What brands can learn from Justin Bieber and his 'Beliebers'
Jeetendr Sehdev | The Guardian
Jeetendr Sehdev explains why marketers can learn a thing or two from Justin Bieber about brand loyalty, outlining three main attributes driving his 'power brand' status
The golden boy of pop is flying off the handle! Over the past few months, Justin Bieber has urinated in public before mocking former President Clinton, disrespected Holocaust victim Anne Frank, abandoned his pet monkey Mally in Germany and just this past weekend spit in an Ohio man's face at a club. But despite his recent antics, Justin's cult fan following, endearingly called 'Beliebers', are not only remaining loyal to the Canadian born superstar but also running to his defence on public television.
As Bieber spirals out of control, the million-dollar question remains: Are Beliebers in need of a new avatar, or will they stick with the good-boy-turned-bad to the bitter end? And for marketers, how on earth do celebrities like Bieber achieve this 'cult brand' status in the first place – what lessons can we learn from his remarkable success?
Clearly, things are working out for Bieber. His first tour, My World Tour, banked over $53M, he has sold 15 million albums and is the most popular celebrity on Twitter with a staggering 41 million followers. Moreover, his name means money. Bieber's line of nail polish (apparently, he can sell anything) has sold 1 million bottles and his first fragrance, named Someday, earned more than $3 million in sales in less than four weeks.
There are essentially three different ways in which Justin Bieber is able to maintain 'power brand' status.
Firstly, the Bieber brand connects with its fans on an emotional level. Safe to say, there's nothing rational about the behaviour of a notoriously crazed Belieber. His rise through social media – a naturally intimate media – and his tendency to share personal moments directly with his fans, including daily shirtless photos, has been a key component in creating this love connection and resulting devotee-like following. For brands, it's also worth trying to replicate an emotional connection of this sort.
Just as important as creating an emotional connection with fans is generating a feeling of accessibility. The fact that Bieber isn't the most talented or bestlooking male singer helps him create a surprisingly authentic and accessible brand image. His legion of fans – that far surpasses that of Elton John or David Beckham – are mainly a homogenous group of adolescent females who genuinely believe that they could one day find themselves dating the teenage heartthrob.
Thirdly, by promoting his brand effectively, Bieber has created a level of immunity that helps him survive media attacks. Interestingly, Tesla, the luxury electric carmaker brand, recently demonstrated this exact immunity. The company voluntarily recalled a group of cars last month due to safety concerns, and without much further ado remains the darling of Silicon Valley and the eco-conscious, luxury consumer – it's pristine reputation fully intact.
Bieber has one other thing going for him: timing. There hasn't been a true superstar with staying power since Michael Jackson or Madonna, and the world is hungry for one. Pop princess Britney Spears was well on her way to achieving this iconic status until her unfortunate psychological demise.
While there are only a few power brands in the world, I believe Bieber is certainly getting up there with the likes of the best of them. Either way, Fortune 500 CMOs can learn many lessons in branding from celebrities and should take notice of this pint-sized pop icon's formula for success.