Beyoncé was a force to be reckoned with in 2014 – and I’m sure 2015 won’t be any different. And while her skills as a talented singer and performer keep her on the top of everyone’s list, what interests me most about Beyoncé is her brand management and strategy. I think she and her team do a few key things that small business owners can learn from.

Beyoncé has and continues to successfully identify and cater to her target audience.
Occasionally, you hear a man complaining about Beyoncé’s lyrics or ‘girl power’-themed music. That’s okay – those men aren’t part of the core audience she’s trying to reach. Beyoncé began her career in a teenage girl group, and has since made music that appeals to her obviously female-dominated fan base and the spectrum of emotions and experiences they share. Even her philanthropic activities are largely centered around the advancement of females, and she’s a supporter of initiatives like Girls, Inc, Girl Up, Chime for Change, Ban Bossy, and others.

What can small business owners learn from this?
If you’ve done your due diligence in establishing your target audience, then their needs, wants, expectations and experiences should remain at the forefront of your product development, as well as your marketing and branding activities.

 

Beyoncé evolves with the expectations and experiences of her target audience.
This one is two-fold. On one hand – Beyoncé’s target audience has grown with her over the years, and just has she and her audience have matured, so has her music and performances. On another note, Beyoncé continues to keep up with and surpass present-day trends, helping her to remain relevant. With a surprise, digital release of a visual album in 2013, the mogul displayed both the creative and business know-how that keep her on the cutting edge of how her target audience experiences and consumes media.

What can small business owners learn from this?
Your brand, products and services should evolve over time. Make sure you evaluate your brand and your offering annually to be sure the path you are on still makes sense for your target audience and the direction your market is headed. While you’re at it, always strive to innovate and/or anticipate the wants/needs of your audience, and to adjust your approach accordingly.

 

Beyoncé maintains consistent branding across all media.
Since the release of her visual album, Beyoncé’s website, social media channels, and even her products are all visually tied together, combining consistent font type with image-heavy elements. Also identifiable, are her handwritten messages that make appearances across her online real estate.

Beyonce Branding

via Beyonce.com

What can small business owners learn from this?
You should maintain consistent branding in all you do. From the voice, to the visuals, everything you do on behalf of your brand should be representative of your brand and the standards you’ve put in place.

 

Queen Bey knows that ‘Content is King’.
Beyoncé understands the value of content, and she is constantly creating and meticulously curating content. She knows her target audience wants to hear and see what she has going on, and she makes great use of her website and social media outlets to give them what they want. And since she and her team are the owners and larger distributors of that content, when users look for and share that content, they are going to, sharing from and sending others to Beyoncé’s online real estate – earning her more traffic and more reach. Her distribution of so much content also allows her to have great influence on the conversation that takes place about her brand. Furthermore, as the video below demonstrates, she strategically re-purposes and expands on existing content to create new content, that she then gives away online or packages to put together a new product.

 

What can small business owners learn from this?
Content, content, content. Whether it’s blogging, photography or video, you should be creating new content. New content keeps things fresh, improves your SEO and keeps people interested and coming back for more. It also gives you a chance to start a conversation and to serve as a resource for your target audience. Once you’ve created content, don’t just let it die. Find new ways to use and share it, and create new ways for your audience to experience it.

 

Beyoncé is particular about social media.
The pop icon only dabbles in the places where it makes sense for her to dabble, based on the content she prefers to release, the relationship she wants to maintain with her target audience, and the space she’s most comfortable in. She’s been known to be a fairly private person, and so constant Twitter updates don’t make much sense for her or her brand. Facebook, Instagram and YouTube; however, have proven to suit the singer and the content she’s willing to share more appropriately. She also tailors the type of content to the social media channel, with more promotional content living on Facebook, and more personal updates going to Instagram. Read more on the strategic decisions behind Beyoncé’s social media presence here.

What can small business owners learn from this?
Just because it exists, doesn’t mean you have to use it – in other words, don’t feel compelled to join social networks just for the sake of joining them. Think about your target audience, the content you want to share, the content you will share regularly, and your brand’s voice and standards – and then decide whether or not you should establish a presence on a given social network.

 

Beyoncé finds new, creative ways to advertise.
Upon the announcement of their joint tour, Beyoncé and husband, Jay Z released a star-studded movie trailer as an advertisement.  She’s also taken significant creative control in her sponsorship roles to advertise for other brands like Pepsi, and used her music to truly connect with her target audience first, while delivering her sponsor’s promo message in the process.

 

 

What can small business owners learn from this?
Get creative. Your consumers are bombarded with messages every day, in every space you can imagine. Find ways to create advertising and communication pieces that cut through the noise and leave your audience with something to remember that will encourage them to recall your brand the next time they make a purchasing decision.

