Branding has the power to turn the most disliked celebrities into some of the most popular ones on the planet. If you’ve read my e-book Brand & Style, you will know that a re-brand isn’t always in your best interest. In fact, there are many time when a re-brand is not a good idea.
For Taylor Swift, however, her several re-brands throughout her career have been crucial to her success and popularity. Even if you don’t follow Taylor Swift there are a few things you will likely already know:
- She used to be a country singer
- She is now a pop singer
By knowing only those two things, you already know that she has undergone at least one major brand transformation. To switch genres of music is not an easy task but Taylor Swift has successfully done just that – among many other brand transformations.
Personally, The T-Swift brand has grown on me over the years and I’ve found myself liking her more and more, which got me thinking: “how/when did this happen?!”
As I got to thinking, I realized that Taylor Swift is the master or re-branding, and she can teach us all a thing or two about how you can use a re-brand to revitalize your business.
Taylor Swift’s re-brands are much more drastic than any artist I can think of in recent times, but her evolving brand showcases how you are able to alter how the public perceives your business through strategic branding, and why a re-brand is necessary when public perception of your brand or business becomes negative.
Swift and her indispensable team of PR and marketing pros have absolutely nailed each and every Swift re-brand, and today I am going to show you how changing up her image has increased her popularity.
Pre 1989 Album
Prior to Swift’s 1989 album, the media, the public and other celebrities had deemed the pop star as a maneater and serial dater, exposing her exes in order to capitalize on their broken relationships for record sales.
While her first album wasn’t necessarily the highest selling album, her reputation during those early years hadn’t been tarnished quite yet.
By 2012, Swift had some of the lowest page views for the articles written about her and the magazines she was featured on. In other words, nobody cared to read about her. Swift’s was labelled as disingenuous and a try hard (think of her dancing at award shows).
It was clear that if she wanted to change the public’s perception of her, she was going to need to undergo a severe re-brand, which is exactly what she did.
By the end of 2013, she was voted one of Stars “Most Hated Celebrities” and needed to rethink her image to save her career.
After spending some time out of both the public eye and gossip columns, Swift reappeared and introduced us to a new woman with a new album.
This new album, 1989, was meant to show the world that Swift was a woman who everyone should want their daughters to look up to, grow up like and have friends like.
Swift used 1989 to make fun of herself and her love life (Blank Space), showcase herself as a strong and independent woman with a killer squad of equally as strong women (Bad Blood), and let everyone know that she was well aware of what her critics were saying, but she also wasn’t going to let it bother her (Shake It Off).
During this time, her reputation started to recover. People started to fall in love with Taylor Swift as they realized she was more similar to them than they originally realized.
To promote her new album, she invited some of her biggest fans to her house for a personal listening party which further positioned her as “one of the girls”, and helped her fans to develop a deep emotional connection to her.
During this time, Swift’s brand was on point as she grew and became one of the most followed celebrities on Instagram.
Post 1989 Album
After the buzz for 1989 wore off, Taylor Swift wasn’t able to uphold her new brand image because of a couple key events that caused the public’s view on her to change:
- her relationship with Calvin Harris ended
- her fued with Katy Perry hadn’t ended
- her incident with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West
- her relationship with Tom Hiddleston (which was widely criticized)
When her long-term relationship with Calvin Harris ended and she started dating Tom Hiddleston, she gained back her reputation of a serial dater instantly.
The long fued with Katy Perry also didn’t help her try and appear like someone who supports the success of other women, and her fued with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West made her once again hard to trust, and she came across as disingenuous.
Whether or not all of this is right, it doesn’t not matter. The overwhelming perception of Swift was that she was conniving, constantly playing the victim and fake.
Another re-brand was desperately needed.
Taylor Swift’s newest album (set to be released in November 2017), Reputation, is they key to her next re-brand. She has stayed relatively silent on social media over the last year, only to delete everything prior to announcing her newest single.
Reputation is Taylor Swift’s only chance at getting her brand image right in the eye of the public right now. Could you imagine the hit her career would take if she released another album that was full of songs complaining about broken relationships and being back-stabbed by other A-listers around her?
Herself and her team knows full well that another re-brand is necessary to make sure she still appeals to the public eye. During this season, we can expect Taylor to own up to everything that has happened (because that is what the public wants), take the blame, but this time, instead of trying to play the nice girl, (which has backfired for her in the past) she need to take on this new edgy type of attitude.
The re-brands for Taylor Swift over the years have been necessary for her to shift the public’s perception of her and maintain her pop-star status.
The most remarkable point about branding is how you are able to influence the perception around you if done correctly.
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