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What I learned about branding from Fleetwood Mac

One of the benefits of trade association volunteerism is getting small-group time with the keynote speakers. As such, I had the chance to listen to a few tales told by Mick Fleetwood.

For those unfamiliar with Fleetwood’s branding and business chops, he has led one of a few rock groups now touring with their best-known lineup, which was first assembled in 1974.

Here’s what I’d learned:

1. Give your brand a great name

Fleetwood Mac — what a great name! It was derived from the surnames of Mick Fleetwood and John McVie. Not only is it easy to remember, but it makes sense.

2. Protect your brand

Intellectual property is very important for brands, and some of them invest millions of dollars each year to protect their rights. But Fleetwood and McVie had signed an agreement giving up ownership in the name. In 1975, their manager formed what he thought was a better version, without “Fleetwood” or “Mac.” The new band began touring, undeterred by threat of lawsuit, while the real one took some time off. A lawsuit was filed, and the real Fleetwood Mac was off the road for a year.

3. Develop brand fans

The situation righted itself. As told by one of the pseudo-Macs, Dave Wilkinson, “When we got to New York for the first date, all we heard was, ‘Where the hell’s Mick Fleetwood?’ It was quite frightening. I really did think I was going to get shot.” Also, John Courage, the road manager at the time, found out that none of the original members would “be joining the tour later,” so he hid the equipment. Fleetwood Mac’s manager lost the lawsuit and his job.

4. How much can your brand stand?

I have to hand it to Fleetwood. During the band’s 40-year history, the band/brand has had an additional 16 members. Add to the mix sex, drugs, broken romances, infidelity and divorces, and it is truly amazing that Fleetwood Mac is still together — and that the “original” members are all still with us.

5. Expand your brand

The most important thing that I took away from our small-group session was: “All ideas are good, it’s the timing that’s sometimes bad.”

A friend approached Fleetwood in 2001 about starting a winery. He said, “It was a good idea, except I didn’t have the time to devote to it. It rattled around my mind for a few years and in 2006 I made it happen.” Now Costco buys all of his production. Fleetwood has since expanded into premium varietal blends and restaurants.

Branding inspiration can come from many sources, and I’m fortunate that I had the chance to learn from a branding master.

Joe Scott / The Business Journals / Thursday, February 5, 2015

Joe Scott is vice president of Scott & Associates, based in the southwestern suburbs of Minneapolis. When asked what he does for a living he says, “I get customers for our clients.” How he does that is via the OAR / MTV process, which = Objectives, Analysis, ROI / Message, Target, Vehicle. When not doing that sort of thing, he can be found with friends and family, on a golf course or a football pitch, sometimes more than one of them simultaneously.



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