What do great enduring brands and Led Zeppelin have in common?
On the surface, not much, I thought. But recently while in London, I found myself watching the attached BBC video with the band’s maestro lead guitarist, Jimmy Page, and I realized how very integral design is not only to differentiation, but also to creating anything that is built to last.
Specifically, in his fascinating narrative, Page describes the thought process behind creating his anthem, “Stairway to Heaven,” and how he and the band set out early on to “design the song on every level.” As I listened, it struck me how very similar musical composition can be to the design of verbal and visual brands that are meant to endure over time.
Here, Page describes the levels of “intent” and design that went into crafting “Stairway,” to a degree rarely discussed in rock ‘n roll. To be sure, Page relays that the song was actually constructed in layers that were meant to unfold over time – building in momentum and intensity across many levels, as the song progresses:
“The idea behind ‘Stairway’ was to have a piece of music or composition, whereby it would just keep unfolding into layers or moods, and the intensity would actually accelerate at every level – every emotional level, every musical level. And so it just keeps opening up as it continues through its passage…and the running order from beginning to end was mapped out, so everything starts to open up on this map, on this journey throughout. And all of this stuff was planned, it was not an accident, or everyone sort of chipping in – it really was sort of designed.”
As brand consultants, we often toil long hours to design experiences (both verbal and visual) that almost feel pre-ordained – as if it were meant to be. And if we are successful, and much like the curation Jimmy Page describes – a brand will unfold in layered experiences that flow naturally, but interestingly, are very intended and orchestrated, to be sure.
Enjoy the video – Page, “Stairway” and the discussion are classic, and certainly have met the threshold of being designed to endure.
Author: David Keefe, Managing Partner, CDG NYC