Spring Quarter of my second year, and Stanford GSB outdoes itself again. M.C. Hammer guest-lecturing in the Building Innovative Brands class – how do you outdo that?
Hammer was extremely approachable and gracious, taking photographs with everyone and joking around as the earlier class trickled out v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y, until Prof. Aaker had to call a group photo and get us in our seats (That's me behind Hammer's right shoulder :-)
Hammer just impressed me so much with how on top of things he is, and how strategically and thoughtfully he approached every aspect of marketing – starting with his early days launching his first album in 1987, selling records out of his trunk. I was eight years old at the time (!) Hammer may well have come through GSB Executive Education, he seemed to hit on every major point Prof. Aaker has been taking us through all quarter – this guy is just a natural Social Media marketing machine. 2 Legit 2 Quit.
Takeaways and priceless quotes:
Every thing you do can be used to craft your brand, to “create and control…perception.” E.g. his first song, “Let’s Get it Started,” answered in the first verse who he was and why he was there – “put on the Hammer” and he would help you p-a-r-t-y. His first video was as much a “commercial” for the Hammer brand as anything else. He looked outside the industry to find a hot new director who would understand Hammer’s desire to capture the energy of his moves.
Get ahead of the curve. Hammer got curious about the Internet early (’94-’95) and went looking for whoever would help him realize the vision he saw for it. Silicon Graphics, Apple, YouTube (when it was two computers above a pizza place), what have you.
Web 2.0 gives you an important tool - the ability to humanize yourself, reach your audience without intervening layers, and immediately and directly counter less direct forms of negative media.
The way to push your brand is to put it in the hands of very creative people. Create a groundswell, word of mouth.
“Every superhero must have one” – Hammer on Will.I.Am’s song for President Obama
“I have 20/20 vision – I didn’t need glasses – I wore them for you to see me better” - Hammer on why he wore glasses when performing
“Never apologize for your success. Just tell the other guy he’s gotta work harder”