Word-of-Mouth and Referral Marketing Blog

How ROLI’s Seaboard GRAND Became Popular Worldwide Through Word-of-Mouth

Founded in 2009, ROLI has become a growing force in the music market. From winning awards to catching the eyes of professionals and music enthusiasts everywhere, ROLI managed to successfully catapult its innovative line of MIDI controllers into the global arena.

Just how did this London-based startup achieve such phenomenal success?

1. Debuted an unconventional product in a niche market that had a “wow” factor

Sporting a unique minimal aesthetic look which ran against the conventional grain of intimidating-looking MIDI controllers, ROLI had the “wow” factor. This helped to spread word-of-mouth of the new kid on the block, catching the attention of popular media sites like Engadget, VICE, The Telegraph, Dazed and Confused Magazine and Stuff Magazine UK.

The very first public performance of the Seaboard GRAND at a TED talk by ROLI’s CEO Roland Lamb helped lay the foundation for their invention to be seen as the keyboard of the future.

ROLI’s success in combining technological breakthroughs and music-making helped the company secure critical funding from big companies like Universal Music Group. ROLI went on to nab numerous awards including a “Best of CES 2016” where they were the only British company to win such an award.

2. Making a good first impression with crisp video teasers


Zero voiceovers. Zero dialogue. ROLI’s first video teaser featured a pair of very talented hands playing music on the Seaboard GRAND. In less than a minute, the video showed off the controller’s style and music-making potential. The teaser went viral, raking in over a million views.

ROLI followed this up with similarly styled “Seaboard GRAND Overview” video which highlighted specifics that made the Seaboard stand out from the rest. The video also broke the million view count and received a flurry of positive responses online. By letting their products speak for themselves, ROLI effectively drummed up a sustained interest in their brand.

3. A memorable tagline that echoes their product’s strength: ‘Make Music Now’


With “Make Music Now”, ROLI wants anyone to be able to pick up their product and make expressive music. With a dedicated support forum and a range of tutorials on their official YouTube channel, the company shows that they are genuinely interested in helping new users start making music right away with the Seaboard.

4. Won the support of influential musicians


ROLI also invited popular musicians like Snarky Puppy, Rachel Sermanni, Corrie Dick, Jordan Rudess, and sound designers like Charlie Morrow over to their studio to get up close and personal with the Seaboard for their “SoundHive Sessions” series.

This helped to bolster ROLI’s word-of-mouth and present the Seaboard as something that is easy to use. ROLI’s open collaboration with musicians also helped increase consumer confidence in the brand.

5. Diversifying their product line and acquiring new technologies

Building on the positive response for the Seaboard GRAND, ROLI created a smaller portable version with a more affordable price tag called the Seaboard RISE to cater for users on the go.

The company also debuted a free mobile app on the App store called NOISE which allowed users to get a taste of what was possible with the Seaboard controller right on their phone. ROLI promoted their app with a Star Wars themed video called “The Force Touch Awakens” which featured the NOISE app and the Seaboard RISE playing a tune from the popular movie franchise.

Released on the opening day of “Star Wars Episode VII – The Force Awakens”, the creative video helped ROLI generate positive word-of-mouth. It landed on the radar of popular websites like The Verge, SlashGear and Gizmodo which praised the company for using the Force Touch function in Apple’s mobile devices to great effect.

ROLI’s drive to stay on top of the market by actively seeking out and acquiring technologies like JUCE and blend.io also brought them even greater word-of-mouth as a company that is passionate about pushing boundaries of music creation.

6. Creating a ROLI community through partnerships and feedback


ROLI continues to build up their community by focusing on three main pillars: the artists, the studios and the education sector.

ROLI partnered with music producer Keith Harris, London O’ Connor, Goldfrapp’s Will Gregory, Jordan Rudess and many more to showcase the Seaboard controllers.


The company also partnered with Sound and Music to initiate the “Embedded_Innovate” composer residency for musicians to create with the Seaboard. As part of a partnership with Abbey Road Institute, ROLI also shared music compositions made by students using the Seaboard RISE.

ROLI’s efforts in building up a global community eventually caught the attention of popular award-winning musician AR Rahman, who partnered with ROLI to introduce students at KM Music Conservatory in Chennai to the Seaboard.


ROLI continually shows their support for their ROLI Creators by using social media to share videos of jamming sessions and new masterpieces made with the Seaboard. ROLI’s enthusiasm in promoting both their products, and also the musicians who use their products, helped them to achieve an outstanding amount of support and love from the community.


  1. Unconventional product in a niche with a wow factor
  2. Good first impression with high-quality video
  3. Memorable tagline
  4. Won over popular musicians (influencers)
  5. Diversifying their product line and acquiring new technologies
  6. Created a ROLI community through partnerships and feedback, supporting creators


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Prakash Haridas

Prakash Haridas

Prakash is a blogger, animator and a geek. When he's not busy catching up with movies or playing video games, Prakash enjoys meddling with technology, experimenting with media and creating hybrid artworks.

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