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Be The Top Banana…(or at least one we’ll remember)

My oldest son is 13. He and a couple of his (wonderful) knucklehead buddies like to record original songs whenever they are goofing around. This band incarnation goes by the handle Velvet Banana. Most of their current material revolves around the digestive process, but they are certain to reinvent themselves as they grow.

Now, if the name Velvet Banana sounds oddly familiar, you’ve obviously got some appreciation for the history of modern music. It was in the late 1960’s that Lou Reed and John Cale collaborated to begin what would come to be known as The Velvet Underground. Their debut album, The Velvet Underground & Nico (released in 1967) was an acquired taste, to be sure, but would go on to later be recognized as one of the most important albums in rock history. Even if you’ve never cared to listen to the music, chances are you are familiar with the album cover…you know the one – the “banana” album.

Andy Warhol, who managed the band during this period, presented the band as performance art, rather than just a musical group. That’s why a record that sold a relatively small amount of copies in its day still resonates as one of the most memorable. “Stickiness” personified.

So why did it work? There are a million bands toiling away, trying to establish a name, a niche, a message, or maybe just a buck…how did this group, which included an electric violin player, a female drummer, and a lead singer who sounded like he was reading the telephone book, succeed?

  • THEY FOCUSED INWARD ~ A quick search on LinkedIn shows over a half-million recruiters with active profiles. Choosing to look at your competition as a half-million people would be self-defeating. Look inward, not outward, when determining “who” you are. This band looked inward, and then gave an honest assessment of who they were, not who they thought others wanted them to be.
  • AUDIENCE AWARENESS ~ “Acquired taste,” remember? The “Underground” were not immediately embraced by a large audience….but that was the plan. They played for the audience they desired, even at the cost of numbers. Who is your audience? Are you playing for the client? For the candidate? What are you doing for that audience? Trying to play for broad appeal makes you Nickelback…you don’t want that to happen, do you…DO YOU?
  • DIFFERENTIATION ~ The freaking “banana,” the non-traditional instruments, the experimental records, the Warhol circus, “The Exploding Plastic Inevitable,” this was all part of the brand (and band) experience called Velvet Underground. Look at your industry peers in recruiting sometime – how many profiles/pictures/messages stand out to you? What about any recruiter makes he or she memorable? What makes you memorable?

So, 649K recruiters on LinkedIn; 158K “Executive Recruiters;” 258K Sales Recruiters; 232K IT Recruiters; 20K headhunters – how in the world do you stand out?

I know where you can start; May 8th, 2pm on the “Recruiting Makeover” webinar. Jobvite and Fistful of Talent present a look at how recruiting has become more and more dependent on marketing skills. 

Learn from the best and steal ideas…that’s pretty much what we’re saying here, right?

Rock on. 

Register HERE!

Talent Acquisition Executive, team-builder, and full-time dreamweaver. Creative Director, Content Designer, Writer, Speaker, Entrepreneur, terrible golfer, lover of The Art of War & Texas Hold 'Em.

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  • April 25, 2014, 2:31 am

    HRHardball,

    Great analogy, using your son’s band and The Velvet Underground to show the importance of standing out against the competition while still remaining true to who you are. I really enjoyed reading this piece; I shared this one on Twitter! Hope others will find this helpful and interesting as I did.

    Christy

  • April 25, 2014, 11:17 am

    Thanks so much Christy, it was actually a lot of fun to write this one as well ~ glad you enjoyed it.

  • April 25, 2014, 6:29 am

    This would apply to other roles and industries too. I’m starting to think I need more contemporary marketing training just to attract clients and/or find a FT job and I’m not in HR.

  • April 25, 2014, 11:14 am

    No doubt, Andi ~ branding starts with the individual, right? Something needs to differentiate us – I’d encourage you to listen into the webinar; just like the issue applies to other roles, I’m sure the strategies to address the issue are as well.