3 Marketing Moves Brands Can Steal From Today’s Top Entertainers

Brands can fol­low the lead of enter­tain­ers like Aziz Ansari, Drake, and Tay­lor Swift to become more always-on, authen­tic and flex­i­ble in their mar­ket­ing.

Jasper Nathaniel By Jasper Nathaniel from Crowdtap. Join the discussion » 0 comments

When today’s top enter­tain­ers aren’t busy birthing memes, sell­ing out sta­di­ums, and sign­ing books, they dom­i­nate pop­u­lar cul­ture by appeal­ing to a new gen­er­a­tion of con­sumers who expect con­tent that is in-the-moment, authen­tic, and rel­e­vant to their respec­tive lifestyles.

Here are three moves brands can steal from the likes of Aziz Ansari, Drake, and Tay­lor Swift to build their own fan bases in 2016.

Be Diverse & Prolific Or Be Forgotten

In 2015, we saw enter­tain­ers widen the scope of their brands beyond their pri­ma­ry com­pe­ten­cies. One exam­ple is Aziz Ansari, who par­layed his suc­cess as a stand-up com­ic into build­ing a mul­ti-chan­nel brand around the theme of “mod­ern dat­ing.” Between writ­ing and releas­ing a lucra­tive book (Mod­ern Romance), pro­duc­ing and star­ring in a crit­i­cal­ly-acclaimed Net­flix orig­i­nal series (“Mas­ter of None”), and con­tin­u­ing to be pop culture’s de fac­to com­men­ta­tor on mod­ern romance through stand-up and the late night TV cir­cuit, Ansari’s mes­sage reached peo­ple from all angles, and thus his brand reached new heights. While there is over­lap, each piece of con­tent feels fresh and dif­fer­en­ti­at­ed; the added lay­ers only enhance his reach and his appeal to fans. Beyond expand­ing their reper­toires, enter­tain­ers – espe­cial­ly those in the music indus­try – felt the pres­sure to pro­duce more “stuff” than ever before. Artists like Drake, who found new ways to stay on the cul­tur­al radar, won big in 2015. Incred­i­bly, Drake became the most-streamed artist on Spo­ti­fy with­out releas­ing a full-length album, thanks to two mix­tapes and col­lab­o­ra­tions with the likes of Future, and a Gram­my-nom­i­nat­ed diss track that was pro­duced in less than 24 hours. More­over, in the post-MTV era, he released one of the most buzzed about music videos of the year, “Hot­line Bling,” in which he pre­sent­ed him­self as a liv­ing, breath­ing, dad-danc­ing meme. Brand learn­ing: Brands can stay rel­e­vant by mix­ing up their approach to con­tent – expand­ing their sto­ry­telling beyond tra­di­tion­al adver­tis­ing to incor­po­rate short-form and even user-gen­er­at­ed con­tent. By diver­si­fy­ing the con­tent mix and enlist­ing real peo­ple to help tell their sto­ries, brands can be more pro­lif­ic and always-on in the con­text of cul­tur­al con­ver­sa­tions.

Relatability Trumps Unattainability

Dur­ing Hollywood’s hey­day and in the decades that fol­lowed, celebri­ties were por­trayed as glam­or­ized fig­ures whose lives were large­ly per­ceived as unat­tain­able and unre­lat­able. But as tech­nol­o­gy and media trends have evolved, so has our per­cep­tion of the rich and famous. For many celebri­ties, social media gives us a glimpse into their worlds as they tru­ly exist. Whether it’s Kate Hud­son Insta­gram-ing trips to the den­tist or ath­letes bar­ing their souls in The Play­ers’ Tri­bune, tech­nol­o­gy has allowed us to see enter­tain­ers in more authen­tic ways. “Stars – they’re just like us.” Of course, for many enter­tain­ers, relata­bil­i­ty is a cal­cu­lat­ed fac­tor in the shap­ing of their empires. Tay­lor Swift emerges as the prime exam­ple of this trend. Across social media, Swift has sculpt­ed a brand that is fan-cen­tric, down-to-earth, and remark­ably in tune to what’s trend­ing in cul­ture. She shares child­hood #TBT pho­tos like the rest of us, and once sport­ed a cus­tom T-shirt that ref­er­enced an image that went viral on Tum­blr. Brand learn­ing: Mil­len­ni­als might not be fans of bla­tant adver­tis­ing (some stud­ies sug­gest up to 30 per­cent of them have installed some form of ad-block­ing soft­ware), but brands still have mean­ing in their lives. Con­sumers are look­ing to sup­port com­pa­nies whose val­ues align with their own, which is where acces­si­bil­i­ty comes to play. Be human, be real, and be authen­tic.

Build Your Brand Through Consistent Reinvention

A final com­mon­al­i­ty among the year’s top enter­tain­ers is their abil­i­ty to appeal to new audi­ences as their careers evolve. Swift is an obvi­ous exam­ple of this theme – and has been ever since she ditched her cow­boy boots for pop fame in 2012 – as is Drake, who has effec­tive­ly blend­ed a con­ven­tion­al rap style with Top 40 cho­rus­es (and meme-wor­thy dance moves) to win over music-fans out­side of the hip hop uni­verse. And let’s not for­get Justin Bieber, who some­what-iron­i­cal­ly seduced Williamsburg’s hip­ster crowd with “Sor­ry,” the neighborhood’s No. 1 most-played song in 2015, per Spo­ti­fy. In 2015, brands found suc­cess by using con­sumer insights and social lis­ten­ing to iden­ti­fy new pock­ets of fans to con­nect with through their mar­ket­ing. Carhartt, a brand typ­i­cal­ly asso­ci­at­ed with durable work­wear, catered to trendy urban Mil­len­ni­als with its “Work in Progress” line of prod­ucts and Oreo con­tin­ued to shift from moms to Mil­len­ni­als through a snack-sized dig­i­tal con­tent strat­e­gy and a clever eCom­merce play that came just in time for the hol­i­days. Anoth­er clas­sic brand cash­ing in on new audi­ences: L.L. Bean, whose “duck boots” have become a Pin­ter­est dar­ling and are on back­o­rder until ear­ly 2016. Brand learn­ing: As cul­ture shifts, brands can stay rel­e­vant by keep­ing an ear to the ground and track­ing con­sumer behav­ior that may point to oppor­tu­ni­ties to reach new audi­ences. With Mil­len­ni­als and Gen Z-ers, what’s “old” can be new again, and tra­di­tion­al brands can find new life by sculpt­ing their mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy and even their prod­ucts to align with a new guard of con­sumers.

Jasper Nathaniel

Written by Jasper Nathaniel

VP, Business Development and Strategy , Crowdtap

Jasper is Vice President of Business Development & Strategy at Crowdtap, a people-powered marketing platform that enables brands to collaborate with and mobilize consumers to drive insights, innovation, and advocacy.