August 11, 2011

The New Titans of Branding

To read this post, I am going to ask you to do two things to start (courtesy of the brilliant and wonderful Derek Sivers).  Please watch these two videos…you needn’t watch more than maybe 30 seconds of each:

That is: Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, a singer songwriter, shows about 200,000 views at writing.  (I did really like the song, and it’s nice to know she doesn’t need autotune)

That is Lady Gaga – checking in with 400 million plus views.  I am going to argue it is not her sheer talent that does it.  Surely, she was talented in the first video.  Marvelously talented, actually.  She instead changed the game.  She went from talented to Titan.  She’s not just an artist.  She’s not just an individual. She is a brand superstar.

The standard from branding anything changed with the advent of social media.  The amplification of “brand ambassadors” in the web world allows a well-run socially, oriented brand to be bigger than its budget, better liked than its competitors and more unique in its appeal.  If you assume an amplification of 5x for every friend a person mentions a brand to, then there’s a way to see impressions.  However, still, it’s more than that.   She has a certain “je ne sais quoi” – that intangible quality that engenders engagement and fierce loyalty.  She reminds us that

1.  Originality – even massive originality – is a good thing.  Scary, but in a good way

2.  You can be out there and authentic (doubt that – check out her recent interview on the View – yes, the Barbara Walters daytime tv progam – I kid you not)

3.  You can still be insecure and unsure but you have to follow your path.  Go. Do. Try.  Be.

She’s also done all of this very publicly.  She redefined the brand standard.  She is using social media to be that brand every day.

To wit:

  • 41+mm fans on Facebook
  • 12mm Twitter fans follow “Mother Monster” (and likely the affiliated accounts) and she is included in nearly 200,00 twitter follow lists
  • Farmville went Gaga as well, with Gagaville to unlock exclusive content (Zynga on my list of 2010 customer focused companies)
  • A self-Curated sale on (see prior posts about Gilt here:  Kevin Ryan, Gilt -v- Groupon).  This included a dress that sold for $20,000 donated to the Robin Hood Foundation in NYC.
  • Another charitable curated sale on EtsyLady Gaga on Etsy – for VH1 Ave the Music
  • A Lady Gaga wiki – managed by fans
  • Google Chrome did a Lady Gaga video/promo/something??? released on May 20th – it had over 1.5mm views in 2 weeks.  It’s a promo.  It features Edge of Glory, her new song.  It ends with “the web is what you make it.” Google, who recognizes no one, goes Gaga.  There’s privilege in being Mother Monster.  The only missing is the blasted link to buy it, which I would.
  • In addition to a Gaga-named lipgloss, an effort with MAC Cosmetics to create a socially produced piece of art/clothing (it’s all munged together with her, I think).  Think it’s silly?  There are nearly 400,000 pictures submitted  to create said piece of art/clothing.   It is informed by a lipcolor infographic.  What’s more, they are able to build the database for MAC.  Surely a good portion of those participants will elect to receive MAC details, or continue reinforcing their brand positioning.  For those who don’t know, MAC has lots of traditional colors and tools, but their stock and trade is being outre.
Whether for profit and for charity ($500k for Haiti, Time and presence to MAC Viva Glam for AIDS research, Bracelets and Music contributions for Japan Tsunami relief, the list goes on), the woman is EVERYWHERE.  What’s more, it seems like she inspires creativity and trying new things:  TechCrunch wrote about Stipple – a technology that allows you to tag a person in photo and then add eCommerce details atop.  Nicolas Formichetti used YouTube to describe his Gilt event.  He’s also a Tumblr fan
Derek concluded with the following: It takes someone like Lady Gaga with absolute maniacal persistence and a burning desire…So I think what she’s doing now is just a continuation of what she already so successfully started.
It’s almost a reverse Tiger Woods.  She’s engineered a brand so out there already that she doesn’t have to worry about it…but she does.  Daily.
When was the last time you had a burning desire about your brand?  When was the last time – in Derek’s words, you said Hell Yeah!  What would you do to make it so?  Now go run at it.  And don’t be afraid to be over the top (meat dress optional)


To see more of Cristene’s thoughts about Branding, Marketing, and other general musings, you can read them on her blog Muse and Maven.

Related Posts

January 17, 2012

Embrace Danger