5 Strategies Your Brand Can Borrow From Taylor and Kanye
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5 Strategies Your Brand Can Borrow From Taylor and Kanye

March 24, 2016

Lori Latusek

Taylor Swift and Kanye West have had their differences, but both musicians can attribute a substantial portion of their success to overall media prowess. Read on for 5 lessons your brand can learn from their rise to the top.

Taylor Swift and Kanye West have had their differences, but they do have one very important thing in common: both are media geniuses, albeit in drastically different ways. Despite taking opposite approaches when crafting their respective brands, both musicians can attribute a substantial portion of their success to overall media prowess. Brands can learn a lot from Taylor and Kanye’s diverse paths to becoming household names (no feuding necessary).

When she was just a teenager, Taylor Swift became America’s Sweetheart by turning her own heartbreak into catchy, relatable tunes. But as she integrated into the A List set, a string of failed high profile romances tainted her personal brand. Ever the media savvy musician, Taylor took action to control the narrative. After years of back-to-back relationships, Swift took a break from dating (at least publicly) and switched up her messaging to focus on her friendships. The pivot paid off: Taylor has been dating yet another famous musician for over a year now, but this time her relationship stands in the shadows of a constant spotlight on Taylor’s infamous Girl Squad. Meanwhile, the singer made a smooth transition from country to pop and created yet another award-winning album, 1989. Lesson: Your brand can always be reinvented. Consider subtle ways to transfer focus to something more admirable for your audience.

Taylor was in the middle of a renewed feud with Kayne when she won a Grammy for Best Album in February. But instead of calling him out directly, she used her acceptance speech as an opportunity to craft a positive message, encouraging fans to take a stand for themselves by not letting others take credit for their hard work or cause them to lose focus on their dreams. Lesson: Brands don’t have the luxury of taking sides or criticizing. Find ways to turn a negative situation into a positive without throwing competitors under the bus. The high road is the right road.

Taylor is the poster child for approachable messaging when it comes to social media. She shares pictures of her cats, videos of her friends, and even asks fans to her home for album listening parties. Because she consciously crafts a valuable dialog with her audience, they really listen and engage when she promotes her accomplishments and makes announcements. Lesson: Get your brand in the weeds with consumers in order to have an authentic connection. Speak in a language that suits your audience and deliver value– they’ll return the favor in spades.

Standing starkly at the other side of the Media Genius Spectrum is Mr. “Yeezus” West, whose media strategy relies more on explosive shock factor than persistent reliability. While one could argue that he should think before he speaks, Kanye’s Twitter and in-person rants come across as in-the-moment, raw, authentic, and truly his–not something that’s been processed through a PR team. While erratic, there’s no question that Kanye’s voice keeps the public captivated. Lesson: Speak with a voice that’s honest and heart-felt. Consumers don’t want pre-packaged messaging.

Kanye tends to increase his social media presence at exactly the right moments to grab attention. Just last month, he announced via Twitter that he is $53 million in debt three days before the Grammys (an award ceremony he boycotted because The Life of Pablo was not nominated as album of the year). At the same time, he re-ignited his feud with Taylor, which secured his spot in Grammy’s-related headlines despite his absence at the event itself. Lesson: Pay special attention to the timing of your announcements; be sensitive to world or local events, but focus can be put on your brand if executed at the right time.

Taylor and Kanye have both had missteps and PR blunders, but there’s no mistaking that each respective artist has masterfully utilized music and social media to connect with their fans. Their messages are heard loud and clear by the masses, and they’ve maintained authenticity – two crucial communications goals that any brand can benefit from. Keep their media successes in mind during your next brand identity discussion, and you might captivate those same audiences, too.

Lori Latusek

Associate Director, Communications & Media Practice

As Associate Director of Kelton’s Communications & Media Practice, Lori is in charge of working with the world’s largest PR and communications agencies and their clients to create compelling...

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