Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world an interesting and distinctive brand. As it’s December, I wanted to select someone who truly shined; a strong, glimmering personal brand to bring 2018 to a close. And the winner is…
Of course our Queen Bey is immensely talented; ever since her beginnings with girl-group Destiny’s Child, Beyoncé’s music has been universally acclaimed. But her talent is just one dimension of what makes her brand so extraordinary.
A big part of Beyoncé allure comes from the balancing and melding of two personas within one brand. For one, there’s the hyper-sexualized “Pop Goddess” image she projects in the limelight, contrasted with the maternal figure portrayed with her family. She has become shiny example of a woman who can be both sexy and maternal.
But there’s another interesting phenomenon going on here.
Bey the Paradox
Beyoncé personifies effort and effortlessness simultaneously. VOX magazine called this phenomenon the “Bey Paradox”. Referencing her performance at Coachella 2018, the article makes note that Beyoncé never once let her audience forget how much work she was putting into her two hour performance, yet simultaneously created the illusion that that it all just flawlessly emerged with little effort.
This paradox, the hardest-working woman in the business and someone who achieves effortless, natural perfection, is a fascinating and powerful differentiating dimension to her brand, one that provides an element of surprise, mystery and magic. She is effort and effortlessness all at once.
Bey the Feminist
Beyoncé also brings a strong feminist and activist angle to her branding, albeit one presented in a glamourous pop-star package. She literally spelled this out for audiences in 2014 when performing in front of a screen emblazoned with ‘FEMINIST’ in giant wording during her Mrs Carter world tour and at the MTV VMAs.
While the media had lots to say about this, it started a dialog about feminism, which, as Beyoncé shared, was the purpose behind the messaging. “I put the definition of feminist in my song and on my tour, not for propaganda or to proclaim to the world that I’m a feminist, but to give clarity to the true meaning,” she explained to ELLE magazine. “I’m not really sure people know or understand what a feminist is, but it’s very simple. It’s someone who believes in equal rights for men and women.”
By embracing the issue of feminism, Beyoncé has created a strong brand association with it, one that helps to differentiates her brand from other pop celebs. There’s also little doubt what Beyoncé’s brand has done for black female identity in particular. Even President Obama has hailed her as the perfect role model for his daughters.
Bey the Business Woman
In a male-dominated corporate world, Beyoncé distinguishes herself as the founder and CEO of her own record label and production company, Parkwood Entertainment. An astute business woman, Beyoncé isn’t afraid to take risks and shake up the music industry. For example, there was her decision to release her innovative self-titled album (2013) directly to iTunes in the dead of night without any promotion, which became the fastest-selling album in the history of the iTunes Store at the time.
Beyoncé has also demonstrated tremendous marketing savvy, particularly in the art of effectively communicating her brand to her target audience. She has gone on to create a global brand for herself, with her name appearing on everything from perfume and fashion to Pepsi commercials. She was also executive producer of her own HBO documentary “Life Is But A Dream” (2013), which offers a rare glimpse into her private life. She’s masterfully positioned her brand so it reaches the right consumers…or target audience.
Until just this year, Beyoncé was the highest paid female performer in the world (Katy Perry snatched the title last month), and has shone a spotlight on issues ranging from sexism to racial identity in ways never before seen in the mainstream music industry.
And let’s not forget Bey’s co-branding.
Beyoncé shares that she’s “Crazy in Love” with one of the most powerful men in music, Jay-Z. These two powerhouses certainly create one explosive co-brand. At the same time, our Bey still projects a fierce, independent personal brand. Beyoncé managed to become the biggest female pop star in the world while cultivating her marriage and her role as mother. Which brings us to…
Bey the Total Package
Perhaps this describes Bey’s brand the best. With Beyoncé’s brand spanning the worlds of art, entrepreneurship, activism, and family, we get the total package, a Renaissance woman…and an icon with a devout cult following.
And what a shinning example of personal branding to end 2018!
Happy New Year from all of us at Golden Notebook!