Spinning a concept into a legendary hip-hop empire
In the early 90’s, the Wu-Tang Clan burst on the hip-hop scene with a rawness all their own. Spearheaded by the group’s visionary, Robert Fitzgerald Digg (aka RZA), Wu-Tang Clan is revered as one of the genre’s all-time greatest hip-hop groups due, in part, to their uncanny ability to turn a niche concept (Shaolin style hip-hop) into multiple spin-offs. Not only have they been able to endear a generation (Gen X) to their music, they are the only hip-hop group to have successfully produced nine solo artists (i.e., RZA, GZA, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Masta Killa, and the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard), and a slew of affiliates and associates. Most recently, the directorial debut of RZA’s kung fu spaghetti western, “The Man with the Iron Fists,” represents the culmination of his steadfast commitment to his dream for the Wu-Tang brand.
So, what does all this have to do with content marketing?
The Wu-Tang Clan and its members’ success is built on a deliberate and methodical strategy that follows the basic principles of content marketing.
Learn about the history and future of content marketing from the video below by the Content Marketing Institute:
Heavily influenced by the Kung Fu Theater genre of English dubbed martial arts films broadcast on U.S. television during the 80’s, namely the classic film,”Shaolin and Wu Tang,” Wu-Tang Clan is known for pioneering a hardcore rap style that consistently creates and delivers high quality, original content. By using a novel concept – telling their story through a hip-hop and martial arts infused lens – they have been able to engage their audience through multiple content channels:
On the topic of branding.
As you click through the links above, you’ll notice an iconic symbol (designed by DJ, producer and Wu Elements Allah Mathematics) woven throughout the group’s multitude of content.
What’s the big deal, every company has a logo?
Well, you might be surprised to know that there are throngs of fans around the world who have taken brand loyalty to a whole new level by literally branding themselves with it.
Paying homage to the group, some of its cult-like fans have gone so far as to have Wu-Tang inspired tattoos burned into their flesh, further extending Wu-Tang’s brand identity and awareness. Now that’s love!
I ❤ McDonald’s fries. God knows I do. But you will NEVER see golden arches burned onto my thighs!
As another testament to the power of the group’s brand, in 2011, Complex named the logo #2 on a list of The 50 Greatest Rap Logos. This recognition further illustrates the power of the group’s brand identity and elevates their cultural icon status to the wizard level. Of course fans and followers expect and receive more than just a cool logo. They receive exactly what they’re looking for when interacting with the Wu-Tang brand:
- passionate lyricists that strive to be the best
- entertaining live concerts
- raw and rugged music videos
- genuine and personable interviews
- cool Wu Wear branded apparel
- humorous and inspiring films with dope soundtracks
These are the types of rich experiences that allow Wu-Tang to stay competitive and continue engaging and retaining fans with graying temples, bangs, and goatees 🙂 as well as acquiring new fans through social media channels like Statigr.am.
NOTE TO SELF: Read Wu-Tang’s content marketing eBook, ‘Mastering the Art & Science of Building a Consistent Brand Experience.’
Over a span of 20 years, Wu-Tang Clan, its members and respective affiliates have achieved what big brands are trying to figure out today – how to become masters of the art of attracting, acquiring, engaging, and retaining millions of fans, err customers, worldwide. Listen to the conversations the group and its members continue to have with its fans by bouncing over to their Twitter and blog and tell me if you think they’re engaged or not with their fans and followers.
I’d be willing to bet the original architects of the Wu-Tang Clan’s content strategy don’t realize how instrumental they have been in harnessing the power of what we now call content marketing.
Having the intellect and desire to create can bring you out of humble beginnings and in to a world filled with possibilities.