Growing up in the 80’s, Madonna was the center of my pop music world. Her songs truly inspired me to follow my dreams and lifted me up when I was feeling down. I would spend hours listening to her cassettes from beginning to end in a bedroom lined with Madonna posters. It wouldn’t be until I was an adult that I would finally get to see her perform in concert on 2001, and again in 2012. Today, I am still in awe of her – Madonna’s ambition and keen sense for marketing, business, and branding make her even more fascinating to me.
Thirty-some years later, Madonna is still a huge player in the music world and has just released her thirteenth album, “Rebel Heart”. In fact, Forbes magazine listed Madonna as the highest-paid celebrity in the world for 2013, earning $125 million between June 2012 and June 2013 (during her successful MDNA tour). Time Magazine also called her one of the “25 Most Powerful Women of the Past Century”. She has successfully transformed herself from from a virgin, tomboy, material girl, domanitrix, to a vogue-er. Later she got in touch with her spiritual side, discovered yoga, and became a working mom. Over four decades, she has successfully reinvented her brand again and again as not just a musician, but also as an actress, activist, and an author. Even at the age of 56, she has learned how to embrace the younger generations, while still keeping her community of loyal fans that have been with her since the early years.
7 Marketing & Branding Lessons from Madonna
1. Think Big and Set Goals
Your Brand Ambition: Have big SMART goals in mind for your business’s marketing and follow-thru on your plan.
“I’m tough, I’m ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay.” – Madonna
2. Bring your Community Together
Your Brand Ambition: To be successful in business, build meaningful relationships with your customers and fans, and build a strong network of connections. Keep your connections and customers close and offer help.
“I am because we are. We all bleed the same color. We all want to love and be loved.” -Madonna
Madonna has never been afraid to speak her mind and be open about controversial topics in her music, interviews, or social media. She has also publicly and sincerely apologized at times. Her fans appreciate her transparency, and in the end they respect her for it.
Your Brand Ambition: Practice open communication and transparency to help you build trust with your customers and prospects.
“A lot of people are afraid to say what they want. That’s why they don’t get what they want.” -Madonna
Your Brand Ambition: Take a look at your current marketing and brand messaging. Does your logo, website, or product need to be freshened up with a new look or feel? Have you been complacent with your marketing strategies? Find ways to freshen up your marketing and messaging.
“I’m always looking for something new: a new inspiration, a new philosophy, a new way to look at something, new talent.” – Madonna
5. Be Fearless
There is no doubt, Madonna is fearless. She does not make decisions based on criticism or self-doubt. There are plenty of people who have denounced Madonna’s work – from the Vatican to Parenting Groups. But in the end, Madonna will still be Madonna and her fans don’t seem to care if she mis-steps once in a while. Madonna’s tribute to Prince drew some criticism, but like Questlove pointed out, ““Just to SING his work is brave enough…”
Your Brand Ambition: Step out of your comfort zone, whether that means writing your first blog post, speaking in public, or expanding your company.
“I’ve been popular and unpopular, successful and unsuccessful, loved and loathed and I know how meaningless it all is. Therefore I feel free to take whatever risks I want.” – Madonna
6. Break Some Rules
Madonna did not get where she is by following the rules, or someone else’s lead. Even when Madonna gets “bad” publicity, it still seems to work out for her. Remember Madonna’s Pepsi commerical that never got shown on TV? She still got paid $5 Million dollars for that “unaired” commercial, after she broke Pepsi’s rules.
Your Brand Ambition: When marketing your company, think about how you can set your brand apart by doing it differently or first.
“Better to live one year as a tiger, then a hundred as sheep.” – Madonna
The tone of Madonna’s songs are generally upbeat and fun-loving. With her roots in dance music, Madonna likes to keep things high-energy and vibrant.
Your Brand Ambition: How can you make your marketing feel less serious and stuffy, and bring a smile to someone’s face? If your business or a customer has success, how can you celebrate that success with them?
“I laugh at myself. I don’t take myself completely seriously. I think that’s another quality that people have to hold on to… you have to laugh, especially at yourself.” – Madonna