A strong brand differentiates a company from the crowd. When you’re building or maintaining a brand, who should you look to for advice? Take a few cues from Beyoncé.
Yes, Beyoncé. Adopting tactics Madonna established, Queen B has masterfully tweaked her image over time to shape and reflect the direction of her career. And she’s taken a bold path: her public image is about Beyoncé the Superstar, not Beyoncé the relatable Girl-Next-Door. That takes serious gumption.
You don’t become a superstar overnight; establishing the bedrock of a brand takes time. Remember when Beyoncé was one of the three members of Destiny’s Child? You know, “Bootylicious” and all that (admit it, you still have the tape somewhere). You could argue that she was the group’s most prominent member, but she did share the limelight with Kelly and Michelle. Nonetheless those outfits, performances, and music videos laid the foundation for her successful solo brand.
Today the Beyoncé brand is so strong that she can drop an album unannounced (with her husband, that guy Jay-Z), on a Sunday in June, while already on tour in Europe.
Did it break the internet? Of course it did.
Why else would music streaming service Tidal suddenly start trending on Twitter?
So how do you build a brand as strong as Beyoncé? Focus on three areas:
Like slogans and logos, Beyoncé's music and presentation evolves, but you can always count on her brand to represent fierceness, confidence, and queenliness.
Have you ever seen a photo of Bey looking hungover with streaky eyeliner à la Lindsay Lohan? Of course not. From Super Bowl performances to the Met Gala, Beyoncé is always on point, and that consistency is designed to reinforce her brand values.
Apply that consistency to your brand. Beyoncé would never send out an off-brand social post using bad design, and neither should you. Every customer touchpoint you produce for your brand should reflect the same meticulous control that Beyoncé enforces over her persona.
When you need to make a change to your brand, think long and hard–and then stick to the plan. Airbnb’s current logo, unveiled in 2014, initially received lots of criticism.
Did they cave and go back to the old logo? No.
They consistently and clearly explained how it represented Airbnb’s core beliefs, and stood by it. That consistency in messaging led to acceptance–and now the old logo looks, well, old:
Beyoncé’s Instagram account is the perfect example of how tightly she controls her brand. (And she’s not the only one. Drake has an Image Director.) She usually skips captions, letting the images speak for themselves, balancing information with interpretation.
Of course brand control takes more than well-managed social media. How did Beyoncé and Jay-Z manage to release Everything Is Love without any warning? Experience helps; Beyoncé has pulled off this feat once before.
But in an era of leaked Game of Thrones finales and zillion-profile data breaches, it’s amazing when information actually stays classified. It speaks to the trust and loyalty of the Carters’ inner circle. People are drinking, and protecting, the Carter Kool-Aid.
Is your team similarly protective of your brand? Is your PR creative with how you launch products? You can establish brand standards and guidelines, but if not adopted and accepted internally, they’re useless. Have you cultivated trusted relationships with the journalists that cover your industry?
Beyoncé tightly controls her brand, but she’s controlling something that feels genuine to fans. A brand built on empty values is infinitely harder control.
We can all agree on one thing: there is no one else like Beyoncé.
Can you make the same statement about your brand, and say it with the same confidence?
This is where the power of differentiation can not be understated.
Sure, lots of female celebrities make headlines when they announce a pregnancy. But not all reference religious iconography when they do it...
...and keep the reference going through the birth announcement (see above re: consistency).
You’ll never see Beyoncé post a photo of herself in jeans and a t-shirt. That would be too pedestrian. (And if she does, she has a carefully considered reason for it.) After all, this is an intense onstage performer who rocks multiple changes of sequined bodysuits and heels in a single show.
The costumes and Instagram allegories are what Beyoncé fans love. She knows how to give them what they want when they’re most hungry for something new. Her loyal fans don’t just buy concert tickets—they’re the reason the internet self-combusts when a new album drops or Beyoncé steps onto the Met Gala’s red carpet.
Today, smart brands know that they need customer-fans. It’s not enough to have people buy your widget. They need to get your product, love it, tweet about it, follow you on Instagram, tell their friends about it at brunch, and come back to buy more.
Are you inspiring that kind of customer devotion? Look at what makes your brand unique. Is the answer reflected in your social media, your interactions with customers, your website design, your logo?
You don’t need to film your next commercial in the Louvre to stand out. Across a brand, multiple points of differentiation with customers add up.
Being Like Bey
Granted Beyoncé has a entire team dedicated to helping her execute her brand (newsflash: she’s worth $350M).
You might be a team of one.
Put yourself in Beyoncé’s shoes, circa early Destiny’s Child days, and start small.
You’re building the foundation of your brand bit by bit. It only takes one successful hit to kick off the momentum.
We’re no music label, but when it comes to execution, Lightboard is here to help. From websites to display ads to logos, we’ve got your back. Drop us a line to find out more (including your favorite Beyoncé song is optional).