The Taylor Swift Guide to
Building a Powerful Brand

There is no denying the influence of Taylor Swift.

There is no denying the influence of Taylor Swift.

In the span of her two-decade career, she has captured the hearts and minds of millions. Her Eras Tour boosted the economy in the cities it traversed and has pulled in more than $1 billion in revenue thus far. The show picks up again in March 2024 and will run through the end of the year.

Taylor herself became a billionaire in 2023 and Bloomberg recently estimated that her tour added $4.3 billion to the country’s gross domestic product. She has won 12 GRAMMY Awards (including three for Album of the Year), 40 American Music Awards, 39 Billboard Music Awards and 23 MTV Music Video Awards. She is both Spotify and Apple’s Artist of the Year.

Hey lyrics give voice to the internal lives of women and girls everywhere.

But her impact and ability to challenge the status quo and move people into action doesn’t stop there.

In 2014, she challenged music industry norms by removing her entire catalog from streaming platforms, sparking an intense conversation about fair compensation for artists.

In 2019, in light of her personal battle over ownership of her master recordings when her label Big Machine Records was purchased by Scooter Braun, Swift chose to sidestep Braun and began rerecording everything in her songbook with her new label Republic Records. She negotiated ownership of master rights to all her recordings moving forward, cementing her role as a model for other artists.

There is no denying the influence of Taylor Swift.

In 2023, a single Instagram post directing fans to drove more than 35,000 new registrations.

Her appearance at boyfriend Travis Kelce’s Kansas City Chiefs games has driven a 400% spike in Kelce jersey sales according to Fanatics.

Her philanthropy is well-documented. She has donated to disaster relief efforts (most recently, $1M to help communities ravaged by Tennessee tornadoes), Feeding America, the NAACP, local food banks, cancer patients and sexual abuse survivors, the Tennessee Equality Project and countless fundraisers and KickStarters led by her fans.

She is a masterclass in how to capture attention, create raving fans and build steadfast loyalty. The aptly named Taylor Effect is her ability to foster a supportive community and act as a catalytic spark that affects change and ripples through her community and beyond.

Taylor’s personal evolution, her ability to create compelling narratives, establish an emotional bond with her massive following and bring them along on her journey offer valuable insight into creating a compelling and much-loved brand.

Here are five things you can do to build a beloved brand just like TSwift:

Get good at storytelling.

Through her lyrics, videos and social posts, Taylor is always sharing stories that resonate with her fans. They feel both her heartbreak and her joy because they have been there, too. Her storytelling is powerful because it not only shapes her music, but also how her fans perceive their own lives. During her concerts, there is realness, empathy, authenticity, and connection. The narrative is inclusive, and all can partake.

The Lesson: There is tremendous power – and opportunity for connection in a willingness to be vulnerable and share our stories.

Be authentic and relatable.

Telling personal stories has the power to make us more relatable, and as such makes it easier for people to connect and feel an affinity for us. Taylor’s lyrics are often deeply personal and based on experiences that her fans can identify with. She’s not afraid to speak about anxiety and self-doubt, topics many are afraid to speak about openly. But Taylor often says the quiet part out loud, tapping into powerful emotions. She is also renowned for liking fans social posts, sharing their content, and inviting them backstage before and after shows. She holds listening parties at her homes – called “Secret Sessions” – for Swifties to preview her albums and hang out.

The Lesson: To be truly authentic you must know who you are and what you stand for. You must live by your values and not be deterred by your detractors. Swift has them in spades (we see you mediocre MAGA men), but it hasn’t dulled her shine. In fact, she only gets brighter and more beloved. She is real with her fans and in turn, they love her for it.

Delight and surprise your community.

Taylor is a master at making her community feel seen and appreciated. In addition to the aforementioned “Secret Sessions,” she has made surprise home visits, donated to fan fundraisers, invited them backstage before and after concerts, and supported their causes. She infuses elements of surprise and engages fans by hiding Easter eggs in her lyrics, music videos, performances, and promotions. Her social posts, costumes, props, and stage design hold clues about future projects and elicit widespread speculations (see #SwiftTok).

The Lesson: In a world that feels more and more automated, particularly when it comes to brand interaction, taking the time and making an effort to surprise and delight customers will build brand loyalty and have them coming back for more.

There is no denying the influence of Taylor Swift.

Take a stand.

Much like her storytelling, which is masterfully unapologetic, Taylor intertwines her brand with her personal beliefs and values. She has consistently used her platform to advocate for change, championing causes such as women,s, LGBTQ+ and artists rights and activating her young fans to register to vote. She’s not afraid to use her voice and her massive platform to speak out about the causes she cares about. She knows that she’ll alienate some people, but she also knows that those will never be her people.

The Lesson: It’s important to know you’re not for everyone, nor should you try to be. Plain vanilla brands don’t get much attention or traction. When you are authentic and passionate and live and breathe your values, you’ll attract more of the people who will be at home in your community.

Invest in your people.

Stories of the time and effort that Taylor puts into her community are legendary. Her ability to connect and engage and her epic generosity have spurred countless articles and lessons in marketing strategy. And for good reason. Swift understands that her reach and influence go far beyond her as an individual. She is the catalytic spark who fosters and nurtures her community of Swifties, who then influence each other, creating a ripple effect throughout the community and beyond. Taylor understands that there is gold in her own backyard and her ability to cultivate and mine it is the key to her longevity.

The Lesson: Most marketers will tell you to grow your email list and your audience, but you must never forget the people who are already a part of your community. In fact, they are your ambassadors and the ones most likely to sing your praises and help you spread the word when you appreciate them. It’s imperative to foster and nurture the relationships you do have, as they have influence on their people and so on and so on. Your continued growth depends on how well you take care of the people already in your community.

When you incorporate authentic storytelling and your values and passions into your work and invest in your people just like TSwift, you will be well on your way to creating a more compelling brand. From redefining the music industry to advocating for social justice to inspiring her legions of Swifties and beyond, Taylor Swift has certainly earned the self-proclaimed moniker of Mastermind.


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