Howard Stern is someone who understands the concept of personal brand. He's gone from radio to TV, movies, out of regular radio and over to satellite, back to TV, online, offline, and at least one book. Calling himself the "King of All Media" might be a bit of an exaggeration, but he's proven himself to be a massive hit.

I just read a piece on MediaPost's TV Everywhere blog that talked about Howard Stern's rebranding as a judge on America's Got Talent:

His move to "America's Got Talent" in 2012 was part of a Stern blueprint to build on his core audience and become part of the mainstream. Three seasons in with Stern, the series is a solid summer hit for NBC, unusual for a show in its 10th season. Last week, it was the top-rated non-sports show on network TV.

Looking at Stern's career, here are 7 lessons about branding that stand out.

Think big

Who cares if you're the top dried arrangement florist in a particular neighborhood of Phoenix? Don't slice up what you do to create your own brand. Aim high to become synonymous with a large concept.

Do something different

People can become a brand doing what others do, but it's really hard. Stern was one of the early so-called shock jocks. But he went further than most of them and built a career. Other than he and Don Imus, there aren't a lot of names from that genre that come to mind, because most tried to follow the leaders.

Do something well

It's not enough to be different. Stern may be relaxed in his banter and interviews, but the guy clearly prepares. Work hard so in whatever you do, people will be hard pressed to think of someone who can top you.

Expand laterally

Some people try to get into everything as quickly as possible. You see that a lot with many chefs who want to do TV, books, ingredients, restaurants, cookware, and what have you. But much of this doesn't hold up. Stern expanded sideways into other things that weren't just related to media, but that were types of media themselves. He then adapted his talents and skills to the new media. This is a lot harder than it sounds, by the way. In the early to mid-Twentieth Century, Walter Winchell was a gossip columnist who gained incredible power through newspapers and radio. And then he went to TV, where he flopped. You have to know when to stop. You haven't heard Stern cut a music album, have you?

Keep an eye on the future

Brand is a process of building a relationship with people. It's not something that you do and then rest on. For example, over time you'll lose some audience, customers, or business through natural attrition. Look ahead to where people will be and find ways to get there. The move to America's Got Talent was brilliant, as it made Stern more of a household name for new generations.

Help others grow

As J. Max Robins pointed out in the TV Everywhere piece, Stern has more than 1.6 million followers on Twitter, but he can count on even more support from members of his show, like Robin Quivers, who have their own followings. Stern has helped create careers for multiple people and has earned their loyalty. Relationships are about more than being admired by customers.

Cross promote

Stern uses his exposures in one area to help promote his work in other media. It's like an advanced form of cross-selling. What's being sold is the brand and reputation so people will connect with it -- him, in this case -- in multiple ways.

Published on: Jun 18, 2015