This article by Dorie Clark first appeared at Forbes.
In the summer of 2009, musician Dave Carroll was launched to fame when his “United Breaks Guitars” video – about a disastrously bad airline encounter – went viral. (As of this writing, it’s generated nearly 14 million views on YouTube.) The experience made him realize the untapped potential of music to help companies and customers connect. His songs could extend far beyond the bad customer service experience that sparked his initial hit: “You can move people and bring authenticity to any message,” he told me in a recent interview. “I realized I could bring out the best part of any company that, according to my values, was doing something good.”
In addition to touring the world as a professional speaker (often discussing customer service and social media), Carroll began an innovative new sideline: writing songs commissioned by corporations that capture the essence of their brand. For Sandvik Coromant, a cutting tools company, Carroll embarked on an in-depth research project, interviewing 15 staffers from different areas of the company – “from the receptionist to the CEO,” he says. “I asked them questions to see what it meant to work at Sandvik Coromant and found the common threads, the respect for quality of service and the promises they make,” he says. “As a songwriter, I found it very gratifying. It’s their livelihood and for some, their main passion. To express that in a way they couldn’t before, to help fill them with pride through music – that’s rewarding.”
In an increasingly crowded media landscape, Carroll believes that “content is still king. All content is not created equal, and it’s going to get noisier” as more and more individuals and companies decide to start blogs or make videos. If you want to get noticed, it’s even more essential to ensure your content marketing is interesting, high-quality, and unique.
That’s where Carroll and his personalized company songs come in. “If a company believes they’re doing something to improve the world, and they care about the people in their organization and want to get the word out, that’s the company I’d want to call me,” he says. “If I can get to the essence of the message [about the company], it’ll mean something to the people who work there, but also to the people who buy their products, and maybe even people who don’t know anything about it yet.”
Dorie Clark is a marketing strategist who teaches at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. Learn more about her book Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future (Harvard Business Review Press) and follow her on Twitter.