Rock anthems and authentic personal branding – with Night Ranger’s Brad Gillis
The 80s guitar icon is a living lesson in believing in what you do – and finding a way to communicate your passion on LinkedIn
November 15, 2017
Being a rock guitarist isn’t always an easy ride. If you think your business has felt the sharp edge of disruption then spare a thought for those who ply their trade with a Gibson Flying V. Back in the 1990s, Nirvana and the grunge scene seemed to make hair metal and heavy rock extinct overnight, turning off the media spotlight for once world-famous bands. It takes a special kind of musician – in fact, a special kind of professional – to come through all of that with integrity and authenticity intact. In fact, it takes someone like Brad Gillis.
As a guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne and a founding member of Night Ranger in the early 1980s, Brad was there at the start of the MTV music revolution. His band set the soundtrack for the decade and beyond with the monster hit Sister Christian. They released three Platinum albums and put five consecutive singles into the US Billboard Top 20. Brad was one of the most recognisable guitarists in the world at that time and there’s a big part of me that would argue that’s reason enough for inviting him onto The Sophisticated Marketer’s Podcast. But that’s just the start of Brad’s story.
Keeping rock real through the power of personal branding
Brad is a living lesson in the power of personal branding on LinkedIn, and its ability to make things happen. His LinkedIn profile is one of the savviest, most engaging and most influential on the platform: a masterclass in leveraging your creativity and credibility to bring people together, force ideas to collide, and spark opportunity. He’s worked hard at building a network of more than 7,500 LinkedIn connections. He never takes that network for granted (which is why he’s one of the most worthwhile people to follow on LinkedIn), because he knows that it’s the most efficient channel he has for testing new creative ideas – and building momentum behind them.
Brad’s clear about just how hard LinkedIn works for him personally. It’s helped to turn him from a musician that people might remember to somebody lots of influential people are primed to pay attention to. The rock fans of the 1980s are now the presidents of companies, the decision-makers at record labels and the music supervisors of sports channels. Finding and engaging that target audience has helped Brad find new creative channels. It’s made him a key contributor to the soundtrack for TV channels like ESPN and Fox Sports, and a creative partner for hip hop producers looking to sample some orchestrated rock.
Personal branding doesn’t mean pretending to be someone you’re not
More than anything, Brad’s story helps to bust an all-too-prevalent myth about personal branding: it’s not about pretending to be someone you’re not. Rather it’s about communicating the value in who you are.
This is an artist who has stuck to his guns: he and his bandmates still write songs the same way that they did back in 1983 (and having heard their latest album, Don’t Let Up, it still works). They didn’t give up their credibility by playing smaller and smaller venues in the 1990s, they didn’t give up on their connections; they just waited for fickle musical fashion to come back to them and found a way to communicate the value of their creativity in the meantime. Brad bleeds authenticity. With 80s-style rock now roaring back into the mainstream and Night Ranger busier than ever, that authenticity has served him extremely well.
Click on the link below to hear The Sophisticated Marketer’s Podcast interview with Brad in full. You’ll discover how to learn to play guitar by ditching lessons and listening to the radio, and how to choose between supporting Ozzy Osbourne and forming your own band. Most of all though, you’ll learn how to use the power of marketing on LinkedIn to keep yourself both valued and valuable: