a brand

100+million copies sold (and counting...)

100+million copies sold (and counting...)

Branding is a really huge buzzword in the marketplace right now. Though its been the same for ages, it seems that with the rise of technology lately all anyone cares about is their personal brand. Maybe it has to do with the worldwide realization that: no matter WHAT business you’re in, you are in the business of sales…

Add to that the old adage of Mr Jeffrey Gitomer “People hate to be sold, but they LOVE to buy” and it becomes even further apparent that having a strong personal ‘brand’ is of paramount importance.
How do you create a brand that makes others want to talk about YOU when they’re at work or play?

Mktg guru John Quelch has some ideas… Are there any missing to you?

Start early. Michael began entertaining at the age of four. His career as the uniquely young lead singer in The Jackson Five began with the Motown label at the age of 10. National recognition came with his appearance on the Ed Sullivan show.

Let go. Jackson went solo in 1972 at the age of 13. As with Diana Ross and the Supremes, there came a point where the group constrained rather than aided the further development of his talent.

Break out. Jackson was a multidimensional entertainer. His expert dancing could be showcased via the new medium of music videos. MTV and Jackson rose in tandem when MTV premiered the Jackson video “Thriller” in 1982 from the album of the same name. The album went on to sell over 100 million copies.

Get help. Jackson benefited from his long-term professional relationship with producer and songwriter Quincy Jones. He often acknowledged the inspiration he received from James Brown, Diana Ross and other artists.

Be visible. All memorable brands have their unique visual trademarks. Jackson understood brand image and how to build it with his fans. The moonwalk that we could all try to imitate. The glove. The uniform. Neverland.

Go global. Jackson’s music and videos easily transcended national boundaries, as well as race, age and gender. “We Are the World”, written by Jackson and Lionel Ritchie in 1985, cemented his global appeal. Jackson sold almost half his 750 million titles outside the United States.

Crown yourself. Elvis was already “The King”, so Jackson christened himself “The King of Pop.” The professional contributions–including 13 Grammies–were so substantial that the moniker stuck. The flawed personal life – the lawsuits, the failed marriages, and the Wacko Jacko incidents like dangling his child from a Berlin hotel balcony – chipped away at Jackson’s professional brand equity but never eroded it.

Be vulnerable. We cannot relate to icons without imperfections. Jackson was quirky, eccentric, mysterious. For all his wealth and professional excellence, he was – perhaps understandably – flawed, misguided, and sad, but none would say unkind.

Give back. Denied a normal childhood, Jackson was amazingly generous to disadvantaged children. Some 39 charities benefited significantly from his support. He also collaborated on Live Aid with other entertainers.

Die young. The sold-out 50 concert tour of Europe to start next month will never happen. The likelihood of a Jackson comeback will forever be debated. Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe James Dean, and now Michael Jackson – all leave to our imagination thoughts of what might have been. When a brand icon is torn from us prematurely, unexpectedly, it figures even larger in our collective memory.

John Quelch


3 Responses to “How MJ became a brand”

  1. […] according to john quelch By ebonyeyez Leave a Comment Categories: Uncategorized How MJ became a brand 100+million copies sold (and […]

  2. This article is right on the mark. (I don’t particularly care for the “die young” statement as party of my branding .)

    To get your brand in the minds of the public you have to be consistant in your activities, appearances, associations, and area of expertise so that people can remember you, recall you, recognize you whenever they hear your name or see your logo or icons. And, lastly, most importantly, call you or purchase your product or service when their related needs or wants come up.

    A prime example of this is the battle between Coke and Pepsi for brand market share superiority. If there is an empty space on a wall–they put their name on it. If there’s and empty space in a publication–they put their name on it. If there’s a sports event — they put their name on it. If there’s a community event supported by their customers–they put their name on it. If there’s a charity event — they put their name on it. And everything they put their name is about promoting the message that your life is more enjoyable with their product in your hand and in your mouth. We have all come to recognize Coke and Pepsi as a reliable source of refreshment.

    A lot of the striving talent haven’t put their name on as basic a thing as a business card and wonder why they don’t hear back from people they meet at shows, events and meetings.

    I’m always amazed at how my little operation is heard about in places across the country I’ve never been and may never go to in my life. Yet, it seems that when someone hears about Bama Hip Hop, from whatever source, they already know that our main activity is to assist unsigned artists get seen and heard in front of an audience. While we still have a lot of work to do for our future it looks like our branding efforts are paying off. or

    Are yours?

  3. Great read! Michael laid the blueprint for branding he was a genius calculating what seemed to be his every move. I wish he hadn’t gone so soon but he’d done it all. Thanks Haziq for sharing and keep up the great blog!!!

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