Visceral Branding: Capitol Records, The Beatles and Resonance
Like many people of a certain age, I am a fan of the Beatles. Their music reeled me in from the moment I first heard one of their songs coming out of my parents’ clock radio. I Want To Hold Your Hand, maybe…or A Hard Day’s Night. The song title is hazy, but the feeling was—and is—razor sharp.
One thing that always stood out about Beatles records was the label on them. Capitol Records’ 45 rpm releases during most of the 1960s featured a bright half orange, half yellow swirl pattern on which the artist, title and other info was printed in authoritative, bold black print. When I listened to a Beatles record I couldn’t help but look at that label spinning on the turntable. The record’s movement and label design created an illusion of motion which began at the label’s inner hub and ran to the point where it joined the jet black vinyl. Looking at that and hearing the Beatles became intertwined, with the band and their label becoming nearly identical.
In hindsight, the Beatles/Capitol combination was my first memorable exposure to brand resonance.
With businesses clamoring for attention and market share, the ones who create resonance with their audience have a decided advantage. Savvy business owners and marketing chiefs know that the emotional component of branding is its secret weapon. Creating a branding bond between a business and its customers can be as simple as making the right decision at the right time. Notice the phrase, “can be” in the previous sentence. Relying on luck is a stressful way to establish branding. Systematic brand building, strategy and teamwork yield resonance with customers.
Brand resonance helps fulfill a promise to the consumer, a promise composed of past experiences and future expectations. A few of the assurances that resonance conveys are:
Consistency—a business that reliably fills an emotional need puts this piece of the branding puzzle in place.
Uniqueness—many businesses fit in with their competitors, whether by design or by default. It’s crucial to express difference by stressing distinctive traits.
Cachet—tied in with a brand’s uniqueness, cachet is never accidental. It’s the result of building the brand and positioning it in the marketplace.
Would the Beatles have made it big in the U.S. with another record label? Certainly; Capitol was their distributor only in North America, while other labels carried the music in the rest of the world. Even so, without those groovy colors on their records, the resonance wouldn’t have been the same.