business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Michael Sansolo

Getting on top is never easy. Staying there is even tougher.

Just think about a single day here in MNB like yesterday. We had stories about the serious challenges facing New York retailers Fairway and D’Agostino, as well as the ongoing seeming inability of Sears to connect with any shoppers.

Building a success is a tall order. A brand needs to be distinct, important and somehow adaptable to change - all at the same time. It’s no wonder that building and maintaining a brand overwhelms so many.

Not the Boss though.

I refer, of course, to Bruce Springsteen.

In all honesty, I had no intention of writing about a recent Bruce Springsteen concert that my wife and I attended. I went because Bruce is a personal pleasure of mine and has been since the 1970s, though my wife and I never had been able to get tickets.

But it’s impossible to watch Bruce without appreciating the brand that the Boss has both become and maintained. Bruce manages to convey authenticity, hard work, difference and joy. Taken together, this is a powerful recipe and lesson in success.

Right at the beginning of the concert, Bruce promised a transformative experience and he meant it. As Springsteen fans know, his concerts are always worth the money and ours was no exception. The Boss and his E Street Band played vigorously for slightly more than three and a-half hours; no small feat when you consider that many of the musicians are in their 60s.

What’s more, the 66-year-old Springsteen never takes a break, still manages to repeatedly wander out into the crowd to mingle with fans, dances at times with audience members and even did a short bit of crowd surfing. Yes, the aging process is evident on the faces of the band members, but there’s no sign of fatigue or boredom in their performances.

Bruce’s brand is energy and his performance still brings that. It would impossible to guess how many times he has performed "Born to Run," "Thunder Road" or "Rosalita," yet he manages to do all three as if this were the first time and the audience is the first ever to hear him and sing along. There’s no sense at all that he’s resting on his laurels or phoning it in.

The old adage that "those who love what they do never work a day" seems to apply to the entire Springsteen ensemble.

After all these years of performing and recording, Springsteen has obviously become enormously wealthy and yet still manages to convey a common touch. On his current tour he explains some of the influences of his songs from "The River," including hard family and economic times faced by his own relatives.

And while tickets to his concerts might price out those very same people, he remains outspoken against ticket brokers buying up and reselling his concert tickets at significantly marked up prices. At the concert we attended special precautions were taken to ensure that ticket buyers were the same people appearing at the door. Sure it made for a less-than-easy entry process, but everyone understood why.

A business that understands what matters to customers is what matters most is a brand with staying power. And it’s one that keeps fan like us running to get tickets.

Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available on Amazon by clicking here. And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon by clicking here.
KC's View: