If you know me at all (follow me on Twitter, read my Tumblr blog, etc.), you know that I am unhealthily obsessed with Lady Gaga. And if you live on the Planet Earth, then you know who the fabulous Gaga is. Lately, as I’ve been talking to people about her, I’ve heard the same thing over and over- “I really don’t want to like her, but I just can’t help it!”. This really struck me as interesting because I don’t think I’ve ever heard that about any other artist, past or present. I decided that I wanted to explore her marketing, personal branding, and public image strategy to see why everyone is falling for Gaga. And I promised #prbc that this post would be based on real examples, and not just an expression of my sheer infatuation (ok, ok, ok). Oh why do we all love Lady Gaga so much?
She’s weird but not too weird: With her overall image of uniqueness, artistry, and outright wackiness, you would think that her music would be pretty bizarre (Bjork, anyone?). But the opposite is true – Gaga has publicly declared herself as a pop star. She writes pop music which is intentionally catchy- thanks to prominent producers such as RedOne – and produces number one hits on the radio. However, it’s the strangeness that draws us in because she isn’t just another Britney. Sure, Gaga wears outfits that no one else ever would. Alexander McQueen runway? She wears it in real life. But she looks amazing doing it. As an audience, instead of being repulsed by her choice of clothing, we want to BE her because she makes it look so effortless (I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t pull off 99% of the things she wears). Gaga strikes the perfect balance in creating her image and that is one of the things that draws people to her.
She fits herself into the mainstream: This point goes along with my first one but I wanted to expand on it by including some of the things that Gaga does in order to carve herself a niche in the mainstream (because without the mainstream, her success would be incredibly limited). Gaga doesn’t seclude herself, or portray herself as a tortured artist- she goes out partying with heiress Paris Hilton and writes songs for American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert. She also constantly references pop culture in her work so that she MAKES herself part of the pop culture she so admires- her latest single “Telephone” features fellow pop-star Beyonce and her song “Dance In The Dark” contains a bridge that’s eerily similar to the one in Madonna’s Vogue. Instead of shunning the mainstream, like so many other artists that we consider “different” do, Gaga embraces it with open arms.
She appeals to a broad audience: This one speaks for itself: girls want to be her, she fully supports the gay community, and I’ve even met some guys who are impressed by her talent and refusal to lip-sync live. My 51 year-old mother has even been known to sing “Poker Face”- good thing she doesn’t know what it means.
She’s a hard worker and keeps her personal life private: Lady Gaga may have a Twitter account, but she is no Lindsay Lohan. In fact, she may be one of the hardest working women in the industry, touring since before her album “The Fame” started climbing up the charts as well as picking all her own outfits and having a major part in the production of her performances. She also does an incredible job of making sure that her personal life stays out of the tabloids; we see articles about her genius as a music artist, rather than ones talking about her stumbling out of clubs wasted (although that’s fine on occasion, of course). Her love life is drama free, or at least as far as we know, and any speculation or rumors are answered coyly enough to keep us interested. Gaga is almost a character- one that never falters and always leaves us mystified.
She values her fans: This one should be a no-brainer for anyone in the public eye, yet it’s surprisingly rare. Gaga uses her Twitter and Facebook to constantly thank all of the people that support her. In fact, she even has a nickname for them – her little Monsters. Gaga is sweet, despite all the scariness.
She represents what we don’t want to show: There’s a little bit of Gaga in all of us – drama, sexuality, a desire to be the center of attention, unashamed individuality, etc. Even though we can’t show that in public, Gaga can and we love it.
Lady Gaga as a brand is actually an incredible thing. She takes things that are quirky and unpopular and uses them to her advantage. Obviously everything that she has now reached an unprecedented level of popularity within the past year. But I’m interested in hearing from you guys – what about Gaga’s brand makes YOU love her?