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The Elvis brand-Still Taking Care of Business September 2, 2010

Posted by Jack Macholl in Brand building, Brand personality, Branding, Elvis, Graceland, Memphis, Uncategorized.


The impact of one human


Last week I had the good fortune of visiting Memphis Tennessee and the Graceland complex, home to the late, great Elvis Presley(who would be 75 this year had he lived). For years this has been on my personal “bucket list” and at long last I too made the pilgrimage to see where the King of Rock and Roll spent his days.  

After experiencing the surroundings and most importantly the kind, helpful people who keep Elvis’ legacy in the forefront of our minds, it occurred to me how thirty-three years after his passing the Elvis brand (and his famous TCB “taking care of business” in a flash-with a lightning bolt graphic) is being kept viable with some of the consistent fundamentals of branding.  

Telling the “story”- many of the employees at Graceland have been there for decades and share personal insights, pointing out subtleties within the exhibits, bonding with the fans/tourists that visit the property. The museums and displays are all impeccably outfitted with storyboards or placards that provide history and background. The “rags to riches” legacy and subsequently the Elvis “brand story” becomes clearer as you tour and absorb the information.  

The brand promise– essentially “what can I expect from your brand?”  The people at Elvis Presley Enterprises get it. You are promised an amazing experience and they do not disappoint.  

The brand personality” the human connection to the brand.”  This is delivered with simplicity and a keen attention to making sure visitors are comfortable, helped promptly and treated as valued guests. Your “need” learning more about Elvis and his life/career is fulfilled by well-organized media presentation backed by people who have certainly received proper education in customer service. In today’s impersonal world, “southern charm,” warm smiles and firm handshakes were a refreshing change from the “hurry up and wait” you experience at most of today’s entertainment venues.  

Although baby boomers who grew up with Elvis are growing old, new generations are hearing the brand story. Connections via Sirius/XM radio (the all-Elvis channel broadcasts from an outdoor sound booth at the Graceland museums), re-issue of his movies, digitally remastered MP3 files on i-Tunes and an endless array of merchandise continues to bolster the brand and most likely decades of new fans.  

Beyond the Graceland complex  marketers in the area clearly cooperate and “cross pollinate” their brands. The Sun Studios Tour (site of Elvis’ first recordings) and the Memphis Rock and Soul Museum all promote one another and even offer shuttle service to and from the destinations. This sense of camaraderie employs hundreds of people and appears to be stimulating the local economy despite the recession/recovery environment.  

The essence of a brand is largely emotional and this is clearly captured in the Graceland experience. I’m certain the King would be pleased to see that people are still taking care of business long after he has left the building.  

Jack at Graceland



1. Tim - September 2, 2010

Hey Jack,
You’re right, the big reason Elvis (and Marlyn Monroe and others) are still popular is the brand they made for themselves, and the corporations that keep their brand alive. Others are reaping the benefits long after their deaths, but it is interesting that neither has done much to reinforce their brand such as how the Rollin’ Stones, The Who, and the Eagles have to tour every so often to keep their brand active.

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