Journey – A Brand Bigger Than Any Member

In 1973, San Francisco gave rise to a band that would transcend generations.  A band that would go on to produce 18 Top 40 hits, sell 90 million records worldwide and become inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame class of 2017.  It would go on to see many members come and go, with only one of the original members having contributed to every album produced and still there today.  This band is Journey and has developed a brand bigger than any of the members.

I was inspired to write this article after watching the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony which included lead singer Steve Perry, guitarist Neal Schon, keyboardists Jonathan Cain and Gregg Rolie, bassist Ross Valory, and drummers Aynsley Dunbar and Steve Smith.  Lacking from the induction was their current lead singer, Arnel Pineda who is the band’s longest standing front man and 9 other members who at one time performed with the band.

The Hall of Fame had inducted the members who formed the core of the band at their strongest point which was between 1978 and 1987 and had given birth to hits such as “Don’t Stop Believin” and “Open Arms”.  After their induction, Journey played a couple of their songs for the audience without front man Steve Perry as Arnel Pineda re-joined the group on stage.

I felt bad that the Hall had neglected Arnel Pineda in particular because of his years of service as lead singer for the brand and also because he was the current face of the band, but so many still credit Steve Perry as the face of the band.  Steve Perry was not an original member either, having been hired in 1977.

All politics aside though, what fascinates me most about Journey has been the sustainability of the band.  They are one of a few that has been able to transcend generations and who still remain together today.  They have seen many members come and go including the legendary Steve Perry, but yet fans still love and adore their music.

Journey has seen many faces and many re-births but the brand has remained untarnished.  They truly have established a brand bigger than any of the members.

It is ironic that their name is Journey, and so many entrepreneurs are on what we call “The Entrepreneurial Journey” It is the mission and vision of many entrepreneurs that they establish a brand bigger than themselves, a brand that can sustain itself in the absence of themselves, and a brand that will transcend generations.

I too found it ironic that their best known song and first hit single was an inspirational message to us all, “Don’t Stop Believin”

What lessons can we as entrepreneurs draw from this band?

  1. Find an identity that first reaches your core audience and has a message that will influence people in all areas
  2. Understand that your brand may not look like it did last year, but the core of the brand remains untarnished
  3. One man or woman does not have to define a brand
  4. Don’t Stop Believin!

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