Brand Management Lessons From Taylor Swift

April 30th, 2015 by

Taylor Swift is not just a music sensation – she’s also a shrewd caretaker of her own brand. We’ve rounded up some tips for how companies can take a leaf out of Taylor’s book.

Love or hate her, Taylor Swift is one clued-up lady when it comes to protecting her brand. From her daily musings on Instagram to copyright protection actions taken by her managers and lawyers, T-Swizz runs a tight ship. Team Swift has already bought, meaning the threat of that domain being used against her has been neutralised. Earlier this year, Swift went on something of a trademark rampage, copyrighting several key phrases from her songs, and even demanding that sellers on crafting site Etsy remove items related to her trademarks.

But looking beyond crochet wall hangings with the phrase ‘this sick beat’ on them, there are lots of interesting things for businesses to learn from the world of Taylor Swift. Here are a few things the pop sensation can teach us about brand management:

If you have a premium brand, charge premium rates

Swift’s decision to pull all her music from Spotify wasn’t popular with fans, but Swift stuck to her guns. “[People] can still listen to my music if they get it on iTunes,” Swift told ‘Time Magazine’. “I’m always up for trying something. And I tried it and I didn’t like the way it felt. I think there should be an inherent value placed on art.”. As the artist behind the top-selling album of 2014, Swift is in a much stronger position than most to take this stand, but as a premium brand she can do what she wants.

Make your superfans feel special

Swift is active on Tumblr, frequently interacting with her fans and re-blogging their posts dedicated to her and her music. The fans will go to great lengths to catch Swift’s attention, dressing up like her or writing swoony posts about how much they love her. The Tumblr interaction could have been a simple PR strategy by Swift, but a recent post suggests otherwise; Swift chose to tell her fans about her mother’s cancer diagnosis on Tumblr. “Thank you for caring about my family so much that [my mother] would want me to share this information with you” said Swift.

If you don’t like what they’re saying, change the conversation

Taking a line from Mad Men’s Peggy Olsen there, Swift’s certainly changed the conversation about her social life this past year. Instagram has been chock full of Swift hanging out with women; she’s posted photos of herself with sister music trio Haim, models Karlie Kloss and Gigi Hadid, actor Jaime King, and singer Lorde, to name some. This follows on from the numerous stories the year before about Swift’s boyfriends, which she has quashed seemingly using just girl power. Now, blogs and magazines are full of photos of Taylor and her friends hanging out in her New York house baking cookies.

Turn weaknesses into strengths by poking fun at yourself

Rumour had it that Swift had insured her legs for $40m, a somewhat ridiculous claim but also not entirely outside the realm of possibility. But instead of refuting the rumour, Swift found a better way to quiet those poking fun at the claim. When her cat scratched up her leg, she posted a photo of the damage with a caption in all capital letter: “Great work Meredith – I was just trying to love you and now you owe me 40 million dollars!”.

And by all means, shows some personality!

One of the reasons Swift is so popular is because she’s adorably dorky and she’s not afraid to show it. First of all, her cats are called Meredith Grey and Olivia Benson after the lead characters on, respectively, medical drama ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and crime procedural ‘CSI: Special Victims Unit’. And then, after the scratch by the feline Dr Grey had been tended to, Swift posted the photo of her patch which had been adorned with the word “meOW”. And then she wrote: “Couldn’t help but make it into a pun, could I …”

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