Monday, 20 September 2010

Lady Gaga - The Ultimate Social Brand

LADY GAGA has rocketed to global fame in less than two years as the first artist to have her first five six singles reach number one. She's also won two Grammys, sold 8 million albums and 15 million singles digitally worldwide.  Her video's have even garnered 1 Billion Views on YouTube.  While her performance art-style stage shows and bizarre outfits have garnered significant attention, it's her loyalty marketing that may sustain her for years.

So how does Lady Gaga foster and cultivate legions of evangelistic fans online? Whether by exclusively releasing content (i.e. “Bad Romance”) on her website or exposing fans to her daily life via Twitter (she has 3 million+ followers) and Facebook (nearly 6 million) - Gaga lets fans come along for the ride.   On Twitter for example, she updates regularly telling fans everything she is doing.  She tweeted them before she opened the Grammy Awards and even tweeted to fans that she was buying them pizza for waiting overnight at an album signing.

To further build engagement, ownership and content, fans are further encouraged to record videos and take photos during her performances with an open invitation to network, comment and share with the world.  To validate fans, Gaga also doesn't allow professional photographers into her concerts (however encourages fans to take photos and videos).

A SENSE OF BELONGING - Lady Gaga gave her fans a name - as she doesn't like the word "fan". So, she calls them her "Little Monsters," named after her album "The Fame Monster." She even tattooed "Little Monsters" on her arm and tweeted the picture to fans professing love for them. Now fans are even getting their own Little Monster tattoos. By giving the group a formal name, it gives fans a way to refer to each other. Fans feel like they are joining a special club. Psychologically, this ‘sense of community’ is one of the major tenants of self-definition. Belonging to a group can involve language, dress, and/or ritual. To be part of the group gives meaning and association with a larger group provides emotional safety and a sense of belonging and identification. The influence is bi-directional.

STORYTELLING, RITUALS AND MYTH-MAKING - During her concert tour, Gaga recites a "Manifesto of Little Monsters". Although a bit cryptic, most Little Monsters see it as a dedication to them, that her fans have the power to make or break her. Whether New Testament, Torah, or Koran - EVERY major religion is built upon a heft of history and stories (mostly gruesome and miraculous.) Ritualistic patterns make us feel consistent, stable, safe, and grounded. It’s clear that people ritualize positive experiences and keep coming back for more.

SHARED SYMBOLS - The official Little Monster greeting is the outstretched "monster claw" hand. As all Little Monsters know, the clawed hand is part of the choreography in the video of her song "Bad Romance." Even Oprah knows the Little Monster greeting. Shared symbols allow fans to identify each other and connect. The cross. A dove. An angel, or crown of thorns. Organized religion is full of iconography and symbolism that act as an instant global language, or shorthand. This is also true of products and brands. A brand or product (symbol) logo can evoke powerful associations, just like religious icons. Think: Lance Armstrong (Nike) “Live Strong” bracelets.

FAN AS THE HERO - Lady Gaga makes her customers feel special. A staple of Gaga's "Monster Ball" tour is to call a fan in the audience during the show. Gaga dials the number onstage, the fan screams out, is located and they are put up on a big screen. While the rest of audience goes bananas, the fan is invited to have a drink with her after the show. In doing this, Gaga doesn't simply add value to her ticket price but also creates experiences that stand out by virtue of being so "extra."

It gets better.  Lady Gaga dedicates her shows to her frenzied fans (and each of her awards to her gay fan base), claiming only to be the "jester" to their kings and queens. By letting her fans know that she knows (that everyone knows) that they have the "power to make or break her," Gaga has made her success shareable. It gives fans the chance to not only showcase and articulate their faith, but also to unite with fellow believers.  Magic.

SENSORY APPEAL - No one really does branded spectacle like Lady Gaga. She’s Liberace, Marilyn Manson, Madonna, David Bowie and Ozzy simultaneously.  The music is entirely secondary to the spectacle.  Lady Gaga defies expectation and just when you think you’ve got her pegged - she dawns an evening dress made entirely of fresh meat.

Her brand appeal is much more about the fact she’s always changing and unpredictable - challenging people's tendency (and ability) to shut out their environment, she disrupts with new modes of aestheticism.  She's everything we ever learned, every case study, lesson and truth all bundled up into one brand.   Just like all great religions, (whether church, temple, or mosque), Lady Gaga's unique sensory appeal is an integral part of the otherworldly brand experience.  Web Site

Twitter ladygaga

If there’s a more perfect hybrid of branding, PR, advertising, and marketing today - we haven't seen it. Have you?  If so please, do tell.

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Goodbuzz Inc. is a Toronto-based Digital Agency that creates social media campaigns that entice consumers to play, create, and share brand experiences. This is accomplished by focusing on developing "branded utility" - moving away from interruptive 'push' models towards more meaningful ways of connecting. From simple metrics to actionable insights that enable data-driven marketing decisions - Goodbuzz links social media efforts to business outcomes. Visit Goodbuzz or join us on FacebookAny / all product names mentioned in this document may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies and are hereby acknowledged.