In 1965 the musician David Robert Jones decided to call himself David Bowie. But although that’s how the story goes, that name change was not so simple. In reality, although he decided to baptize himself artistically with a surname that was not his own, it was because a new musical artist had begun to emerge in the theaters of London, Davy Jones (the future singer of The Monkees). It is said that when trying to convince him of the need for the change, his manager at the time told him “Don’t let somebody else make money from what you’re doing”. It became his first strategic decision. He recognized himself as a brand.
David Robert Jones thought about maybe Dave Jay, or maybe Alexis Jay, but in the end he decided on Tom Jones. But that idea only lasted a few weeks. Just at that moment, the Tom Jones we all know today (whose real name was in fact Thomas John Woodward) stole the spotlight by releasing his famous single It’s Not Unusual. David Robert Jones had to think of something better.
This time, as a homage to the hero from the Battle of the Alamo, or taken from the name of a popular style of knife from America named as a tribute to the same person, Jones finally decided to adopt the name Bowie for his career as an artist. And at that seminal moment, the name that would become one of the most recognized brands to emerge from popular music in the last 50 years was born. The naming of one of the most iconic artists of our pop era had come from the artist himself.
The singer once said that “Bowie” worked for him as a sort of “medium for a conglomerate of statements and illusions”. He then used these to play with all of us for so many years… Because Bowie was Bowie, but he was also the summation of the characters that he himself superimposed one on top of another, album after album: Ziggy Stardust, Major Tom, the Thin White Duke, and Aladdin Sane are probably one of the reasons why we will never get tired of him… And it is no surprise that he is known as the chameleonic artist. The philosopher Simon Critchley defined him as a “ventriloquist”. Or perhaps he was a clever genius who simply knew how to easily expand, in the manner of Philip Kotler, the line of products in his catalog: with new sizes of packaging, new ingredients, new flavors, etc.
Although the guidelines for the look and feel of his brand may be infinite, his values were solid and authentic and will stay with him forever: reinvention, disruption, freedom, blending, changing… All of this had already come to mean one of his albums carried under your arm in the 1970s, or a ticket to his concert at the Barcelona Olympic Stadium in the 1990s, or sharing his photo on Facebook today… Because Bowie was a guy who was eternally dif-fer-ent. One of the great influencers of our time.
Professor of the Master in Brand Strategy and Creative Brand Management