In How to Create Million Dollar Products I talk about the punk rock band The Ramones.
As a marketing effort, these guys knew what they were doing. Everything from their look, name of the band, the in-joke about changing everyone’s last name to Ramone, it was a packaging effort.
Their music was disciplined, all 2-minute and change songs that sounded like rock but was often a clever subversion of the form.
I like the album cover pictured here – it conveys an attitude and a promise. They want you to like them but have the don’t give a damn pose.
It is specific to their product and the genre in which they worked. So while you should play the part and work on your look and your style and all that, pay attention to the subversive aspect.
The Ramones stripped down rock and roll to its bare elements. That was the script they wrote and they stuck to it. If you read and listen to them they even subverted punk rock with humor. And also discipline. A lot of bands at the time were just kids acting out in front of other kids acting out.
But The Ramones were an actual band. Their appearance and their product was a mission statement. As a product they were as consistent as McDonalds. You knew what you were getting.
I am using a couple principles I learned from them. I have not copied a single thing verbatim. This last part may be one of the hardest things to take away from studying Million Dollar Products. Each one is the same in a way, but each one is different.
Your task is to come up with a formula, a look or even art direction that is your own, that has its own life.
The Ramones albums are still selling. Their merch is still popular. The Spiderman moviemakers have worked a couple of their songs into the films. That kind of impact only comes when you understand your medium and add your own signature.