The Ramones – Head Banging And Great Branding
I’ll never forget the first time I heard the Ramones. What a blast. And I mean “blast” in every sense of the word. Yes, there was the trademark, stripped-down, jet-engine guitar roar, but these guys were really just tons of fun. It was, and still is, a blast to listen to the Ramones.
I guess that’s why my kids immediately got it, and why they pogo to the band’s songs to this day. By boiling it all down to its gritty, three-chord essence, the Ramones created primal rock ‘n’ roll that spans generations.
“What we did,” said guitarist Johnny Ramone, “was take out everything that we didn’t like about rock ‘n’ roll and use the rest, so there would be no blues influence, no long guitar solos, nothing that would get in the way of the songs.”
That no-frills approach inspired a punk rock explosion in the late ’70s and gave rise to countless bands that came in the Ramones’ leather-clad wake. The band painstakingly removed every element that wasn’t essential to what they were trying to play and say, and they took that approach all the way to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. In the process they built an enduring brand that has outlived all of the band members.
The now-classic Ramones logo, with its heavy san serif typeface and warped presidential seal, is still ubiquitous and instantly recognizable on t-shirts worn every day all over the planet. And while most of the the band members were more interested in head banging than in branding, they truly lived the role, and their carefully crafted image serves as a good example for anyone trying to build a truly authentic, sustainable brand. And so, we wrap up this branding lesson with the Ramones’ timeless tagline…Gabba Gabba Hey!