Taylor Swift and the Brand Refresh


If you have not heard by now, the old Taylor is dead. Taylor Swift recently dropped her first single, “Look What You Made Me Do,” in almost three years in preparation of today’s release of her sixth album, “Reputation.” Noticeably darker than her previous songs about friendship and lost loves, it is evident that Swift is changing up her brand like she has done in the past.
iPhone, YouTube, Taylor Swift
What does this mean for marketers? First, it is easy to recognize when a brand has significance and recognition. Swift’s brand has both. Throughout her transitions across different genres of music, she has managed to maintain, and gain, fans while increasing her brand awareness.

When Swift first entered the music industry, she was a bubbly up-and-coming country singer. Fast forward a few albums later and Swift made her first change. She was not just making the transition from country to pop, but to encouraging her fans to embrace themselves rather than holding onto schoolgirl crushes. This brings us to the release of the latest single and you will see hints of what she has been going through the past few years: assault, public feuds and reinventing herself after turmoil.

While the above is just a summary of how Swift has reinvented herself over the years, this new song shows that she is a woman who has total control of her brand and has no problem refreshing it, both professionally and personally, to make an impact.

After the release of her fifth album “1989”, Swift pulled her music from Spotify and issued an open letter to Apple Music withholding her music until the company reconsidered its artists royalties agreement. Knowing that withholding her music would hurt Apple’s business, Apple Music changed its terms. The takeaway? Lead the conversation to enable change.   

It is also good to know when something needs to be evaluated and improved upon so that it remains relevant. For example, part of a recognizable brand is the marketing materials that support the  brand and brand message. A company doesn’t keep the same website for years. Update are made to keep pace with the latest trends. Messaging is also updated to keep company ambassadors engaged.

Here are some tips to adapt Swift’s brand to your own so you can get smarter and harder in the nick of time:

  • Don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself. Great brands don’t stand still as they adapt to changing environments. Don’t be afraid to reset and look for creative ways to shake it off. (I couldn’t resist!)
  • Humanize. Showing the person, or people, behind a brand makes it real and allows your audience to relate.
  • Stick to your guns. A strong brand does not waver under pressure. If something's not right in your industry, take a stand and see that change happen.

While you ponder how your brand can embrace its inner T. Swift, I will be at my desk listening to her long overdue return.