Maybe you don’t personally know Dolly Parton, but you do know of her, right? I believe almost everyone in the world does. She is a living definition of a brand. Seth Godin defined a brand, and I believe Dolly Parton fits his definition exactly. He said:
-a brand involves a set of expectations, memories and stories. There are definitely certain things you expect when you are talking about Dolly Parton (some I would blush to mention in this blog post), as well as the memories of her songs and the stories you’ve heard about her.
-you will pay a premium for the brand. You will pay a premium to see and hear Dolly’s music live.
-you will choose a brand over something else. Obviously, Dolly Parton is not for everyone, but you have to admit that she has a cult following.
Why Did I Study Dolly Parton?
But the main reason I got a book about Dolly Parton and started studying her life is to find out what a brand will let you do. That is, I’m curious as to how far a brand will carry you, or how successful you can be when you own a brand. One of my favorite entrepreneurs, Sir Richard Branson, owns a huge brand full of products, services and charities called Virgin. The list of companies under the Virgin brand is almost unbelievable. Clearly, a brand does something to make you stand out and command a higher price for your products and/or services. And over time, it also seems to guarantee a certain level of success once the brand is established.
Should you work towards developing a brand? Let’s learn more about Dolly Parton and find out.
Dolly Brand Point One
The first thing I learned about my brand study of Dolly Parton was that she is brilliant. She has written over 3,000 songs, and plays many instruments very well, including the guitar, banjo, fiddle, piano, drums, harmonica and bass just to name a few. She is uber talented, something required of the claims of a brand. On your road towards building a brand, make sure you have the mind power to pull off what your brand promises.
Dolly Brand Point Two
The second thing I learned while studying Dolly Parton’s brand is that she takes calculated risks. Taking effective risks are the early life blood of building a brand. Some risks could send you into ruin if not planned carefully, or prop up a brand so big that everyone knows your name. Here is some background on Dolly Parton’s start. She was discovered by Porter Wagoner on his show, The Porter Wagoner Show in 1967. She suddenly became uber popular, and ultimately decided to leave the Porter Wagoner Show after 7 years. She was going to test her new ‘brand’ and attempt to crossover to more mainstream pop music. Everyone told her not to do it, but she weighed the risk and decided to make her brand more well known. This was not an accident, and she made the decision to test her songs in the pop genre. It worked like a charm. She began hitting the charts again and again. It has even been noted that Elvis Presley wanted to record her popular song “I Will Always Love You,” but required that she sign over half of the publishing rights of the song to him if he was to record the song. She refused, and has made millions alone on the royalties of the recording of that one song. If you want your platform to become a brand, be ready to take a risk for it. A brand will not come without early risks.
Dolly Brand Point Three
The third thing I learned while studying Dolly Parton’s brand is that you eventually have to test the brand. Once your brand has been established, it’s time to take it into the marketplace in new ways to see if your brand can “cross over.” Dolly’s did, and still does. If you go to her main website, you’ll see she is into music production, theme parks, nonprofit libraries and Dinner Show Extravaganzas. She has even done film and TV. To put it plainly, her brand travels. Good brands do. Once you find you are establishing a brand, it will be good for the brand if you are willing to attach it to other products and services so you’ll know how to improve it.
Be intentional about your company. Build a brand and then test it over time to see if the brand premium will travel with you. It is a risky endeavor, so you must be truly established before testing your brand, or you could hurt it. Seek out your brand as you build your niche. Developing a niche may only take a few years, while a brand can grow out of your niche and could take many years to fully realize it’s potential. Seek council on brand building, and make sure your prices are at a premium when claiming a brand. A low-price brand is not a brand at all. For professional companies, a brand is more than just a catchy tag line or logo. It often can grow out of a company culture that you build as a leader. In this way, other people will often help you carry your brand for you. So surround yourself with people that see the vision for the brand, it’s value and those that can carry it well.
Did You Know?
Dolly Parton is a philanthropist,
Dolly Parton has released 48 original albums (and a lot more compilation albums and collaboration albums),
Dolly Parton has appeared in 13 films
Dolly Parton has been inducted into 12 Halls of Fame
I leave you with some advice that Dolly Parton shared with the world in a recent album, Better Get to Livin: “the day we’re born we start to die, don’t waste one minute of this life, get to livin’ “
Don’t you feel inspired?
Jason is the Founder of Thriveal and the Chief Innovative Officer of his CPA firm, Blumer & Associates. He is the co-host of the Thrivecast and The Businessology Show and speaks and writes frequently for CPAs and creatives, his firm’s chosen niche. Jason loves to watch documentaries on just about anything. He lives in Greenville, SC with his wife and their three children.