Who is your favorite one-name celebrity? Madonna, Prince, Bono, Sade? My favorite is Slash. It’s not even a name, it’s an action, a motion, or a punctuation mark / . Slash doesn’t need authentication, he doesn’t need a last name – that man can play the damn guitar.
I recently produced a t-shirt project for Slash’s new album. No surprise that he went with a skull and crossbones for the design – that’s always in style for Pirates and Rockers. A few years ago, skulls came back as a fashion trend, even for the non-hardcore and non-swashbuckler. As a guy that makes t-shirts for a living, I saw skulls everywhere, and I’ll admit it got a little tired. Why didn’t I feel that way about these shirts for Slash? What’s the difference between him and everyone else? Well, Slash would have shirts with skulls on them in 1987, 1999, 2010, or 2056. That’s not being trendy, that’s being authentic.
Guns N Roses is one of the most iconic bands of my generation, and Slash’s guitar became the backbone of their signature sound. You might not be a fan of hard rock, but you gotta admire the ability to cement your place in pop culture, brand yourself as a virtuoso, and become known as one of the best ever in your profession.
Okay, so you don’t shred the guitar on stage in front of packed stadiums. How can you brand yourself or your business as authentic and timeless? What can you learn from the man with one name?
- Be YOU regardless of the situation. Regardless of who you’re hanging out with, where you are, where you work or go to school. You might not fit in with the trendy crowd but you will always be cool. Slash wears a top hat, has hair covering his face at all times, and usually has a smoke hanging from his lip. Sure it’s cool now because he’s “Slash” but there were times in his life when that look was not fitting-in. Better to be an outcast as yourself than a cool pretender.
- Stop paying attention to rivals. Yep, I said it. If you want to read a business blog about how studying your competition is good, there are plenty. Everyone is so concerned with what the competition is doing. “Will meet or beat,” or “bring in a competitor’s coupon,” you’ve heard it all. Your competitors might be doing something right but you can never truly match it – even if you come close you will be perceived as a copycat. Do your best to be your best. To be authentic you have to be an innovator – you can’t focus on innovation with one eye on someone else.
- Stop using the word “Supposed.” Doing what you’re “supposed” to do is overrated. It only means you are living up to someone else’s expectations. What if you’re better than that? When you worry about what you’re “supposed” to do, what you’re “supposed” to say, you will never sink into the confident feeling of owning your actions, owning your success.
- Form your own band. So you don’t fit the trend? There are others – find them, appreciate your differences. Provide each other a safe haven for creativity and individuality. Slash has collaborated with an wide array of artists from all musical styles – including Michael Jackson, Ray Charles, Insane Clown Posse, Fergie, Ozzy Osbourne, and the guy from Maroon 5.
- Broadcast. People can’t get to know what is special about you if you don’t put it out there. Don’t hide the weird things – expose them, let people get to know the real you. Don’t worry about showing your best side, your most presentable traits. You are only delaying the inevitable – at some point people will figure out who you truly are. They might like you for your flaws or your inner weirdo, but not if you try to hide it.
Be yourself, be authentic, be the rockstar in your life.