Branding Heart & Soul
A topical interview between: Jerome Conlon & Tyrone Davis
JC: Tyrone what do you mean by ‘Branding Heart & Soul?’ Where did that line come from?
TD: I think that ultimately brands have gotten away from focusing on what it is that people need and crave. Instead many have just become a sterile product sales company. Because the internet has created such a divided highway that there are so many messages coming at people every single day … ads come at you left and right … so how are you going to breakthrough to really connect with a person if you are not doing it in the heart and soul space? A lot of brands are focused on the headspace but this is not really where most people are living when they wake up. When people wake up they are thinking about, going to work, taking care of bills, going to school, completing an assignment … but we’re all doing these things for a reason. We’re doing those things because we want to overcome and achieve something for a greater purpose. We want to transform where we are into another place. That to me sounds like a heart and soul conversation. And so I think brands, in order to thrive in this new marketplace have to be focused on doing things with a little more heart and soul. The new key question becomes … “Is your brand language, style, video or message going to touch the audience enough that people are going to even care about your product?” Most of the millennial audience don’t really care about traditionally branded products or product oriented advertising. They will go to a vintage T-Shirt shop, where the T-Shirts are thrown on the ground. They buy a $3 T-Shirt and then go and buy a Louis Vuitton jacket and that’s it. They’ll wear that jacket everyday. And underneath will be that $3 T-Shirt. Because things have changed in terms of what is important to them. So brands definitely if they want to thrive … will have learn how to understand the heart and the soul of millennial’s and the New Urban audience.
JC: So when you think about how you got started on your journey to create this new media platform where did your inspiration come from?
TD: The genesis started when I was 18 years old working for MC Hammer. Here is this man who is from Oakland California, he’s a bat boy for the Oakland A’s, he knows the owner of the Oakland A’s and the owner mentors him, builds him up and then calls him ‘Hammer’ because he looked like Hank Aaron. The story goes on … MC Hammer was very interested in music and he started selling CD’s out of the trunk of his car, then all of a sudden he does a master deal with Capital Records and then we hear the likes of his song ‘Too Legit To Quit.’ By the way he just got an award for 50 million albums sold.
So what I saw in MC Hammer was this black kid from Oakland. And Oakland at that time was known for killers and prostitutes and being crime ridden. Out of that concrete jungle comes this man who becomes a global icon. He could go to Japan, Russia, anywhere … 60,000 people in the Tokyo dome and he can say, “we got to pray to make it today.” And he could say “too legit to quit” … It was Rap mixed with Pop music that ultimately touched a large part of the world. How did that happen?
What is it that MC Hammer represented that would allow him to be able to touch anybody from Tupac to Taylor Swift? It doesn’t make sense. But, to me that’s where the Urban Icon idea started for me … by watching the dynamics that came out of how MC Hammer was touching the world. Out of this experience I came to know that it is possible to offer something to the world that is “good and cool” and commercially successful.