Originally published in the Boulder Daily Camera and the Longmont Daily Times-Call.


The thought kept running through my mind while I was pounding up I-25 on my way to a sold-out KISS concert at Cheyenne Frontier Days.

Why KISS? Why has that rock band survived and thrived while so many others have crashed and burned or retired quietly to old rockers’ homes?

I was first exposed to KISS back in the day when parents warned their music would cause deafness, when their garish make-up was thought to be Satanic, and when their tongue-flicking was equated to bad manners or lizards on hot rocks. Decades later KISS is still headlining and I was taking my 18-year-old son to his first KISS concert.

“Why?” I asked myself. “Why is KISS still going strong?”

The answer lies in two words. Branding. Marketing.

Backing its music with outlandish costumes, bizarre make-up, on-stage antics, and pushing-the-envelope fireworks, KISS cemented its brand in the minds and wallets of its target audiences.

The group’s strategic marketing plan is laser-focused on preserving its brand and expanding it into the gotta-see, gotta-have-it choices of succeeding generations.

Branding and marketing separate the successful from the also-rans. Those at the top of the heap know the two are intertwined and that the processes are never-ending. Those at the bottom never knew or forgot. Those just starting out are finding their way.

Planning is the beginning. Whether you’re running a business or breaking guitars on stage with a rock band, you’ve got to have vision for where you want to go, faith in what you stand for, and a well-conceived plan for marketing your brand to the public.

Before you plan, you need an idea. Gene Simmons of KISS has noted that he founded the band after determining that a certain niche was available and ready to be filled.

He set out from the beginning to make the band different. Then the strategic planning and implementation kicked in.

At all times – and especially during these difficult economic times – small and large businesses are hard-pressed. The importance of innovative marketing and branding has taken on new dimensions. Insightful planning significantly impacts bottom lines.

Marketing planning should clearly define your goals. It should include strategies and objectives that will get you from point A to point B. Research and a clear understanding of your target audiences are key to ensuring you hit your mark. Constant evaluation will ensure that you stay current and make changes when appropriate.

All good marketing plans are highly flexible. They bend to meet changing conditions. They adjust to encompass new target audiences. They adapt to new technologies.

They exploit new media. But their primary goal is unchanging – to establish and re-establish your brand, to keep existing clients and customers, and to bring new clients and customers into the fold.

By sticking to the original plan and embracing a wide variety of technology as it has become available, the aging KISS rockers remain relevant to a broad spectrum. The packed arena in Cheyenne included octogenarians and toddlers, cowboys and KISS clones, parents, grandparents and couples on dates. While I wouldn’t describe myself as a KISS fan, the concert was exactly what the branding and advance marketing led me to anticipate. Judging from the non-stop feedback I got during our drive back to Longmont, I suspect KISS successfully marketed to, and branded, the youngest Cornay. Someday in the future (the distant future, I hope) he, too, will be heading to some concert somewhere with his child at his side. Perhaps he will be pondering, “Why KISS?”

Two words. Marketing. Branding.

Stacy Cornay is the owner of Communication Concepts Public Relations & Advertising. 
Visit www.comm-concepts.com or call 303-651-6612.

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