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Beyond the Ordinary: Brand Lessons from ColdPlay

Every now and then, we come across a brand experience that jolts us in all the right ways… leaving a lasting and loyal impression. When that happens (typically a rare occurrence) from that moment on we become faithful followers and number one advocates.

Looking back at brand experiences that have made lasting, indelible impressions… Coldplay in concert at the Oak Mountain Amphitheater jumps to the top of the list. I’d been a fan of Coldplay’s music through the years and was “somewhat” excited about attending the show. I scored some tickets the day of the show… turned out to be one of the best show’s I’ve seen.

Three things a Coldplay concert can teach us about creating extraordinary brand experiences.

UNBRIDLED EXUBERANCE . The energy and passion that Coldplay poured into every song was astounding. You can go to alot of shows and not experience that kind of emotion and investment. After all, this was probably number 25 of 150+ concert stops across the world. The crowd was feeding on the genuine passion and energy Coldplay poured into each song and every audience member.

ELEMENT OF SURPRISE. The amphitheatre seats over 20,000 people. So, how can you make the environment seem intimate enough so that everyone feels engaged to every note, every lyric? Coldplay accomplished what very few bands could. About 7-8 songs into the show, the band came running up the aisles to a portable stage about ten rows in front of us. The place was crazy with excitement being that close to Martin and the guys. What major label group does that? We were basically front row ticket holders for a three-song set. My cheap, nose bleed seats became some of the best seats in the house… sweet surprise Coldplay.

GOING THE EXTRA MILE WHEN OTHERS DON’T. The show was incredible… one of those you hate to see come to an end. I would say most everyone experienced something far greater than they anticipated. Upon leaving the amphitheater every concert attendee was given a special souvenir CD of Coldplay with various live tracks and even some new releases. It was simply awesome and I would have never expected something of such value… for FREE! Of all the concerts I’ve been to in my years, I’ve never experienced a gift of appreciation from a band quite like that. Very impressed with their gesture and willingness to go the extra mile to insure I had a memorable evening with the boys from across the pond.

I cannot tell you how many people I’ve told my Coldplay experience to in the months that followed… and I’ll continue to tell the story. Without question, I’ll be seeing Coldplay the next time they tour the States.


1.Make a brand statement by allowing your followers to experience significantly more passion and exuberance behind what you do.
2.Focus on creating elements of surprise and less predictability to add value and lasting impressions of your brand.
3.Go the extra mile by doing “little BIG things” that others simply fail to consider and do.


Facebook: Behind the Numbers

Insightful and eye-opening info graphic from mashable.com on the social shift that has redefined web expectations for generations young and old.

How has your organization’s web foot print expanded to account for the Facebook obsessed?

Are You In the Shift?

We are living in one of the most significant shifts in modern day history.

It’s created new behaviors, experiences, and expectations for generations young and old.  A combination of platforms and devices (social networking, blogging, video, smartphones, and tablets) have lead substantial advancement in how people digitally connect and relate to just about anything or anyone.

We all know the shift is on.  We have to ask ourselves the questions.  Are we in the shift? Outside of the shift?  Overwhelmed by the shift?

Your response directly impacts your visibility, relevance, and ability to impact and live out your mission and fulfill vision.

Being in the Shift means you and your web presence are competent in these two critical areas:

+ MORE CONVERSATION. There’s a new tone for web experiences and it’s driven by the market’s appetite for more conversation.  Your audience expects you to let go of the “corporate posture” and open your hearts.  People want real and authentic, in addition to (or even more than) details and data.  The shift is being fueled by genuine, natural conversation that has become an end-user expectation.
It’s time to take your digital brand and content to a higher level of openness.  Platforms such as Blogs, Facebook, and Twitter are conversational essentials.

+ FEEDING CONTENT. There is a shift from end users searching for content to now having preferred content delivered to them.  New platforms and devices make it easy for users to subscribe and have specific content automatically delivered.  Facebook, blogs, video, podcasts, calendar events… all of these content elements have the ability to be fed to end users in real time, directed to their preferred platforms and devices.  In addition, smartphone apps offer a different type of feed, in that end users are one app click away from the specific content they crave.  Static and parked content will be overlooked as content feeds and apps become the expected norm.
How much content are you feeding to your audience and wider networks?  Are your content assets resting at your web site or are they being dynamically delivered to your audience as you read this?

Being in the shift should create a renewed excitement and passion for everyone.  It’s a new day for communicating and relationship building.  Right now, your message has more reach and more impact potential as our world continues to shift digitally.  Consider the possibilities of being in the shift versus the liabilities of watching it go by.

In the Name of Love

I heard a story yesterday that my pastor used to close out his sermon that I’m not soon to forget.

Being that music in general and U2 in particular serves as such a source of inspiration, I wanted to pass this on.

If you have even a remote interest in U2, you probably know that their song Pride: In the Name of Love released in 1984 was written about two men who changed history; Jesus Christ and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

What you may not know is that Bono lobbied Washington heavily advocating that Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday be celebrated as a national holiday. As a result, Bono received death threats. One of these death threats targeted a specific concert venue, a specific date, and even a specific song. Bono was told that if they played that date and if he sang Pride: In the Name of Love, an attempt would be made on his life… on stage… in front of thousands. In 2011, we have better ways to deal with threats like this. In the late 1980’s pre 9/11, we weren’t so sophisticated.

As the time in the set list came for the song to be played, Bono remembers a feeling of panic coming over him. He begins to lose focus, not knowing what will happen. All he can think to do to get through the song, the moment is to close his eyes and sing. He sings the entirety of the song this way. When he opens his eyes again, not knowing what to expect, he sees silhouetted against the stage lights the back of his bass player (Adam Clayton’s) head and body standing in front of him. In effect Adam Clayton said, “If a bullet is coming your way, it’ll have to go through me.”


What a picture of what Christ has done for us. The difference is that in our case, the shot was fired, the bullet taken, but the result was life abundant. Think about what Christ did for you and for me as you remember the sacrifice of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. today.

Pastor Bob Flayhart is the Senior Pastor of Oak Mountain Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, AL. You can follow his blog at http://www.bobflayhart.com