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Lessons in Branding from Lady Gaga

March 8, 2017 4 comments

LadyGagaWas it just me, or were the Super Bowl commercials as a whole this year disappointing? Now let’s not mistake my personal point of view (POV); I’m a Super Bowl viewer for the football and the food. That being said, I’m always interested in watching the commercials because this is where the best of the best marketing campaigns are supposed to be launched, right? Apple, Doritos, Budweiser, e*Trade and others have made splashes with their highly expensive time slots on national television. My response to this year’s crop was a resounding….”meh.”

The vast majority of the commercials focused on something other than their brand. In some cases, you were left to wonder what the product or service was. Marketing execs seemed to go out of their way to make social statements rather than stating their own POV to their target audience.

If I were selling beer, I’d focus the viewers attention on people drinking beer and having fun. If I were selling cars, perhaps a wise strategy is focusing on creating a desire for said make and model of transportation. Bottom line, politics impacted thinking around branding this year. The problem is people watch the Super Bowl to be entertained both by the game and the commercials.

Alternatively, Lady Gaga left no doubt about her brand. Her performance for the halftime show was brilliant because it showed off her main talents – singing and entertaining. There were no overt statements made; the focus was on her music and style. She sang her most popular songs to expand the net of those who only occasionally here her music. I admit I don’t know all her work, however what she sang at halftime, I did.

She added surprise to her routine by starting the show on the roof and then repelled down to the stage. She concluded by jumping off the stage while catching a ball and disappearing to raucous applause. No one watching was left uncertain of her POV or brand.

So what’s this mean for you as a business owner?

It’s very easy to become confusing to your target market, if you’re not careful. If a beer manufacturer can lose it’s POV of what it does with a scattered marketing message, then the same can happen to you. Your marketing focus should be more Lady Gaga than Budweiser. Here’s how…

Be clear about your market. Ideally, who will purchase your products or services?  Are you B2B or B2C? This is important because B2Bs write a company check based on a budget; B2Cs must be influenced to part with a portion of their paycheck. You’ve got to start with this because your marketing will be focused on this buyer.

Be clear about your image. Lady Gaga’s wardrobe and stage was consistent with her brand. What’s your image say about you? Image is portrayed in style (old school vs. contemporary); language (bold vs. tempered); platform marketing (Social media vs. word of mouth); or any number of other characteristics based on your industry. The key question is – are you consistent?

Create curiosity and engagement. There was a lot of pre-halftime buzz about what Lady Gaga would do based on her penchant for being unpredictable (which is in itself consistent).  No matter what you’re marketing, there has to be some allure, some area of curiosity, and some engagement where your customer interacts with you. She had a live audience; what do you have?

Be you. Don’t try to copy others; be yourself. Be clear about your value and how you’re the company (or individual) best suited to improve the condition of your ideal customer.

Be bold. If Lady Gaga is one thing, she’s bold and a risk-taker. However, she has a plan. It’s all done for the benefit of her customer, the audience (whether in person or watching on TV).  If your marketing message is boring or white noise, it gets tossed in the virtual trash can, never to be retrieved. You might think you are bold, but how do you know your target customer thinks so? What kind of analytics do you run? What type of metrics do you use? Have you ever even asked?

Leave them wanting more. Lady Gaga left the stage with pizzazz and her followers can’t wait for the next performance. Does your marketing strategy motivate people to contact you or do they even care? You must be innovative around the idea of getting people to take action. That action is engaging in some way with you.

And she told two friends. And so on, and so on…. If you’re my age, you remember that shampoo commercial exhorting the power of name brand and referrals. The Lady Gaga brand is best spread through social media. Not only did she “trend” on social media platforms for days afterwards, it actually converted into big revenue. According to USA Today, her sales spiked by 1,000%!

Nielsen Music reports she sold 125,000 song downloads. That’s up roughly 960% compared to the day before the game. She sold over 23,000 albums on Sunday, representing a 2,000% increase.

Wouldn’t you take those kinds of returns? Bottom line is this – if you want to avoid having a Bad Romance with your business, increase your revenue, be wildly successful, and have more fun doing it, be more like Lady Gaga. Be clear on your value and messaging, and then pack the house!

Dan Weedin is a strategist, speaker, author and executive coach. He helps small business and middle market business leaders and entrepreneurs to grow more profitably and create a better life.  He was inducted into the Million Dollar Consultant™ Hall of Fame in 2012. You can reach Dan at 360-697-1058; e-mail at dan@danweedin.com or visit his web site at http://www.DanWeedin.com.