Taylor Swift uses her 120 million followers to connect with fans as friends and build a beloved brand. While her social media is definitely handled by a large team of activators, she has a vision, direction, and the final say of her brand portrayal.
Let’s use our smart strategic thinking model to explain her brilliance in how she has fuelled a decade momentum, while everyone other superstar falls. Our five elements of strategy include:
- Set a vision of what you want for your brand
- Invest resources in a strategic program
- Focus on an identified opportunity
- Leverage a breakthrough impact
- Performance result that pays back
Five elements of strategic thinking that explain Taylor Swift's momentum plan.
1. Set a vision of what you want
- Every pop star wants #1 songs and sold-out concerts for as long as possible. Taylor also wants to portray herself as an average small-town girl living a big city celebrity life.
2. Invest resources in a strategic program
- Taylor’s most loyal fans are young women, 13-27; who are discovering life. She treats her fans as “new friends along for the ride.” And she uses social media to show she’s doing ordinary things in her crazy world. She uses face-to-face events to shock a few fans, making those fans watching feel closer to Taylor.
3. Focus on an identified opportunity
- She works social media better than anyone. She leaves little surprise notes on fans Instagram posts. It could be as small as “that’s cute” or full-blown advice (see right). Her writing style is highly personal as though it’s from one friend to another. Imagine the impact when a teenager realizes someone with 100 followers was on their page. Taylor uses face-to-face drop-ins to randomly show up at the most personal moments in a fans life. She randomly attended a fan’s wedding, hugging everyone and talking with ease among her “friends.” She created“SwiftMas,” where they studied the social media pages of individual fans to give them bespoke gifts and a hand-written note—just like a friend would do. She visited one long-term fan with gifts for her son, spending 2 hours playing with her son, as though she were a good friend.
4. Leverage a breakthrough market impact
- With each program, Taylor comes off as open, authentic, and genuine, who loves connecting with her fans. In a cluttered world of social media, her perfect image remains the “normal girl doing normal things anyone might do.” Her image has allowed her to overcome any natural pain points a celebrity goes through. She’s had many bad personal relationships. What would a normal girl do when she breaks up? Write a song about what a jerk each guy was. She took on Apple over low royalty payments; Apple backed down, and then Taylor did an Apple TV ad. Taylor pulls off everything with ease her squeaky clean image allows her to do.
5. Performance result that pays back
- Taylor is beloved by her fans, keeping her momentum going for over a decade. With sold-out concerts, #1 hits, and many Grammy awards. Her fans (friends) think they know her. Maintaining a considerable following makes it easy to create hype around albums or concert tours.
Examples how Taylor has surprised her fans
How to write smart strategic objective statements to build a plan around your situational strategy
Using our model for how to write a smart strategic objective statement, let’s look at how the four elements – a) strategic program b) focused opportunity c) market impact and the expected performance result – play out:
Writing a situational strategic objective statement with the a + b + c + d model
A: Build a strategic program that deploys one of your key resources (financial, people, time or partnerships) against the situation.
B: Find a focused opportunity to enhance or fix one area of your brand, including your brand positioning, advertising, media, innovation, claims, retail, consumer experience or organizational culture. You could also look at pricing, costs, investment decisions or product lineup.
C: Achieve a market impact that directly addresses the brand situation, one of: keep the momentum going, fix it, realignment or a start-up situation.
D: Achieve a performance result that puts the brand in a better position for the future, either driving one of the eight power drivers or one of the eight profit drivers.
Examples of writing situational strategic objective statements for Taylor Swift’s continuing to drive momentum plan
Use intimacy of a social media to get closer to fans (a) using well-placed social media comments and face-to-face surprise events (b) to build a core base of loyal brand lovers that help maintain her momentum (c) and drive higher album and concert sales (d).
Invest time in building deeper, and more meaningful songwriting (a) that repositions Taylor as a more mature “indie artist” (b) which will realign her image (c) to maintain a tight bond with her most loyal fans, as Taylor and her fans get older together (d).
The Taylor Swift brand plan
Recording superstar, who is a small-town girl living the big-city celebrity life.
#1 songs, concert sales, social media followers, video views.
- How do we stay connected with our most cherished fans, who see themselves as friends of Taylor?
- How do we continue Taylor’s star power momentum, as Taylor’s core base of fans moves into their 20s and 30s?
- Use intimacy of a social media to get closer to fans using well-placed social media comments and face-to-face surprise events to build a core base of loyal brand lovers that help maintain her momentum and drive higher album and concert sales.
- Invest time in building deeper, and more meaningful songwriting that repositions Taylor as a more mature “indie artist” which will realign her image to maintain a tight bond with her most loyal fans, as Taylor and her fans get older together.
Maintain strong following, engage with fans directly on social media, create surprise and delight events, use quick videos to show Taylor’s behind-the-scenes life (small-town girl living a big-city celebrity life), stand up on key issues such as bullying and the rights of artists.
What will you get from the Beloved Brands playbook?
In the past two decades, what makes brands successful has changed, and you must change with it. You will learn the fundamentals of managing your brand, with brand love at the core. I will show you how to improve your thinking to unleash your full potential as a brand leader.
You will learn how to think, define, plan, execute, and analyze, and I provide every tool you will ever need to run your brand. You will find models and examples for each of the four strategic thinking methods, looking at core strength, competitive, consumer, and situational strategies.
To define the brand, I will provide a tool for writing a brand positioning statement as well as a consumer profile and a consumer benefits ladder. I have created lists of potential functional and emotional benefits to kickstart your thinking on brand positioning. We explore the step-by-step process to come up with your brand idea and bring it all together with a tool for writing the ideal brand concept.
For brand plans, I provide formats for a long-range brand strategy roadmap and the annual brand plan with definitions for each planning element. From there, I show how to build a brand execution plan that includes the creative brief, innovation process, and sales plan. I provide tools for how to create a brand calendar, and specific project plans.
To grow your brand, I show how to make smart decisions on execution around creative advertising and media choices. When it comes time for the analytics, I provide all the tools you need to write a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumer, channels, competitors and the brand. Write everything so that it is easy to follow and implement for your brand.
You will learn everything you need to know so you can run your brand. My brand promise is to help make you smarter so you can realize your full potential.