Branding Lessons from Katy Perry

Why am I able to identify her songs the first time I hear them? Because Katy Perry has an incredibly strong brand.

Music is really important in my family. I know a lot of people say that, but here’s some serious proof:

  • Our wedding reception was entirely karaoke (with some unexpected interpretive dance thrown in for good measure). Not only do we love to sing, but we are surrounded by music nerds.
  • Our biggest struggle in wedding planning was choosing the first dance song. Eventually we landed on “At Last,” solely because we knew my former roommate would destroy it as a karaoke number.
  • Our son has never really heard a lullabye (except from his grandmas). Instead, his “go to sleep” songs are our favorite songs from Fleetwood Mac, Gregory & the Hawk, Elton John, Ryan Adams, Dixie Chicks, and Kermit the Frog.
  • We once overtook a Christmas party by turning it into an “80’s Name that Tune” party … and my husband & I beat the combined 10 other party guests. (And yes, somehow we’ve been invited back to that person’s parties.)

One of our favorite competitions is to name any song title & artist on the radio as quickly as possible. This is easy enough on the Oldies & Classic Rock stations, but can be very challenging on Top 40 radio, where there are constantly new songs being featured.

Recently, we were playing “Name that Tune” on our road trip, and somewhere in Ohio, we heard a song that was new to both of us. I guessed, “Is this the new Katy Perry song?” and Shazam confirmed my victory.

Why was I able to identify her song the first time I heard it? Because Katy Perry has an incredibly strong brand.

Obviously her voice is part of the equation (her range & vocal style are dead giveaways), but also the topics that she sings about, the arrangement choices, the beat … all of it plays into a song “feeling” like a Katy Perry song.
And she’s not the only one. Think about Rihanna, or Taylor Swift, or Beyonce; you flip the channel & hear one of their new singles and you immediately recognize Rihanna’s sing-moaning, or Taylor’s lyrical stylings, or Beyonce’s overall awesomeness.
Be Yourself. Unless you can be Beyonce. Then always be Beyonce.

You want your brand to have the same impact.

When someone opens your website, or visits your facebook page, or sees one of your Pins, you want them to think, “Hey, is that the newest content from ____(insert your business name here)____?” and then, recognizing that it’s your work, click through to read more.

Consistency creates two things: recognition and trust. When your potential customers know what to expect from you, they look forward to it.

Now obviously we don’t have the same reach & audience as these amazing musical women … and that’s ok. They’ve worked hard for years to get where they are, and to create their unique sound and image and brand.

But we can emulate their branding success in a few ways:

  • using consistent colors & fonts so that our visual products are recognizable at a glance;
  • >writing with your own voice, and not trying to copy anyone else, so that your personality can shine through (even if that means using the made up word “sing-moan” like me);
  • thinking through your customer experience, so that your clients walk away with a positive impression about working with you.

Notice that I’m talking about branding without a single mention of the word “logo” (until right then). Remember that your branding is so much more than your color selection or your logo — it’s not a static decision, it’s an ongoing experience.

How are your clients experiencing your brand today?

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