The Brilliance of Beyoncé’s Brand
7 Lessons From Beyoncé To Build A Coveted & Unique Personal Brand
Wednesday, Sept 27, 2023 in New Orleans, Louisiana, marked a pivotal day for me. I was amongst the 2.7 million people attending 56 dates in 39 cities* of Beyoncé’s electrifying Renaissance Tour Concert.
My desire to attend wasn’t due to peer pressure from two NYC friends who flew in for this moment in time, the media craze, or because I am a huge fan of her music (don’t stone me). Rather, I wanted to witness Beyoncé live in person because I respect her work ethic as an entertainer, businesswoman, humanitarian, mother, and all-around person.
So, in Section 339 (a girl makes sacrifices when she must) of the Caesars Superdome, I. studied. Beyoncé. All night. Sigh.
Prior to attending, I knew Lady Bey was special. Yet, after witnessing her nine wardrobe changes, multiple set transitions, creative choreography, and insatiable fan pandemonium in the audience, it was undeniable that Beyoncé is a phenomenon, and a one-of-a-kind force. Period.
While being entertained by one of the greatest entertainers ever at a solo, near-3 hour concert, I observed people spanning ages, ethnicities, genders, gender identities, sexual preferences having the absolute best time of their lives. As I watched, I pondered what must be a superhuman amount of time & work she must invest and sacrifice she and her family make to deliver this amount of joy night after night to so many people, globally — to the tune of gross $597 million ticket sales*.
With the pervasiveness of social media and the number of self-proclaimed experts birthed from it, personal branding is a core topic on the minds of many. So, in witnessing the megabrand that Beyoncé has built and owns, I offer these lessons from her which I believe we can apply to building unique, ownable and relevant personal brands.
- Perfect Your Craft
It is legend that Beyoncé puts in an indescribable amount of time in perfecting her craft. If you want to be recognized for being the best at something, and also bring something unique to your field, invest time into perfecting your craft.
Start with what you’re naturally gifted at doing, that which you also love, and dedicate efforts to become an undisputed leader and expert in your field. Consider Jim Collins’ Hedgehog Concept to chart your path to a remarkable personal brand.
Once you’re on your way, there will undoubtedly be loneliness while putting in the work, and self-doubt regarding if what you’re doing during invisible hours (hours when no one actually sees your efforts & sacrifices). But, if you put in the work, it is only a matter of time before others will recognize your skills and abilities, and begin seeking you vs the other way around.
I also encourage those who are super eager to share their progress with the world prematurely, to resist the temptation. Worry less about others’ validation of their respective paths of what they’re doing, and spend less time on social promoting what you do. Instead invest that same time and energy honing your craft. Doing so creates what you really want — your audience coming to you. Which leads into lesson #2.
2. Identify An Audience & Be Relevant
Beyonce’s primary audience is everyone, but she speaks specifically to girls, women, and the LGBTQIA+ community. Through songs such as Put A Ring On It, Single Ladies and Love On Top, she has espoused girl empowerment for over two decades. Lady Bey encourages women to advocate for the love they want and have fun while living liberated lives.
The one thing everyone wants in this world is to be seen and heard (also loved, but that’s a different article). Beyonce allows herself to be seen, and also sees and hears her fans. Take note that when you pay attention and show respect to a group of people, over time you earn their respect.
Find an audience — your audience — ideally one who is either underserved or not being served well by existing businesses or experts, and meet their needs in a superior way. Cultivate a give-and-take relationship with them, and prepare for demand to soar.
3. Be Truly Inclusive
Beyoncé embraces all. At the concert, I witnessed a never-before-seen array of ages, ethnicities, gender expressions, relationship statuses, and body types in the same building.
By being who she is naturally, Lady Bey encourages others to do and be the same. She is unashamedly a southern Black woman, and people love her for who she is. So, take note and be YOU. Everyone else is taken. Waste no time imitating others. Spend time with yourself to identify what makes you great, what brings you joy, what time of day you perform best, and what you need to deliver greatness. Then, do it.
4. Partner With Brands Who Share Your Values & Ethos
Beyoncé owns and has investments in many brands. She has also been an endorser of a few, such as Pepsi back in the day. As her brand, wealth and business savvy have grown, we’ve seen her be publicly benevolent in supporting lesser-known, but brand-relevant brands, which is not only generous of her, but smart of her as it expands her reach.
You cannot grow into a mega brand, or appeal to as widespread of an audience as is available to you by going it alone. Consider finding brands and people with whom your business shares audience, vision and values, and craft audience and business-relevant partnerships.
In above photo, Beyoncé dons Telfar’s Track Suit. Telfar is a black-owned apparel line, owned by Liberian-American Fashion Design Telfar Clemens. She publicly stated she ditched her Birkin bag for Telfar’s bag when she said “ “This Telfar bag imported. Birkins? Them sh*t’s in storage.” And then on Lady Bey’s Renaissance album, she referenced the brand in the lyric “Summer Renaissance” with “So elegant and raunchy/ this haute couture I’m flaunting/ This Telfar bag imported.”
The RealReal reported that search interest for Telfar on its platform rose 85 percent on the day Beyoncé dropped the “Renaissance” album. When she wore the red track suit, it was a boon to the brand also benefitting her as the person to put her fans on to a hip, fashionable, affordable luxury brand.
5. Honor Others
I was personally curious about the strategy of her not having an opening act. Having worked in the concert industry at Live Nation, I understand the complications of synchronizing schedules and potential for personal brand defamation when you align with another brand, a.k.a. Jay-Z/R.Kelly Tour or Gwen Stefani/Akon Tour. So sometimes, it’s simply better to go it alone. PLUS, does Bey really need an opening act? We all know the answer is no.
That said, what she did do which was REMARKABLE was give a nod to pioneering women artists, some predecessors and some contemporaries including Rosetta Tharpe, Anita Baker, Aretha Franklin, Sade, Jill Scott, her sister Solangé and so many more. When you honor others, they support you. And you can never have too much support. Speaking of which, Bey has 319M IG followers, so that shows you that she’s honoring a LOT of people.
6. Consider Your Legacy
The world is vast. As of 2021, the World Bank reports that there are 7.88 Billion in the world. When building your narrative, and if you have children, consider how your brand will live on, as well as pave the way for the next-gen through your children. If you don’t have kids like me, perhaps do so for your nieces, nephews, students and/or volunteer to do so. But do think beyond yourself and consider what you will leave behind.
To continue growth, you have to evolve. Lady Bey has been in these entertainment streets for 26 years. In order to have staying power, continue to lean into current trends, while also staying connected to who you are. Evolve and adapt for the long-term win.
BONUS TIP: Keep your personal life private.
We know very little about Beyoncé’s personal life. We know what she wants us to know. Her team has family and personal details on lock. Given this, we follow a very clear and curated narrative of who she is and what she represents. Furthermore, and most importantly, with no chatter about her personal life, she makes her work do the talking. Let’s say we found out that one of her children had a behavioral problem (KNOCK ON WOOD), the media would get carried away (ahem, think Hunter Biden), and our eyes would shift from the narrative of her as Queen Beyoncé. With family, it is inevitable that there are uncontrollable variables that threaten to impact your personal brand, so, follow Bey and just don’t do it.
For more on the actual show, I enjoyed this Elle article written by Julia Ukiomogbe, and found the recap to be synonymous with my experience.
Research on Tour stats sourced in this Variety article.
Olivia F. Scott is Assistant Professor of Advertising at Loyola University, Adjunct Marketing Professor at NYU, and Founder of Omerge Alliances Marketing Consultancy. Learn more at oliviafscott.com.