The Legendary KISS: 5 Marketing Tips Told By Their Classics

I feel uptight on a Saturday night
Nine o’ clock, the radio’s the only light
I hear my song and it pulls me through
Comes on strong, tells me what I got to do
I got to..

KISS was slipping some subliminal marketing advice from the start.

You thought they were a rock band, but it turns out they’re an all-in-one marketing school, too! KISS leads by example with their innovative approach to music and in their seamless transition into the business world. For most it’s confounding to comprehend how a rock band from the ‘70s maintain pop culture relevance decades later. After all, what does a guy like Gene Simmons know about marketing and business? As it turns out… quite a lot.

“What we have is pretty meaningless. It’s what we are that counts.”Gene Simmons, member of KISS

Real lessons learned from their rock hits.

Some of the strongest lessons we can learn from Gene Simmons and KISS come straight from their classic rock lyrics.

1. “You drive us wild; we’ll drive you crazy.” ~Rock and Roll All Night

When KISS first wrote this song, they were looking to create an anthem for their fans. This rallying cry shows that KISS fed off fandom just as much as their fans went insane for the music they produced. Follow their lead and make your fans your top priority.

The first business lesson you probably ever heard was “the customer is always right.” KISS applies this methodology consistently; they honor their fans devotion and try to keep their best interests in mind with every business decision they make. It’s a big part of the reason they continue to perform to this day. Their loyalty to their fan base is too strong to give up. Treat your customers the same way and make sure you’re choosing the right decisions to honor that bond.

“It’s hard to see your destination when you’re focused on the cracks in the sidewalk.”Gene Simmons, member of KISS

2. “If you don’t feel good in every way you could, don’t sit there broken hearted.” ~Shout it Out

If you’re not comfortable in your current situation, don’t just sulk about it. Change it. It’s OK to change your mind and go in a new direction. In an effort to expand their audience, KISS began marketing their music to kids in the late ‘70s. Their image softened, becoming more “Disney” than “dark rock,” and they quickly encountered problems.

It would have been easy to get totally discouraged, having made a very visible mistake in a public platform. Instead, they transitioned into a more comfortable branding mode. Don’t be afraid to change your mind, even if you think the other guys are having a laugh. Life is all about taking risks and learning from the decisions you made.

3. “Stop cryin’ all your tears.” ~Deuce

Seriously, quit your bellyaching because you’re going to have some flops. KISS knows first hand about the inevitability of the occasional flop on the journey toward super stardom. Not every KISS single has gone platinum and they’re perfectly fine with that. KISS has learned to cope with the simple fact that not every song and certainly not every business decision will lead to greatness. The sooner you cope with the fact that you’re going to churn out some flops, the faster you’ll be able to get to the gold ideas that are living inside you right now.

“If you look at YOURSELF as the brand, then you will understand an intrinsic truth: People judge.”Gene Simmons, member of KISS

4. “You can’t forget me, don’t try to lie.” ~Love Gun

And you thought Love Gun was about certain organs and carnal activities. You dirty birdy, it’s been a marketing message all along! When you make a big impression on someone, you’ll be hard to forget. Building an unforgettable brand can take you anywhere.

Is KISS the “most metal” or the “most rock” band out there? Surely not, but they’ve mastered branding in such a way that if they say it’s so, it’s hard not to believe them. By investing in their brand through merchandising, TV shows, movies, and so on, they’ve “accidentally” built an empire that doesn’t appear to be at risk of crumbling any time soon. Invest in your brand to exhaustion; name recognition should be a business goal you work toward tirelessly.

5. “Give me money, money, more than I need.” ~Cadillac Dreams

This lyric sort of speaks for itself, right? KISS had their mind on the money and the money on their mind, and you should, too. Your energy should focus on money-making activities. Experimenting with different products and opportunities has its own merits and lessons to learn, but don’t let yourself become too distracted from your primary goal of profitability.

Gene Simmons learned at an early age the value of a hard earned dollar selling fruit as a boy in Israel. Doesn’t sound super fun, does it? Well, he didn’t think so either and he knew that in order to truly succeed he would have to invest in actions that would generate financial security. If you want your business to survive the test of time the way that KISS has, make sure you’re focused on choices that will ensure your success for years to come.


Final Thoughts:

  • Make fans a top priority. Learn what drives your fans crazy and keep it in the forefront of your mind at all times. When you make their needs a priority, you create loyalty and trust within your brand.
  • Reserve the right to change your mind. Just because you made a decision doesn’t mean you have to follow through with it if you don’t feel good about it. Be confident in identifying what does and doesn’t work, and don’t hesitate to correct it.
  • There will be failure. It is essential that you don’t dwell on your failures and let them slow production. Flops are part of the process. Study them to learn what works, and apply that knowledge to your brand.
  • Focus on profitable endeavours. At the end of the day, we all want our brand to bring home the bacon. Make sure that you are keeping money-making activities front and center while building your brand.
  • KISS knew from the very beginning how to present their brand and music to the population. They are a household name that almost never goes unrecognized. From catchy tunes to KISS apparel and accessories, they knew how to rock their franchise and take full advantage of branding. Were they the greatest lyricists of all rock and roll time? No, but they sure are one of the most recognizable bands of all time. You don’t have to be the best at what you do to end up with the greatest legacy.