In 2012, John Friedman wrote an article for The Huffington Post about how businesses can't control their brand. He, among other entrepreneurs such as Jeffery Hayzlett, have said that your brand isn't in your hands, but in your customers hands.
These guys apparently never met Taylor Swift.
Throughout her career, Swift has made some major strides to show that she's more than just another pretty pop-star. She's proven herself as an incredible business woman and a genius brand manager. And despite what the men above might say, she unapologetically controls her brand like a boss, and it works.
The secret to Swift's brand domination is simple: She knows exactly what her brand is, what it says, and she's extremely thorough in protecting it. She takes into account every tiny, conceivable detail, and she acts.
Some actions are minor, like the fact that she never shows her bellybutton. Others are much more deliberate, like trademarking particular lyrics or shutting down Etsy users that sell knock-off T-Swift gear.
Then there are the moves that are just brilliant. Earlier this year, a new list of top level domains were released, some of which were adult themed. Swift immediately registered her name under the .porn and .adult TLDs, killing any possibility of a Swift smut site before it could happen.
Swift keeps a sharp eye out. She's always thinking about her brand. From what she wears to how she handles her intellectual property, every action is a strategic, calculated move.
Some of it might sound cold. And it is. Her approach is cut-throat. However, she minimizes potential damage by putting just as much effort into pleasing her "Swifties" as she does protecting her brand. Example: she's always doing cool stuff like this, which allows her to ruthlessly protect her image with virtually zero negative consequences.
So What Can You Learn from T-Swift?
So to recap, here's how you can take the Swift method and apply it to your own business.
1. Know your brand.
You need to have a clear, concrete idea of your company's identity. Who you are you? Why do you exist? What is your message?
2. Have an extremely detailed plan of action.
Swift trademarked lyrics because she doesn't want her product being used for anything that doesn't mesh with her image. Think of every way your brand can be represented or misrepresented and get ahold of it before someone else can. Present to your audience a pre-determined brand with limited and controlled interaction
3. Go hard on customer service.
Just because you're setting parameters on interaction doesn't mean the interaction itself has to suffer. Provide your audience with the greatest experience of their lives.
Check out the interview below of Taylor Swift and see for yourself how her brand management has played a role in her domination of the music industry. Also, if you have any thoughts on Swift's method of brand control, leave a comment and tell me about it.