Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Eugene and Nothing in Between

Eugene routinely offends people.

His views on sex, marriage and money don't always conform to the "norm".

He has claimed to have slept with thousands of women all over the world, but maintains he has never been drunk, high on drugs or smoked cigarettes.

Eugene is also co-founder of one of the world's most enduring brands. He has launched numerous other successful business ventures to the point where many consider Eugene a marketing gene-i-us.

The group he co-founded with Paul Stanley in 1971 has smashed concert attendance records all over the world, racked up 24 gold and platinum albums and has generated millions of dollars in merchandising sales from more than 2500 licensed products.

Came across a note from Gene Simmons of KISS recently at http://www.simmonsrecords.com/ and in part here is what the Demon of Rock had to say about life, business and branding:

"No one taught me what I know. I had to go out there, dig and scratch and scrounge up the bits and pieces of "the puzzle". And, it's never easy. Whenever I see new talent, or an ambitious young person, I always try to take time to sit, listen and then comment, critique, advise, offer some access when applicable. Because to become an entrepreneur, you must create your own business model, do your own research, fund it yourself and ultimately do it yourself.

And, this is not something you can learn in school. What I do isn't taught. I had to create myself. From top to bottom.

I gave myself the name Gene Simmons. I decided I didn't have to keep my given name. It didn't work. Yes. A name can help or hinder. It's your brand. And brands need to have something people respond to. Archibald Leech isn't as good as Cary Grant. Bernard Schwartz isn't as good as Tony Curtis. And Chaim Witz isn't as good as Gene Simmons.

I wanted to be in a rock band. But I also knew the world was filled with failed rock bands. So, the first thing was, to find band mates that shared a vision. Not an easy task. Then, find your position in the marketplace (who are you...what kind of band, who is your potential audience). It's almost impossible. But it IS possible. And only you have to decide all of the above and especially if you have the guts to devote the time, effort and the blood, sweat and tears (lots of em, don't worry) it takes to make it.

35 years later and KISS is about to embark on a Stadium Tour of South America, then swing up to Canada for some shows, then the US, then Europe, then Asia....But it's not the only thing I've done .I have managed other acts including LIZA MINNELLI, JENNI MULDAUR, DEAD OR ALIVE for a short time, and too many others to mention here. I discovered VAN HALEN. I started acting in movies .and on TV. SIMMONS RECORDS has been reborn at Universal Music Canada. SIMMONS COMICS GROUP publishes three comic books, SIMMONS BOOKS recently published my 3rd Best Seller and with SIMMONS ABRAMSON MARKETING, we market and brand the IndyCar Series, including the Indy 500. We also represent FIND.COM. GENE SIMMONS FAMILY JEWELS (seen in 34 countries around the world).I created other TV Shows including MY DAD THE ROCK STAR, and then there is my clothing line with Canada's Dussault Custom Inc. as well as many keynote speaking engagements.

The above may come off as self serving. And, you're damn right it is. Some of you might think, "Who the hell does he think he is."

Precisely the point. Who DO you think you are? Are you special?

Do you have the goods to stand in front of strangers and convince them you're what they need in their lives? That's always been my mantra. You buy the Vacuum Cleaner SALESMAN. Not the Vacuum Cleaner. It’s the Messenger. NOT necessarily the message.

And the most important point -- the world doesn't need what you have to offer. You're not a farmer, policeman or teacher. They're important. You and I are not. What we do, the world could very easily live without. And yet, if you succeed, you can make more money, have more power and get better seats in restaurants than heads of state.

IF you've got the goods and you're willing to work at it 24/7.....'til you drop dead.

Vacation is for wimps.

I've said my piece.

Your turn.

Gene Simmons has never experienced a shortage of self-confidence or a lack of critics. There would be as many people digesting this rant who admire Simmons and what he stands for as those who despise him. You won't find many who are indifferent with their opinion of the God of Thunder – either as a person or a brand. And that's part of the secret ingredient mixed into many of the great brand-building recipes.

Nothing in-between.

It's either black or white.

DOES YOUR BRAND?: Attract customers and employees who fall head over heels in love with what your business stands for?

DOES YOUR BRAND?: Rock to the sound of your own Gibson guitar powered music? March to the beat of your own Pearl drums?

DOES YOUR BRAND?: Avoid the great divide; a swampy, Valley of Indifference that lies between diametrically opposed emotional mountains called Love and Hate?

The perceived safety of the "mushy middle”, the “zone of mediocrity” has landed some of the world’s biggest and most recognized brands on the scrap heap. K-Mart, John McCain, the Big Three Automakers and many others are learning the hard way in 2009 how the Valley of Indifference is quicksand for a brand.

Evidently, Eugene figured this shit out a long time ago as KISS became the biggest-selling concert and merchandising act in the world, with over 2,500 licensed products.

The degree to which someone pushes the brand envelope is usually in direct proportion to the level in which they feel secure in their own skin. Deep insecurities often manifest themselves in many businesses occupying an already jammed, crammed and overcrowded slot marked BORING. That's when marketing efforts, energy and dollars sink in the Valley of Indifference; as customers are served with bland "corporate-speak" mission statements or vanilla-flavored "white noise" of "ad-speak" peppered with hackneyed, hollow-sounding promises, offering "quality, selection and service from our fast, friendly and knowledgeable staff".

When it comes to branding in a way that makes a difference, how willing are you to risk hate to find love?

Brands who know this and do it well include:


Branding with nothing in-between can make your company immune to price-cutting, allowing you to charge premium prices. Branding in a way that inspires love and admiration (as well as triggering some hate) ensures a rich supply of customers who evangelize your business for you so you spend less time and money on advertising or cold-calling.

Are you ready to pick a focus, stand for something and not just try to appeal to everybody?

What could you do or start saying that would make your brand worthy of being desired, loved and yes, even hated?

"The first thing I did when I met Shannon Tweed, or Cher, was say: Here, there are no skeletons in Gene Simmons`s closet.` I refuse to lead a Dr Jekyll-and-Mr Hyde life. There are DJs who get caught with prostitutes, MPs with stockings on their head. It`s a waste of time. Just say, `This is who I am. Take it or leave it. Then you sleep well" GENE SIMMONS


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