Tag Archives: creative direction

What branding and design can learn from jazz

Raum-Musik für Saxophone CD booklet from DOUBLES

The music metaphor is very strong in communication and there are a lot of papers, articles and blog posts, that are dealing with jazz, pop music or bands regarding marketing, communications and design. One of the first articles I have seen on this subject was ‘What Jazz Taught Marketing (or Should Have)’
by Keith Jennings from 2004 In it’s seven learnings he describes things like practicing, playing with better people than yourself, finding your own voice, collaboration, experiment, innovation, risk and the audience – everything a brand should be aware of.

But there are so many more and as a matter of fact I would say design, communication and branding can learn a lot or may be inspired a lot by music, the music business, a band or any other performing individual – may it be jazz, pop or classical.

Here are a few I would recommend for inspiration:

Niche Marketing and the Long Tail
What We Can Learn about Great Marketing from the Grateful Dead by Daniel Sweet. The Grateful Dead may be the most profitable rock band in history even though it has never had a #1 single or a #1 album.  Think about that for a second. Did you know that only two of the band’s songs ever cracked the top 40 on the pop charts?

Naming and Branding
What The Grateful Dead Can Teach Us About Choosing Memorable Brand Names Fastcompany article about the process in which the Grateful Dead picked their band name and what companies considering their own brands can learn from them.

Improvisation and  Innovation
Innovation, Jazz, and Improvisation
by Stephen Shapiro with seven learnings: ‘unlearn habits, say ‘yes’ to the mess, have minimal structures that maximise autonomy, embrace errors as a source of learning, provocative competence, alternate between soloing and support, strike a groove’.

Medeski, Martin & Wood, Radiolarian The project is unique among studio albums because, in a reversal of the typical recording process, the band decided to compose and then develop the songs through a series of tours before recording the music in the studio. Also very interesting the band released the material  in a comprehensive box set with 3 studio CD’s, 2 vinyl LP’s, a live album, a remix CD and a DVD with documentary material under the name Radiolarians: The Evolutionary Set

A very recent short post from Seth Godin: Why jazz is more interesting than bowling and not to forget the ‘Symphony’ principle of Daniel Pink in the book: A whole new mind

When I set up my own company CREATIVE COMPANION I started with writing a CREDO (what I believe) inspired of ‘a day in the life’ of a musician and in the  MANIFESTO #10 I tried to sum up:

10. Think like a musician.

Compose, invent, innovate, orchestrate, prepare, communicate, rehearse, improvise, entertain, listen, play, perform – don’t give a damn.



In one of the next posts I will write about Patterns from pattern recogintion, pattern design, a pattern language to (inevitably) minimal music.

Any suggestions? Drop a note!
Christof Zürn


Christof Zürn

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