She’s possibly the most-known name in the world. Her repute, showmanship, and hit-writing ability precede her. But how did Taylor Swift establish herself as one of the most recognized brands in the world? And how does she maintain it?
Glossing over her transition from childhood singer to country artist to pop superstar, Swift has undergone multiple career changes, business model shifts, and marketing plans. Over the last few years, though, her brand has begun to settle into an order and aura that she’s almost indirectly known for: slow disappearance from social media, brand makeover with a story behind it, captivation with vibes of mystery and drama, and finally massive release. And while other artists have taken part in similar, if not identical, strategies, the grandiose and exclusive nature Swift brings with her presence and display are outdone by no other in the music industry.
Her 2014 album 1989 set new standards of exemplary marketing techniques, beginning with her slow fading from her social media platforms. Follow the Red tour and hysteria starting two years prior, Swift began to post less and less tour pictures and behind-the-scenes glimpses on Instagram. Alongside that, her Twitter activity began to dwindle, until soon enough it had been days, if not a week, since she posted or was visibly active online anywhere. Then, without warning, her social media profile was blank. No posts, no profile picture, nothing.
Following the disappearance, the brand makeover took place. The silence she built up, with one polaroid picture, was turned into a flood of retweets, likes, and media coverage. What did it mean? What was her new “thing”? From her fans, to her followers and her haters, everyone had to know.
Then slowly, as hysteria settled in, Swift would reveal more about her next planned album. First came the number “1989”, which she revealed was inspired by her birth year. Next came a story behind it: how the album signified a theme of self-discovery and her life as a whole. She gave a personal, relatable meaning to the trend she started, making it sit with people even more. Next came creating a mysterious, exclusive marketing tactic, which played out in multiple ways. From teasing what famous individuals certain songs were written about to secret, invite-only listening parties in her home, Swift made 1989 something that only the lucky could be a part of at first, with the rest of the world left teased and wanting more.
Once Taylor’s album released, the final step was put into place. 1989 was available to every person in the world to hear, but to live? Was that even possible? Swift, and her team, embarked to make 1989 an experience to be a part of, with every concert, event, and release bringing people closer to her brand and self. Her deluxe album offered a written personal message and story by the singer herself. Her meet and greets included listening parties and at times city-specific activities. Her shows displayed amazingly choreographed movements, explosions, videography, and timing. The stadiums she sold out became closed-in Taylor Swift worlds, with dazzling, loudness, colors, and nearly 40 different artists joining her in performance on differing stages across the globe. She even made a movie depicting the grandeur of her tour: “The 1989 World Tour”. Every Taylor Swift experience came packaged as exactly that – an experience. Even those who don’t enjoy her music, or brand even, couldn’t deny the spectacular involvement and excitement felt when allowed to take part in a Taylor Swift show.
Now, her newest release, which has taken a path closely related to that of 1989, adds even more to Swift’s brand legacy. A disappearance followed by a re-branding with a story behind it until it turns into worldwide recognition and engagement. And at this point, with her name, following, and reach, the only thing that limits her brand’s ability and effectiveness is her… Reputation.