Brand Storytelling and Metallica

This spot from Guitar Center remains one of my all-time favorites and the article below provides some fascinating behind-the-scenes insights on why it’s so effective (spoiler alert:  just tell a good story).

The article is worth the read, but here’s what stood out to me the most:

Don’t Talk About the Brand

Truth be told, the purity of the storytelling is striking. Even more so in the most recent productions where Guitar Center has skipped the opening from previous years where the musicians said “Hi! I’m [artist’s name], I’m at Guitar Center.”

When you have a rockstar in front of the camera in your music store it’s of course tempting to get him to say something like that. But it ruins the opening because it fails to hook the viewers on a feeling.

Also, viewers already know who’s talking (e.g. from the title line below the video) so why say it again?

Brands need to stop talking about themselves. That’s one of the lessons learned from the Guitar Center case.

The Greatest Feeling on Earth

Another lesson is that you need to identify your underlying message. What are you trying to say? 

With the launch of their “Greatest Feeling On Earth” brand campaign, Guitar Center has managed to hone in on what their message has to be.

“It’s not about the guitars, not about the expert staff,” Dustin Hinz explains. “It’s about the one reason we all play music: The incredible feeling it provides you.”

Back to Matthew …

In the end, the way we react to advertising isn’t that different than the way we react to people, is it?  Would you rather experience something value-forward (Inform me. Inspire me.  Entertain me.) that puts you, the viewer, first?  Or would you rather be assaulted by a Me Monster brand?

What would happen if we simply added an element of empathy to our messaging efforts?


Matthew Porter writes about decoding success, creative leadership, marketing, and productivity.

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P.S. Want to make your own Metallica-style logo like the one above? Click here.

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