By Ellie Kuhen
It feels like everyone in the world is talking about Taylor Swift right now. From ‘Swifties’ to NFL fans, people are enchanted (get it?), and her influence is impossible to ignore. In the past year, Swift has released a new album, performed 53 shows culminating her 17-year music career, released a movie with presales outselling Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame film, and more.
Swift’s impact is undeniable, with over 200 songs atop the Billboard charts, 12 Grammy Awards, and almost $5 billion generated for the U.S. economy through her 2023 tour to date. Her achievements are no accident; Swift has made incredibly smart marketing and branding moves to earn her one of the largest and most loyal fan bases in music. Fan or not, every brand can learn from her team’s effective and strong marketing strategies.
Ready For It? Here are four marketing and branding takeaways from Taylor Swift:
1. Go All In On Storytelling
Storytelling is an important part of building a brand. That’s why communicators and marketers spend so much time looking for new ways to tell stories about companies, products, and people. Through her songwriting, Swift brings fans into her world, shares her feelings and thoughts, and connects with them by demonstrating vulnerability and authenticity.
Swift also takes storytelling beyond her craft. Through her social media, interviews, fan interactions, and performances, she follows the same narrative about herself: who she is, what she loves, and why she makes certain decisions. She is known for giving speeches that make fans cry and social media posts that break the internet.
Swift is a testimony to how important storytelling is; Taylor’s story is her entire brand. Brands can learn from this by being aware and intentional about the story and messaging communicated to its audience. Brands need to align its value proposition and be as cohesive as possible. Whether it is through the company’s website, social media channels, or earned media, brands should strive to have a consistent and compelling story that consumers can follow and connect with. Developing a uniform brand voice helps to master this when interacting with a brand’s audience through multiple mediums.
2. Embrace Your Target Audience
Let’s Speak Now of another area Taylor Swift has perfected: identifying her target audience. Spanning almost a 20-year career, Taylor Swift has had Lovers and haters. Swift has had periods of media criticism, inspiring the release of her acclaimed Reputation album in response. She has doubled down on focusing on appealing to her loyal base and attracted more fans as a result.
She continues to build her fanbase, and it has paid off immensely. During her Eras Tour, concert goers showed support by making friendship bracelets, planning the perfect costume for her concert, listening to her music on repeat, and singing along to every song, story, and performance led by Swift. As sold-out stadiums across the country prove, there are a lot of people who have become new fans of her music, a direct result of her compelling brand marketing.
Swift is known to interact with fans, despite being one of the biggest celebrities in the world. The most recent example of this played out at the world premiere of The Eras Tour Concert movie where celebrities and fans were invited to the first screenings of the movie. Swift went to each theater and made a personal speech, explaining that fans were hand-selected to attend and played a main role in the movie, making the experience one of the best in her life. The opening weekend of the movie brought in $92.8 million.
Swift is a case study of the positive results of capturing your brand’s target audience. It’s important to implement strategies that make your audience care about your message. Embracing your target audience means considering what your audience wants and cares about. The benefits of this will shine through with increased brand loyalty and differentiation amongst competitors.
3. Be Authentic
Although Taylor Swift’s marketing is not a one-woman operation, she has been praised for her approach in refraining from being formulated or inauthentic.
As the Eras Tour spotlights, Swift has had a variety of ‘eras’ that her songwriting, personality, and life have experienced. She started her career as a budding country artist, singing about high school love, and has now evolved through different music genres and styles. Throughout her discography, Swift has shown different sides of herself, while staying true to her authentic self.
Audiences know when something feels off or inauthentic in brand marketing. Defining your brand with clear messaging and a consistent strategy establishes expectations from consumers and builds trust and credibility. Branding is an ongoing process that must be maintained for the best results. Being authentic for large brands means making strategic moves that align with the core identity and persona your audience has connected with.
4. Make Announcements In a Memorable And Meaningful Way
Taylor Swift could teach a Master Class on building anticipation. For years, Swift has been using subtle ‘Easter Egg’ clues across different communications for fans to dissect. From secret messages to placing clues in music videos, and even hiding the smallest of details in social media posts, Swift’s fans have become trained to look for hidden messages to decode.
Swift interacting with her fans in these ways builds anticipation and keeps followers on their toes as fans never know what to expect. It also means user-generated content around Swift is pumped out in masses as fans discuss what her Instagram caption is really saying or what the color she is wearing really means. Her tactics prove building anticipation can be just as important as the announcement itself.
While most brands don’t have swarms of people deeply dissecting the meaning of every post, brands can build anticipation for announcements to make the most out of launches or company milestones. Releasing a press release is a great first step in making an important announcement, but complementing the release with social media posts, media outreach, and other experiential marketing strategies amplify the excitement and reach. Within these communications, don’t just tell, but show your audience why the announcement is important and why they should care.
Even if you’re not a fan, it is hard to deny the Mastermind that is Taylor Swift. Regardless of her evident talent, Swift’s marketing moves, and brand dominance has made her stand out in an industry with a lot of noise (literally).