Personal Branding Lessons from “The Boss” Bruce Springsteen

Personal BrandingReputation Management

In returning from vacation this week it makes sense to share an experience offering lessons on personal branding that will keep people coming back.

Half of vacation was dedicated to a week traveling across Ireland attending three rock ‘n roll concerts by Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band.

These shows were the 76th, 77th and 78th live performances I’ve attended during Springsteen’s career.

There are few rock stars that have built a relationship with customers (fans) as deep as Bruce has with his. During my week with “The Boss,” I developed these three personal branding lessons based on my lifelong experience as a customer (fan):

Lesson 1 – know what you want

In 1997 Springsteen was quoted in a New York Times article saying that as a teenager, “I very consciously set out to develop an audience that was more than buying records. I set out to find an audience that would be a reflection of some imagined community I had in my head, that lived according to the values in my music and shared a similar set of ideals.”

Regularly selling out venues of 20,000 to 50,000 across the world, he has certainly achieved that community. Additionally, I am part of an even deeper community I don’t think he could ever have imagined.

At each concert more than fifteen hundred of his most dedicated fans line up for standing room locations directly in front of the stage. This guarantees Bruce’s best fans get the best location for the shows.

Yet, to secure these premium “seats,” Bruce’s best fans must line up from between 12 hours to four days in advance of the show.

As a coach, the number one issue I find with my clients and work with them on, is a lack of clarity in this area. Create in your mind the vision of what you want to create and then take the smallest first step possible to move in that direction.

Lesson 2 – become exceptional

There are better guitar players than Springsteen, but there are no better entertainers. Bruce has picked up the torch from James Brown as “the hardest working man in show business.”

But, Springsteen doesn’t just work hard, he has studied the styles of successful entertainers, he takes cues from audiences during his shows and adjusts to make his concerts better.

To build and maintain your personal brand you must invest in yourself and your development to become exceptional in your field. Commit to studying your craft and continual improvement.

Lesson 3 – offer high-value & over deliver to your audience

Springsteen’s personal brand has been built around his marathon three to four hour concerts.

Having participated in the process with 1,500 others to stand a few feet from the stage I can attest it’s a grueling, endurance test. But, night after night, when Bruce hits the stage the fans’ investment is repaid.

At these recent Ireland shows, Bruce exceeded even our expectations.

As our group sat on the ground designated in front of the stage three hours before show time, Bruce unexpectedly walked out on stage alone, in a t-shirt and jeans with a guitar in his hand.

He offered a verbal greeting and proceeded to play a few songs just for us. Across three shows we heard 11 different solo-acoustic songs. Each “pre-show” was unique and different because he knew most of us at the shows were basically the same.

What do you do to offer the best value to your audience, and like Bruce, what can you do to exceed your audience’s expectations, when they least expect it?