It Was All By Design - The Power of Marketing Mastermind Taylor Swift
At Hydrogen, it’s no secret that you’ll find a team of self confessed Swifties, but it’s not just Taylor Swift’s music that earns our admiration - she has also created a powerhouse personal brand. So, why do so many music megastars fade, yet she’s still here? Let’s dive into the marketing lessons we can learn from the global superstar.
Brand Consistency Never Goes Out of Style
This might sound like a strange place to start. Taylor Swift has just ended the US leg of her record-breaking Eras Tour, where she moves through 10 distinct eras of her music. But, hear us out…
Whilst the singer has mastered reinvention, and made the move from country cutie to global pop sensation, her storytelling remains at the crux of her success. Using the vulnerability of her song lyrics, she creates a persona people can relate to and continues to hold the hearts of her ever-growing fanbase. Whether it’s the devastating bridge they know to expect from her infamous track fives, or the fun fluffy lyrics in her latest ‘glitter gel pen’ hit, Swifties have come to know and love the singer’s deep cut lyrics.
It’s important to maintain a consistent brand identity when it comes to tone of voice and brand values, but external and internal factors can shape the way you portray your brand to your target market. So, as long as you maintain your core brand ethos, don’t be afraid to shake off your reputation and enter your next era.
Take Burberry - a brand known for it’s iconic British heritage but that lost it’s sheen in the 90s as it became more and more associated with chav culture. To combat this, the brand chose to embrace a new style, introducing vibrant colours but maintaining the look and feel of classic items such as the iconic trench coat. By staying true to their core brand values and heritage, but adapting to suit a new era of fashion, they repositioned as one of the world’s most luxurious fashion powerhouses.
Taylor Swift 🤝Easter Eggs
It’s not easy being a Swiftie. Her marketing success is largely down to “Easter Eggs” - nuggets of information and clues she is forever winding into her social media posts, her lyrics, music videos, and even her outfits. It’s no easy task but the satisfaction of solving her lyrical puzzles gamifies the listening experience and creates a sense of community, as fans work to dissect each clue.
The release of Taylor Swift’s first re-recording Fearless (Taylor’s Version) came with a selection of never before released vault tracks and an Instagram video of a golden vault, which opens up to reveal a series of jumbled up words like EYB" INFE, GENAURIFT. Granted, this might seem like nonsense, but in true Taylor Swift style, there was a deeper hidden meaning and it wasn’t long before Swifties took to Twitter and TikTok to reveal they’d cracked the code.
Taylor Swift shows a unique ability to connect with her audience on a personal level, delivering a fresh experience with each album and era. She demonstrates the importance of keeping your audience engaged and wanting more by teasing product releases in fun ways.
Even Google lean into Easter Eggs. Why not try googling “askew”? You might find your screen is looking a little lopsided. These fun hidden features work to increase audience engagement and bring more personality to your brand. And fans of Taylor Swift may have seen Google’s Easter Eggs in action recently, as they partnered with the singer herself to reveal a series of puzzles to be solved to open the 1989 (Taylor’s Version) vault. To access the puzzle, users simply had to google “Taylor Swift” and the vault would appear (and guess who was the most commonly searched celebrity in the UK and the US on Google that day? We told you - Mastermind).
Her Use of Social Hits Different
Taylor embraced social media from the beginning. OG fans will remember her YouTube vlogs where, as early as 2008, she shared small glimpses into her day to day, from BTS launching the CMA music awards to her A Hug from Taylor Swift Challenge. She quickly recognised the power of meeting fans in the places they interact.
An early adopter of MySpace and Tumblr, she adapted to the ever changing world of social media, following in the footsteps of her core audience and embracing new platforms. Swiftie or not, there’s little doubt that The Eras Tour has infiltrated your social media feeds this summer - #TheErasTour has over 12.1B views on TikTok alone.
Aside from posting on the platforms herself, Taylor and her team successfully use social listening, affectionately known as “Taylurking”, to keep up with fan conversations and upcoming trends. A long-running joke amongst the Taylor Swift fandom is that she often forgets about her ninth studio album Evermore and so she took the opportunity to call out Swifties on stage where she proclaims it’s “an album I absolutely love despite what some of you say on TikTok”. This confirmation that Taylor listens and cares what her fans have to say has Swifties creating content left, right and centre in the hopes to be noticed by the global star. Taylor Swift has reached the enviable point of brand advocacy where she no longer needs to promote her own products - she has a loyal fanbase ready and waiting to do it for her.
Mastering the art of listening to your audience allows brands to understand the needs of their customer and react to what they want to see, rather than what you think they’d like to hear. Be present on the right platforms, reactive to audience needs and join in on conversations your audience care about.
It’s no accident that Spotify became a world leading brand in the music streaming world and this success is largely down to their customer-centric approach. They actively listen to customers and use data to improve recommendations, delivering a weekly playlist of recommendations based on your latest listens. Each year they also deliver the highly anticipated Spotify Wrapped. Last year alone, there was over 3.2M mentions of Spotify Wrapped and whilst Taylor Swift received a respectable 64,000 mentions, Spotify didn’t shy away from joining the conversation, responding to a huge number of users posting their results with playful comments, which contributed to the boost in conversation.
Cultivating Community & Rewarding Loyalty
One thing we’ve got in common with Taylor and her team? We don’t underestimate the power of community management. Social media is all about conversation, so it doesn’t pay to post and, shall we say, jump in a getaway car? Taylor has been responding to comments and interacting with fans since the early days of MySpace, but has reignited the flame with her active use of TikTok.
And it pays to be loyal. UK fans who pre-ordered Taylor’s tenth studio album Midnights were rewarded with exclusive pre-sale access to the upcoming dates of The Eras Tour, being able to get their hands on the coveted tickets a week ahead of general sale.
In the past, Taylor has even gone one step further and delivered Christmas gifts to hand selected fans in 2014 with Swiftmas, each one receiving a personalised present from the singer. You may have also heard of her exclusive ‘Secret Sessions’ hosted at her homes across the globe. Seeking out dedicated fans, Taylor and her team kept an eye on the social media presence of devote Swifties and invited them to an exclusive album preview at her home, cookies and cats included! This helps to create a sense of connection between Taylor Swift and her fanbase.
People want to feel your brand is listening to what they have to say, so try to respond to queries and be part of the conversation. Reward customer loyalty, whether it’s with custom content, giveaways, or discounts. A free coffee from Starbucks on your birthday might seem like a small act, but making an audience feel seen encourages users to post more about and think favourable of your brand.
So, what does it all mean?
Long story short, it pays to understand and react to your audience, whether it’s maintaining your core brand USP, tailoring your content to meet their needs or making their wildest dreams come true with effective community building. Whilst we can’t promise you tickets to The Eras Tour, we do know a thing or two about building strong brands on social, so why not get in touch for a chat?