If Hans Zimmer can perform at Coachella, you can too.
Okay. Maybe not.
The real story here is about reaching beyond the outer limits to embrace the new.
How does this relate to Hans Zimmer?
This past Sunday, the 59-year-old composer performed at Coachella surrounded by a 22-piece orchestra and full choir. We’re not joking. The man behind the tremendous scores from films like Gladiator, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Dark Knight, Inception and many more (literally over 100 more) performed at the valley festival that’s often known for hosting privileged celebrity children and some questionable “fashion” choices.
“I was forced! I was cajoled! I was bullied by three of my best friends, Ann Marie Simpson, Johnny Marr and Pharrell Williams.”
According to an interview with Fast Company, Zimmer explained how he was struck by a point brought up to him by Pharrell. “You know, eventually you have to look your audience in the eye. Eventually, you have to start doing things in real time, as opposed to hiding behind the screen.”
That’s a pretty poignant point. While Zimmer has toured before, he’s never gone outside Europe. Now as his Hans Zimmer Revealed tour gears up to travel across Europe, the US and yes, even Canada, he plans to bring a complete multimedia experience to audience members. Picture being swept up in the action of a movie, rather than politely clapping at a symphony orchestra.
People may not have been sure how to dance to Hans Zimmer at Coachella, but his venturing out onto the live stage poses an important question that brands should have to answer: when was the last time you faced your customer?
It doesn’t have to be in the literal sense, this isn’t a how-to on how to take your brand on a global tour.
But so often, brands spend time in their labs, in their meeting rooms and in their board rooms trying coming up with product ideas, marketing campaigns and so much more.
Yet the audience is not in there. It’s also not in a focus group that you bring into those places (does anyone do focus groups anymore?). The audience is in the outside world, living in “real time.” For brands to make that “authentic” connection, they have to actually get out there and be authentic.
So taking a cue from Hans Zimmer, we challenge brands to:
1. Reach out to your customers.
And actually listen once you hear back. Don’t just send out a customer service tweet and get a social media coordinator to send you some top comments. Take the feedback and act on it.
Glossier made some of their most popular products by asking customers what they couldn’t find in the beauty products currently on the market.
McDonald’s made a campaign out of answering customer’s questions, even tough ones about pink goop.
Speak to your audience, don’t just do things that imitate actual conversations and dialogue.
2. Get your brand involved on a different level, in a new way.
Try doing the above in a way you’ve never done it before. We could list colloquialisms all day like dip your toes into the water, etc. but we won’t.
The point is to not pick the obvious, easy way out of this. Actually push for your brand to do something that other brands aren’t doing. In the Battle for Time, no one wants to see what you’re doing if it’s same ‘o, same ‘o in terms of both approach and results.
Ask what gaps your brand is facing and then see what it is the brand is doing (or not doing) that’s letting those gaps be filled up by competitors.
3. Go beyond your stage fright.
Even Hans Zimmer has stage fright. But he too also admitted that he’s a “rock ‘n roller.” He plays all the instruments and likes to put on a good performance. So he did exactly that this time around.
Stage fright is the very thing that stifles good ideas. It bludgeons creativity. It covers up difference. Yet, difference isn’t so bad. The idea of trying something new doesn’t have to be met with sweaty palms and general murmurs of “that’s just how we do things around here.”
If the idea gets lost in the arduous process, then we’re right back where the general establishment wants us to remain.
What good does that do any audience?
Be the rock ‘n roller, be the banjo player. Someone has to be, and more importantly, your audiences want you to be.
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