Black metal is known for its shrieking vocals, dramatic live shows and unreadable band logos - but certainly not for its modern marketing. Wrongly, as the Polish black metal band Behemoth proves, whose long-lasting success is a lesson in modern brand building. Not just for metal brands, but for all brands. Here are four things they do that your brand or your clients could do well to learn from:
1. Overperform Digitally
Covid hit the event and music industry hard. All live performances and tours were cancelled. But instead of merely compiling live videos and albums of past concerts to monetise online like many others did, Behemoth relies on the power of unique experiences.
With their interactive live concert ‘In Absentia Dei’ they have set new standards in the genre - high quality storytelling and setting, freely selectable camera perspectives, state-of-the-art digital infrastructure. Online pre-sale tickets (available in different bundles with digital backstage), social-first application and dedicated merch for those who were there. A unique experience for the fans, a new brand channel for the band. Behemoth managed to provide a replacement for the live music experience that Covid eliminated - not with a bad copy of a concert, but with an experience invented for digital channels.
Another reason for their digital success: Behemoth makes it easy for fans to buy from them. The band doesn't hide their store on their general website - like many other bands and brands do - but has created a dedicated and optimized online place for it
. Easy to navigate, responsive, fast and simple. Sounds obvious in today's world, but in fact it still isn't. Especially not in the Metal industry.
Sure, Behemoth's webstore is not as modern as Apple's. But - and this is the crucial point - it is more modern than that of most metal bands. The best orange does not need to taste better than ice cream - it needs to taste better than every other damn orange.
2. Prioritise Quality (everywhere)
Every product I've ever experienced, owned or used from Behemoth (and there are quite a few) has been top notch. Starting with the music (OK, that's a matter of taste), to the artistic quality of their covers, costumes, shows and performances. But also the production quality of the audio and video content as well as the high quality materials and processing of their merch. A real differentiator in the case of metal shirts, that are worn for a very long time and washed a lot.
But quality doesn't end with the product; communication and infrastructure are equally important. Fans feel that their expectations are being taken seriously. The livestreaming of Behemoth's concert was better than some of the major streaming providers' Champions League matches. Orders are traceable transparently - in the band's style, not the logistic provider's!
You can feel that quality is important to the band. In everything they do. As a result, fans trust every one of their products - and therefore their brand. And without trust, there is no Love Brand.
3. Communicate Consistently
Behemoth is certainly not the start-up among black metal bands. They were founded as early as 1991. But those who have a lot of time as a brand also have a lot of time to destroy a brand. Behemoth has done the opposite. Their visual world is instantly recognisable in the replaceable world of black metal. They use key visuals, testimonials, and phrases that connect them consistently to fans.
Behemoth's fans are called Legions - and are always addressed as such. They are included and taken seriously. They are part of the brand.
This starts on the records, lives on all their social media channels, and ends with the perfectly branded package tape that makes you want to rip it open.
4. Diversify Surprisingly
Strong brands don't bore, they surprise. Fan loyalty does not mean expectability. Brands must have the courage to break out, to experiment. Behemoth does just that.
They sell lovingly packaged, high-quality coffee. Or vegan soap made in Poland - in black, of course. Or scented candles made from black soy wax - with a myrrh scent.
The products are high-priced because they are high-quality. And they show the brand's courage to leave the beaten paths of the industry. The fans notice and honor it.
Behemoth is a love brand. Because they take their fans seriously and integrate them in their storytelling. Because they always focus on quality. Because they surprise. Because they are digital pioneers in their industry. And not in the short term, but for many years. Because love brands, whether in the metal scene, in the automotive industry or in the fashion sector, are not created overnight. They are made by fans, advocates, ambassadors, users and customers. They are made by legions.
Image credit: Gorz Gołębiowski