 

Beyoncé chooses carefully how and when to address negative public accusations.
From lip syncing and rumors of divorce to the whole elevator ordeal, Beyoncé has used very specific methods of PR to address and spin the story that the public discusses. Using honesty (admitting to and the reasons behind lip syncing), multimedia content (sharing video and images of she and her husband’s happy life together), music (stating boldly that “of course sometimes [stuff] goes down when there’s a billion dollars on a elevator”), and a “I can show you better than I can tell you” approach (singing the national anthem live and continuing to portray a blissful life with Jay Z), her brand remains strong in light of many public blemishes.

What can small business owners learn from this?
Your brand’s reputation and credibility are very important. And while the things people say about your brand are impactful, even more impactful is how you respond to those things. While you probably can’t make such bold moves as Beyoncé, you can be thoughtful in your approach and maintain the integrity of your brand in how you address any public issues that arise.

 

Beyoncé knows there’s power in partnership.
While she’s a force all on her own, Beyonce often teams up with other high profile names and organizations. From the First Lady to Lady Gaga, Beyoncé’s careful (and deliberate, I’m sure) choices in who and what to associate her brand with allow her to tap in to other audiences while also staying true to and maintaining the integrity of her brand.

What can small business owners learn from this?
When it’s possible, and only when it makes sense, team up with other brands. From events and social mentions, to preferred partner programs, there are ways to build your brand through the association with another, and likewise ways to build up other brands that make sense for you to publicly associate with.

 

Beyoncé is a storyteller.
Successful marketing communications is all about telling stories – painting pictures to deliver key messages that inspire action. From her songs, to her albums, to her videos and other multimedia content, Beyoncé paints vivid pictures of the lyrics she sings and the life she lives, which in turn inspires adoration, admiration and affinity from her fans, which ultimately turn into ticket and album sales. No matter what story she tells, whether fictional or autobiographical, it always appears to be in line with her brand and relevant to her target audience.

What can small business owners learn from this?
Tell a story. Paint a picture. Be deliberate and creative in your interactions with your target audience to convey not only the value you can bring to their lives, but also true meaning and a look at what your brand stands for.

 

Beyoncé gives back.
As I mentioned earlier, she’s involved in many initiatives that relate to females, but she also supports other initiatives that serve other audiences. She has even branded her philanthropic efforts with “BeyGood.”

What can small business owners learn from this?
I’m all about brands finding ways to contribute to their communities. Communities need the support of small businesses, just like small businesses need the support of communities. Get ideas on how you can give, teach and partner to give back to your community here

 

Beyoncé keeps the main thing, the main thing.
Although she has ventured into other things and is quite the successful businesswoman, owning her own entertainment company, fragrance line, and more, the Beyoncé brand is largely dedicated to music. While you’re most certain to see an ad for a fragrance, calendar, sweatshirt, or something else she is associated with, she is first and foremost represented as, and thus recognized as a musical performer. She does a good job of keeping her other pursuits in the channels and lanes which they belong.

What can small business owners learn from this?
Expansion is great – go ahead, spread your wings. But do so when it makes sense and in a way that makes sense. Don’t muddy one brand with promotion of a product or service that does not make sense for your original brand’s target audience. And if you do want them all to family together, make sure you are considering your target audience and whether what you are introducing to the mix is something they even [will] want or need.

 

And last but definitely not least, Beyoncé is branding and marketing an undeniably great product. The lesson? Make sure you choose quality over quantity, and always work to perfect your craft so you can be sure you are giving your audience the very, very best of what you have to offer. Marketing and branding are easier when the product or service speaks for itself.

That’s all I’ve got, folks. I hope these tips and examples from the superstar, herself, help you as you hit the ground running this year!
There’s no denying how great the Beyoncé brand is, and how great the woman herself is, but I did want to take a minute to give major kudos to some of her team members, who I’m sure play significant roles in maintaining and growing the brand:

Lauren Wirtzer-Seawood, Digital Strategy, Parkwood Entertainment // Angela Beyince, Vice President of Operations // Lee Anne Callahan-Longo, General Manager // Jim Sabey, Head of Worldwide Marketing // Yvette Noel-Schure, Publicist // Melissa Vargas, Brand Manager // Todd Tourso, Creative Director // Ed Burke, Visual Director

 

Did I miss something? Do you know another artist who does a great job of branding? Comment below or send me an email – archele@redgalsmarketing.com. Thanks for reading!

Archele
Archele
CEO and Lead Consultant of RedGal's Marketing.
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