Posted by: brandextenders | June 6, 2011

Lady Gaga as a Brand

Let’s face it, people either love Lady Gaga or they can’t stand her. I’m probably somewhere in the middle however lately I’ve been struck by what this 25 year-old has accomplished when it comes to branding.

What makes a good brand? There are as many opinions about this as there are grains of sand on the beach, but a few points always rise to the top. A brand is consistent in what it produces and in its messaging, it makes you feel good in some way, promotes loyalty, makes you want to purchase its products/services by creating an emotional link, listens to feedback and changes with the times.

So how does Gaga stand up as a brand? Let’s look at a few areas where all brands live on a daily basis:

  • Emotional Link: If there’s one thing you can say about Gaga, she creates an emotional link and it tends to either be die-hard loyalty or complete revulsion. There’s not much in between. At this point loyalty is far ahead of revulsion as she storms the world with concerts, music videos, guest appearances and a new CD released late last month. “Born This Way” debuted atop Billboard’s Top 200, sold over 1 million copies in its first week and tops the charts in 10 other countries. Her concerts sell out (210 of them around the world on her current “Monster Ball Tour”) and are said to have grossed over $150 million so far. Do you think she’s created an emotional link with her brand?
  • Engaging with Customers/Fans: Lady Gaga has over 37 million Facebook fans,  almost 11 million Twitter followers and most of her videos on YouTube have 50 million plus hits. She engages with fans on social media and has even fondly named them her “little monsters.” She regularly thanks her fans for their support and keeps them up-to-date on upcoming appearances, events and concerts. She knows how to keep her little monsters coming back for more as a recent tweet from a fan shows, I love you so much Gaga, you make me so free!! Thank you so much, I’ll love you forever.”
  • Controversy: That’s her middle name, or it should be. From her outrageous outfits to her suggestive song lyrics and music videos Gaga keeps people talking, good and bad. She arrived at the Grammy awards inside an egg-shaped pod this year (she’s won five already in her short career), she offended mental health professionals by referring to her critics as retarded and inflames Catholics and Christians alike with songs like “Judas” and dressing like a nun (she grew up Roman Catholic). Controversy can be good for a brand, but too much can also ruin it so it will be interesting to see if she can tread that fine line.
  • Philanthropy: The best brands give back and this is an area where Gaga puts her money where her mouth is. She donated over $500,000 to rebuilding efforts in Haiti after the devastating earthquakes last year, has been selling a bracelet she designed to support Japan after their tragedy ($250,000 donated so far), she supports HIV/AIDS education and awareness and several other organizations about which she is passionate. Brands that only take eventually go away and Gaga has shown herself so far to be a brand that is willing to give back.
  • Continual Improvement: Gaga began playing piano at age four and had written a ballet by the age of 13. She has an amazing voice, writes much of her own music and creates many of the outrageous costumes she wears. The bottom line is that despite all else, she is talented and continually working to improve herself, which is her brand. I can’t imagine her doing the things she does now in 30 years so a big part of her continued success will be whether she can morph and evolve with the times and with her age. Good brands do just that if they want to be around in 30 years or more.

Whether you love her or hate her, she has created something amazing in a very short amount of time. Can your brand, personal or otherwise, say the same thing?

A quote from Gaga sums it all up that brands both big and small would be wise to heed, “You have to be unique, and different, and shine in your own way.” So little monsters, how does your brand stack up?

I work with my customers to evaluate their promotional marketing needs and develop creative and measurable solutions based on those needs. I build long-term relationships to become a trusted advisor my clients turn to for their brand extension, promotional product, incentive and other branding needs. Contact me at stephen.woodburn@staplespromoproducts.com  

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