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6 Things You Can Learn From U2’s Brand

By October 31, 2014June 7th, 2015Brand Development

I’m not going to lie. I love U2. And if you ask me—they are thee biggest band of our generation—I’m talking to all of my GenXers out there.

There is a reason why U2 (founded in 1976) has kept rocking for almost 30 years. U2 has done a number of things right that we as business owners and marketers can learn from to maximize our own success and longevity when building our brands.

Whether you’re a U2 fan or not—below are 6 things you can incorporate into your own brand strategy that can potentially provide the wherewithal your brand needs to go the distance.

It goes without saying that U2’s signature sound delivered by The Edge’s “airy” guitar rifts, Bono’s larger-than-life vocals and disorienting lyrics and the strong back-up accompaniment from Larry Mullen Jr. and Adam Clayton on drums and bass, respectively—make U2’s “music product” unique. They have consistently delivered their product—album after album to their loyal followers—each on a grander scale than the last. All great brands start with a great idea. U2’s music has propelled the band’s brand over the years. 

U2 has always been devoted to helping their fellow man. From Band-Aid, Live-Aid, World Vision, ONE, Music Rising and as of late, RED (Bono’s personal foundation devoted to the Aids epidemic in Africa)—U2 has always made giving back to humanity a priority, and it’s reflected in both their powerful music and their generosity in giving back. With each new effort comes forth a new song to bring awareness. Here are a few examples:

  • Do They Know It’s Christmas – Ethiopian Famine
  • Bullet the Blue Sky – San Salvador Civil War
  • Miss Sarajevo – Bosnian War
  • New York – for 9/11
  • Sweetest Thing – Chernobl Childrens Proejct
  • Walk On – Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi
  • The Saints are Coming – Hurrican Katrina
  • Sunday Bloody Sunday – Irish Massacre

Their purpose for existing goes beyond just making millions of dollars making music. Like most startups—the product (music) may have been their sole driver in the beginning—but now they use their music and fame to build awareness for various global atrocities and humanitarian crises that demand the attention and action of their followers. This purpose has made U2 a band to be admired and respected. And with admiration comes interest and more sales. 

u2 brand experience concertCustomer Experience
U2 has consistently created fresh songs and content, not to mention their ability to always push the boundaries on what can be done in stadiums. They are highly committed to their fans, which in turn has cultivated a cult-like following. They express their thankfulness to their crowds and bring them into their story through their purpose. Every concert by U2 is intertwined with some kind of political action that allows the concert-goer to be apart of their cause. Every brand should strive to incorporate their customers into the brand’s purpose and story.

The band members’ personal lives are aligned with their purpose and product as well. They tend to be the same on camera as they are in their off-camera day-to-day lives. From the design of their album covers, merchandise and music, U2 is just different.

Their branding is always on target. Although the brand’s visuals have changed through the years, their core essence has not. If I had to guess, I would say U2’s brand essence would go something like this:

Create music that moves, relates and heals the world.

A brand’s essence is what creates purpose and answers the question: “why”? It is the center of all that you do that gets you out of bed in the morning. What is your “why”? 

With more than 150 million albums sold, $700 million dollars in ticket sales (Source: Forbes)—their latest album, Songs of Innocence, is another example of what U2 does best: innovate. Every album released brings higher expectations from their fans than the previous one. They have consistently created billboard hits over the past 30 years because they continue to innovate. They do this by surrounding themselves with the best people and utilizing their unique talents and skills.

To wrap up, brands that start with a good product, possess purpose, experience, authenticity, maintain consistent branding and who can continually innovate can expect long term success. So go out and rock your brand!


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Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.


Joshua Claflin

Josh Claflin, President of Garrison Everest, specializes in helping business and marketing leaders in the outdoor, hunting, adventure, and shooting sports industries create clear messaging and digital marketing programs that grow business.