Howard Stern Branding Genius…Or Just a Pervert?

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If there is one thing that you can learn from artists and savvy businessmen, it's that you can draw inspiration from practically anything, even from the mundane or offbeat. That is, if you keep an open mind.




These are just some of the ideas people often associate with shock jock Howard Stern‘s name.

Don't believe me?

Listen to how he deals with a fan's “constructive” feedback here:

His critics may not run out of unsavory words to say about the self-proclaimed “King of All Media,” but if you look closely at his success, from his career in radio to his foray into writing books and even TV shows, you'd know that he's on to something really good and that you can pick up several lessons from him.

I just read a piece on MediaPost's TV Everywhere blog that talked about Howard Stern's rebranding as a judge on America's Got Talent:

His move to “America's Got Talent” in 2012 was part of a Stern blueprint to build on his core audience and become part of the mainstream. Three seasons in with Stern, the series is a solid summer hit for NBC, unusual for a show in its 10th season. Last week, it was the top-rated non-sports show on network TV.

Here's how you can build a brand like Howard Stern.

Be Interesting

When Stern opens his mouth, people are sure to listen. It doesn't matter if you agree with him or not. You may say that's part of his genius or talent, and it very well may be.

But the takeaway here is to make your brand interesting to your target audience. No, you do not have to shock them, but you have to find ways to garner attention.

Set Your Brand Apart

Apart from the passionate delivery of his opinions, take note that those opinions by themselves are well-formed, even if they go against widely held beliefs. In building your brand, resist the temptation to fit in.

In a crowded niche, the last thing that you want is to fit in and dissolve into the background. Get your brand noticed by differentiating it or, as some people would say, by waving your freak flag.

Define Your Brand

A corollary to becoming interesting and setting your brand apart is defining your brand. What values does it stand for? But apart from being a mantra, your values serve as your rallying cry.

Despite toning down his image for America's Got Talent, you'll notice Stern knows how to play his strengths to his advantage even if it means making a few compromises. Stick to your values, bend here and there, but remain true to what you've set your sights on .

Build a Community

Stern's move from terrestrial radio to satellite radio (which, way back in 2006 was a fledgling platform) may seem like an altogether bad move that could have resulted in massive losses on his part.

Part of Stern's success can be attributed to his courage to take a risk.

Another aspect of that successful move can be attributed to the loyalty of his fans.

What you can learn here is not only about taking risks and taking advantage of opportunities; more importantly, it is about establishing a solid connection with your followers by constantly reaching out to them — a task that's not too difficult, even for newbies, considering the wealth of tools available today.


This article titled, Build a Brand Like Howard Stern: 4 Lessons from the ‘King of All Media' originally appeared in my column on Huffington Post.

That article got noticed by the “King of All Media”, and earned me an appearance on his show.  You can listen to the highlights here:

About the author

Brian Ainsley Horn

Brian Ainsley Horn is considered to be the “pioneer of authority marketing”, which has exploded in popularity recently. His unique methods have been talked about and covered on The Howard Stern Show, Wall Street Journal, ABC, Perez Hilton, CBS News , Forbes, Advertising Age and dozens of other media outlets. Brian is the co-founder of the consulting firm, Authority Alchemy, and also writes for Huffington Post and Entrepreneur Magazine about authority marketing and personal branding.

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