5 Things Celebrities Can Teach us About Branding


Last week I attended Brand ManageCamp in Las Vegas where 400+ marketers gathered to discuss branding best practices. Aside from picking up tips from the lineup of keynote speakers, I also popped across the street for a visit of Madame Tussauds wax attraction. Celebrities are masters of personal branding, so much so that some of them only need to go by one name - so among the 100 wax celebrity figures, I discovered some branding lessons to share:

Define Your Brand's Style

Who would Prince be without his purple? Johnny Cash was known as "the man in black." Would Elvis still be considered king without his bedazzled jumpsuits? Just as celebrities carefully craft their personal style identities, brands must also define their look through use of a style guide. A proper style guide gives your brand a definition through its logo, color palette, fonts, photography choices and voice.


Your Brand is Always "On Stage"

Although celebrities would like to escape the spotlight and live a regular life when they are not working, with the paparazzi and proliferation of cell phones they can never really get out of the public eye. A consequence of this is the need to be conscious that you are always "on stage."

Similarly, brands are living in a 24/7/365 world and what your employee says on social media can end up being a tweet heard round the world if it's not managed carefully. Be sure to have a brand monitoring process in place.


Quality Matters

When it comes to a celebrity's appearance for red carpet events, nothing but the best will do. That's why they turn to fashion, makeup, jewelry and hair experts to ensure their style is on point.

Companies also need to be careful who's hands they put their brand into for delivery of their marketing messages. A poorly-executed campaign by a under-skilled vendor can come back to make the brand look bad. Be sure you are working with experts in their craft.


Craft a Memorable Tagline

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson built his wrestling/acting career with a stellar tagline "Do you smell what The Rock is cooking?" Matthew McConaughey launched to stardom with his first movie role catchphrase of "Alright, alright, alright." Brands should not underestimate the power of a catchy turn of phrase that resonates with the audience, as it can result in a lifetime of marketing gold.


Be Unique

Many celebrities rely on shock value to gain attention and sales. While your brand may not want or need to go to the lengths of Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry or Madonna, there is still value in being unique and taking some risks. If the marketing among you and your competitors is starting to look homogeneous, why not try something radically different to stand out?


Celebrities who cultivate a powerful personal brand end up making far more money that those who fail to do so. Tell me marketers, what branding lessons have you learned from your favorite stars?

About the author

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Karen M. Wenning

Karen M. Wenning

Karen aspired to be a cowgirl or a farmer, but after graduating from UW Madison she found herself crafting prose for luxury brands at an advertising agency. There, she developed a passion for working with graphic designers and marketing professionals, creating brand-right marketing across their networks. As a former client of Suttle-Straus, Karen joined the team in 2008 serving in marketing and sales. She considers herself an accidental salesperson, on a mission to increase her clients’ traffic and sales. At home, Karen can be found challenging her husband and three children to a downhill ski or swim race, growing organic produce while fending off garter snakes, or herding her small flock of chickens.
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Topics: Brand Management, Best Practices