Usually, when we think of brands we think of products and services. We think of Amazon, Asda, Nike and Adidas. Our world is decorated with advertising from these global organisations. Years and years of carefully thought out comms have made these brands the household names they are today. Consistency, purpose, value and innovation have all enabled these brands to be relatable and memorable. These are all brands with high brand affinity and consumers often rely on them.
What we don't often think of when someone asks us to suggest a brand, is people. Although for many, self brands are at the heart of careers, business's and sometimes even products.
So, now we've mentioned it, the obvious examples of self brands would be Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerburg. These tech giants are household names and arguably brands in themselves. A self brand ensured their organisations didn't go faceless and were relatable and memorable to consumers.
However, aside from the tech industry, we want to explore the ideas of international pop star, Beyonce (here comes the fan girling), as an international brand.
The music industry is a saturated one, there are female artists headlining shows and topping the charts across the globe. However, not all of them have the fame, power, fan base and impact of Beyonce. We want to explore some of the ways she's harnessed strategic marketing to create a worldwide iconic brand, above the rest.
So, here it is; Seven brand lessons we can take from Beyonce:
1. Supporting Ethical & Political Movements.
Beyonce takes a stance.
She uses her music and fame as a way of conveying strong views and opinions. She uses her status and image to back important humanitarian movements. Known for her strong opinions regarding the equal rights of women and blacks, Beyonce resonates with her audience. She empowers her fans across the globe and shows an ethical side, one that encourages support and affinity.
Brand takeaway: Showing responsibility and ethical action for wider issues encourages affinity.
Beyonce representing The Black Panthers at The Super Bowl 2016.
Beyonce's stage set for her On The Run tour.
Beyonce launches BeyGOOD to support education.
2. The Nothing Effect.
Sometimes less is more. Or, in this instance, nothing is more. While other brands and icons spends weeks promoting new albums or singles to sell records, Beyonce did the exact opposite.
After weeks of silence, Beyonce often builds tension around her next big move. She has been known to surprise fans by dropping albums and major tour announcements with little to no prior marketing. Sending her fan base into frenzy, her non existent marketing turns into powerful PR that's spreads like wildfire. A silent strategy, as such, also enables Beyonce to assert her credible status, ones that fuels her fame - 'so famous, there's no need for marketing'. Certain her following will support her work regardless, helps builds Beyonce's A-list image.
Brand takeaway: Stand out by going against the grain and alternative strategies. Confidence in execution can result in powerful (and free) PR.
3. Innovation & Added Value.
Beyonce tries new things.
Beyonce earns her leadership status in the music industry by producing innovative concepts ahead the rest. In 2016 Beyonce dropped her new album Lemonade. However, instead of releasing songs shortly followed by separate music videos, Beyonce added value to consumers investing in her music buy providing added entertainment an something different. Lemonade dropped as a 'visual album' with a full entourage of music videos, each separately supporting a single song. Meaningful and cryptic, Beyonce also produced a full length collation video spanning an hour and fifteen minutes. This bonus content was included when fans purchased her album, adding surprise and delight into her offering.
Brand takeaway: Provide consumers with something extra, something they were not expecting. Added value and entertainment will support word of mouth PR as well as engagement,
4. Strategic PR.
Beyonce makes statements and she makes them well. Known for dramatic mic drops, elevator drama and artistic baby announcements, Beycone cuts to the chase with bold statements.
In 2011 Beyonce announced her first pregnancy with a mic drop at The VMAs, while six years later she announced the birth of twins with a beautifully art directed (and slightly extra) viral photograph on Instagram. Currently sitting at the third most liked photo on Instagram, it seems 'subtle' is not a word in Beyonce's vocabulary; she creates her own PR.
(Don't fancy watching the whole thing? Skip to 4:18 for the mic drop)
Brand takeaway: Be bold, be brave. Think strategic about A-Z comms.
Beyonce has nurtured her fan base and by coining a term of them, 'The Beehive', she has created an adoring and loyal worldwide community. The Beehive gives fans something to identify with, something to be part of.
Brand takeaway: Focus on building communities, while bring fans and consumers together. Give them something to be proud of, something they are willing to identify as in order to fuel support and engagement.
Back in 2016 Beyonce took her music off all other music subscription platforms and offered her work exclusively on Tidal.
Supporting her husband, Jay Z, with his new music subscription platform, Beyonce frames her work as exclusive.
Brand takeaway: Think bout how your brand can be deemed desirable by creative exclusivity. Build tension and demand by making people wait, make people want.
7. Personable & Human.
Beyonce's famous and fortune is unattainable to the majority of the worlds population. Yet, despite her super human nature, Beyonce has ensured her self brand has personality. Seasoning her self image with personal home footage and photography, Beyonce has created a relatable brand. In 2013 Beyonce released a biographic documentary, Life Is But A Dream. The TV show aired on US TV channel HBO and demonstrated never seen before footage of Beyonce's life and family. In addition to this, Beyonce broadcasted home footage on the stage backdrop of her On The Run tour with husband Jay Z.
Despite Beyonce portrayal of consistent perfection, she still communicates a softer, behind the scenes image that makes her relatable and likeable.
Brand takeaway: Show your human side. Stop hiding behind squeaky clean logos and polished slogans. Relatable, three dimensial brands who break down the forth wall are highly engaging.