Hot for Teacher? The Van Halen Guide to Creating Your Lust Worthy Brand

kimberly bordonaro van halen Have you met Kimberly Bordonaro? Well, get to meeting her. Any girl who rocks a Beastie Boys t-shirt is tops in my book. She has 80s-flavored, yet timeless insights on finding your voice — all brought to you by one of my favorite songs of all time: Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher”.

Hands up: who has a blogger crush?

I’m talking the sitting-down-for-hours-reading-every-blog-post-and-buying-every-product-ever-made kind type of obsession.

Okay… and maybe you found yourself staring at their picture in a way that would induce a restraining order if you were publically caught. (Don’t worry, I won’t tell Erika.)

Now, how does that compare to your brand?

Meh … Do you feel kinda klike a boring old librarian shushing business away?

Sit down, Waldo. Class is in session…

History 101: Children, Strippers, and a Legendary Rock Song

Back in the early 80’s, when MTV played music videos, Van Halen ruled the network with “Hot for Teacher” playing on constant rotation.

The fourth single off of their 1984 album, the song didn’t hit as high on the charts as their first single “Jump” — yet viewers were obsessed with the song’s video.

Was it the kickass drum solo?

The mesmerizing guitar riffs?

Eddie’s belligerent dance moves?

Diamond Dave’s whacky charisma?

Yes, but there was something else that factored into its success…

The teacher, duh!

The video’s concept was to boldly illustrate that Van Halen’s bad boy behavior started in childhood. So they used the opportunity to tell a story about what it was like to be school kids (played by mini-versions of the band members) who have a crush on a teacher.

Oh, and about those teachers… make them strippers.

So, what happened next? Angry parents.

Specifically, the Parents Music Resource Center got their panties in a bunch and demanded the video be yanked off-air.

News flash: angry parents are the way to a rebellious teen’s heart!

So here’s a little math lesson illustrating how it all played out:

Fuming parents + defiant teenage fans = buzz (press, plays, and purchases)

Of course, Van Halen fans LOVED it.

They still love it. The song ranks #3 among Rolling Stone’s Top 10 Favorite Van Halen Songs and #36 on VH1’s 2009 list of 100 Greatest Rock Songs of All Time.

So what do Erika Napoletano and your business have to do with Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher”?

Grab your pencil and start taking notes…

Cheat Sheet: 3 Tips for Creating Your Rock Solid Brand

Lesson 1: Do Your Homework

 “I think of all the education that I missed, but then again, homework was never quite like this!”

A funny thing happens when you start running a business:  doing homework means making money.

Let’s bring this point back to why you become captivated by a blogger like Erika.  It’s as simple as this: she edutains on the topics you care about.

That doesn’t just magically happen. Erika did her homework.

It’s no different from Van Halen understanding what it takes to provoke their fans into buying their albums and watching their music videos.

Assignment: Create a description of your typical client, including demographics, psychographics, what they want to accomplish, and their main challenges (as it pertains to your industry/business). Use this to guide your content, services, and product offerings. Come up with 3 blog posts that will solve a problem and bring value to their lives.

Lesson 2: Bold is Buzz Worthy

“Little Girl from Cherry Lawn how can you be so bold? How did you know that golden rule?”

A blazing redhead that gets your business unstuck AND calls out bullshit with bitch slaps and unpopular thoughts? F*#@ yeah, Erika knows that being bold in business is the surefire way to getting attention and driving website traffic.

So does that mean you need to throw some curses in your copywriting or piss off a bunch of parents with stripping school teachers to get noticed? Absolutely not. That’s Erika’s style – not necessarily yours.

Assignment: Determine what makes you genuinely bold and positions you differently from everyone else in your niche. This could be through your tone, approach to business, or fulfilling a market need that isn’t being met by your “competitors”. Be able to state your boldness and how it brings value to your audience in a single sentence. Erika gets people unstuck. What’s yours?

Lesson 3: Legendary Brands Start with the A & R Perspective

“I got it bad, got it bad, got it bad. I’m hot for teacher.”

Record labels know that not every group has what it takes to become a legend like Van Halen, a brand that can still pull in fans after 35 years and a revolving door of band members. That’s why they hire A & R  (Artist and Repertoire) reps to cut through the bullshit and find marketable talent that can produce hits.

This is true for all brands. It takes hard work and talent to develop legendary brand. Taking an objective look at your business is the first step to getting you’re your audience hot for you.

Assignment:  Objectively view your brand from The A & R Perspective to determine your strengths and weaknesses. Then, form your brand strategy for transforming your business into a legendary brand.


Kimberly Bordonaro Van HalenKimberly Bordonaro is a branding consultant who transforms tenacious entrepreneurs into profitable brands. Described by The Huffington Post as one of the “Nations Top Personal Branding Experts”, she is known for delivering astute branding advice through lyrical metaphors on her blog at – a site that has been praised for addictively fun and action-packed information. Connect with her on Twitter at @brandspiration.

17 replies
  1. connectyou
    connectyou says:

    Great piece!  Love the style, layout, and the assignments.
    A great resource for entrepreneurs that need to get “unstuck” and “hot for teacher.”
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. kittiewalker
    kittiewalker says:

    Great article Kim! 
    First concert I ever went to was Van Halen at the Rainbow in London circa. 1979 at the grand old age of 8. I’ve been an avid Dave Lee Roth fan ever since! 
    I actually think there’s a lot you can learn from a business the size of Van Halen in their heyday. In fact another great article about business lessons to learn from Van Halen landed in my inbox this morning from the blog at
    From a branding and business perspective they got it bang on – well until it all devolved into a childish spat!

  3. GettysburgGerry
    GettysburgGerry says:

    Kim, love it! Have to honest however, you had me at Strippers….Guess what is playing on MyNewSpace at this moment??? 
    Funny thing, my first concert was Zepplin at MSG in 76, Stairway to Heaven…now I am a social media astronaut….hmmm is there a connection there…a blog post at least…
    Great stuff as always Kim, always a pleasure to read your articles…


    • brandspiration
      brandspiration says:

      GettysburgGerry Ha! My first concert was Radiohead. Is there a theme going on here – or am I “creep”? I appreciate you stopping by to comment and sharing my post, Gerry.

  4. BlissomBooble
    BlissomBooble says:

    Love this! As someone who went from being a HS English teacher to a Burlesque Performer and then played a stripping teacher with pasties, this article says it all!

  5. Louis Barksdale
    Louis Barksdale says:

    Flashbacks of big hair and tight pants (and I’m talking about the guys unfortunately). 
    Branding has seemed to become a new kind of buzz word.  It really helps with examples like this to understand what it actually means.  It’s not some fancy shmancy word to make you sound like you know what you’re doing or talking about, but actually has real purpose.
    Perception, Visualization, Awareness, I guess, Branding, yes?
    Good stuff.  Looking forward to more.  Always helpful to have real world examples.   How about some Snoop Dog next time.  I’m sure there’s a ton you can do with a grass is always greener connection. : )


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