Is everything derivative?
An imitation of what someone else has created?
And what about the brand that represents you, your product, your services?
Can you build a magnetic brand that attracts eyes and ears, grows your audience, and helps put a few shekels in your pocket—by borrowing, remixing, then creating your own creative formula?
Of course you can. Successful artists and entrepreneurs have been doing this for eons.
You just have to master the art and science of mixing done right. If you master this craft, you just might create the best brand ever.
So, Craig, what is this magic formula?
Steal like an artist. Sorry, Austin, but this tried and true formula is not exactly new to the world.
In this case, “stealing” is simply reimagining something old in a new context. Then igniting your brand by putting your new mix to work.
Let me explain by first asking you a question…
How do you feel about music sampling?
“To steal part of a song, usually the hook or chorus, and insert it into a crappy song so that the otherwise crappy song is tolerable. This ‘sampling’ is usually blatantly obvious.”
I used the above definition because it’s kinda funny and sums up how some people feel about sampling another artist’s music.
But is sampling simply theft?
Let me tell you a little story, then you can make the call…
Around 1984, beatboxer/rapper duo Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick recorded a simple little song called “La Di Da Di.”
“La Di Da Di?” Seriously?
This title might match “De Do Do Do De Da Da Da” by the Police for most inane song title ever. But guess what? “La Di Da Di” has been sampled in hundreds of songs by a wide-range of artists, from The Notorious B.I.G. to Miley Cyrus (Yes, that Miley Cyrus ;))
Because “La Di Da Di”—the recording no one has ever heard of—is chock full of golden, bite-sized, lyrical magic. The type of source material musicians and music producers can’t resist.
And I’m guessing if you dug a bit deeper you’d find out “La Di Da Di” was imitative on some level too.
In fact, you could write a book about the very topic of music as imitative art… Dylan, Led Zeppelin, and even the Beatles have been called copycats or even thieves at some point.
But here’s the thing… we are ALL guilty of remixing in our own way.
Steal, borrow, repurpose, however you define the practice, it’s something we all do because in reality it’s impossible not to.
Whether you like it or not, you’re subconsciously influenced by the art you consume.
But here’s the thing and how it points back to you and your brand: The imitative art you create just might become your greatest work, and could catapult your brand into uncharted territory.
So, does remixing fit into the world of branding?
Of course, just look at Apple…
The original Mac operating system was not entirely original.
Nor was the breakthrough iPhone.
Even the wildly successful Apple store is a remix of sorts…
When the wonks at Apple wanted to reinvent the store experience they looked to high-end hotels.
They soon discovered that one secret to a great experience is the concierge. So they created a concierge desk of their own making, the Genius Bar.
The Apple store is currently the most profitable retail space per sq. foot on the planet, and this brilliant remix is one big reason for the store’s success.
Apple’s simple formula? Borrow an idea, repurpose it, then brand it like it was their own invention.
Do you want to dramatically improve your brand?
Then borrow an idea, repurpose it, then brand it like it was your own invention. Sorry kids, but this is the way it’s done in the real world.
So, where do great ideas come from?
Truth be told, the best ideas are usually cobbled together over time, and the famous exclamation of triumph—the eureka moment—only comes after a long period of struggle. Part of that struggle is usually remixing.
So if Bob Dylan and Steve Jobs pulled this off why can’t you?
This very post is my own remix of a TED Radio hour podcast: “What is Original?”
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