Marketing Association Amsterdam · Music Marketing

Taylor Swift: The Re-Branding Queen

We’ve all heard of Taylor Swift, the singer/songwriter who started as a country starlet and managed to completely crossover and convert into a full-fledged pop superstar with her latest and very successful album 1989. She is the most followed celebrity on Instagram (62.32 million), Twitter (more than 60 million) and has the on-demand music industry at her feet.

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Whether you love her or hate her, it is undeniable that she is a trendsetter, not only in music but in everything she sets her mind to. However, it wasn’t always so smooth for Swift, she had to overcome major bumps before she made it to where she is now – Forbes’ list of the world’s highest paid celebrities with position #8. How did this happen you say? Here is a major marketing insight that places Taylor Swift at the top of her game:

 

She Reinvented Herself: Re-Branding – A vital part of a sustainable marketing strategy is to know how your company, your brand, your product is perceived and Taylor Swift’s team did exactly that analysis. Not too long ago, in 2013, Swift made regular appearances on the “Most Hated Celebrities” lists and was consistently one of the worst-performing magazine cover stars. While her fan base was strong, it wasn’t enough to erase the strong associations Swift had with being a serial dater, an immature girl who was crazy and desperate for a boyfriend. While these labels were making headlines, nobody wanted to read about her nor click on online articles related to her besides the Swifties (as her loyal fans like to call themselves) – her appearance on Cosmopolitan’s Christmas cover was the worst-selling issue that year. It was evident she had to reverse opinion (especially of women) and, for the most part, she surely did. 

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Phase 1– Late in 2014, after disappearing from the spotlight for six months, Taylor wrote “Blank Space”; a song that basically made fun of her media portrayal of a ‘maneater’ and that was designed for her to take ownership of the joke. She remained single while writing her album 1989, focused on writing about herself and staying out of the boy-talk in the tabloids. Then, with her single “Shake It Off”, a song you could not miss, even if you lived under a rock, she sang about ignoring the haters and being yourself. In the video of the same song, she showcases some terrible dance moves to different song genres, and slowly Taylor managed to go from a desperate girl to a lovingly awkward one.

 

Phase 2Upon assessment of what may be hindering the sales or positive image of your company, brand, or product, it is necessary to make an 180-degree change. At the beginning, Taylor Swift constantly portrayed herself as the innocent girl who got bullied and got her boyfriends stolen by other “cooler” girls. She probably detected that pinning other girls affected her image and she decided to change her strategy. Not only has she been more vocal and supportive of feminist comments, she also recruited the coolest girls in town, and created what we all know now as her #squad. Now, her photos are all about her adventures within her “cool” and powerful group of friends including (models) Karlie Kloss, Gigi Hadid, Cara Delevingne, and Kendall Jenner and (musicians) Selena Gomez, Ellie Goulding, Lorde, among others.

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Taylor Swift teaches us that no matter how good and loved you are in your field and/or by your loyal customers, you also have to reach for new ones. The best way of doing that is assessing your company, brand or product and identifying areas in which a change is needed in order to obtain a better image. If it goes anything like it did for Swift, these changes and sacrifices are definitely for the better.

 

Written by Laura Garcia

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