Rebranding…it’s not just for businesses.
Look no further than the example of Stefani Germanotta, better known as “Lady Gaga.” Fans know that Gaga has reinvented herself numerous times in a musical context: She began as a neo-burlesque club act and New York cult sensation, before exploding onto the scene as a world-conquering, meat suit wearing, dance music pop star.
After pushing the conceptual art boundary as far as it could go, Gaga shapeshifted into a rootsier, rock-heavy persona that saw her minimize the glam and artifice in favor of a more personal approach to her craft and her presentation.
None of those transformations hold a candle to Gaga’s latest rebranding, however: Full-fledged, Oscar-caliber A-list actress.
Rebranding on the big screen
Gaga isn’t completely new to acting. Her credits, in fact, stretch back 15 years, all the way to a bit part in an early episode of “The Soprano’s.” She’s also taken a starring role in the popular “American Horror Story” TV series.
All told, she has 40 credits to her name on TV and film. However, there is a major caveat: Almost all of those appearances were tied into her musical persona, and none of them featured a performance quite like her leading role in “A Star is Born.”
Gaga has drawn rave reviews (and likely Oscar notices) for her role as Ally, a diamond-in-the-rough singing waitress who eventually climbs to the top of the record industry after being discovered by co-star Bradley Cooper’s famous yet troubled troubadour.
Though she’s drawn critical raves for a performance that marries powerful acting with showstopping singing, landing this role was only the first step in Gaga’s most recent — and most impressive — rebranding. She isn’t content to merely arrive on the scene as an Oscar-contending actor.
As a recent New York Times Magazine profile makes clear, Gaga is playing a much bigger role — that of a screen siren from Hollywood’s Golden Age.
Marilyn-inspired look featuring platinum blond hair and stilettos? Check.
Arriving at the 2018 Venice Film Festival on a sailboat with one red rose in hand? Check.
Buying a mansion in the Hollywood Hills? Check.
Given that it’s grounded in a remarkably powerful performance, Gaga doesn’t so much play this role as inhabit it. It’s also fair to say that — even for a master of transformations and reinventions — this represents her boldest and most successful rebrand yet.
Taking a page from Lady Gaga’s branding story
Lady Gaga has a special genius for fusing styles, identities, and dexterously remixing the ideas and images of other famous artists (Madonna, David Bowie and David Byrne to name just a few).
Brands don’t have access to Gaga’s creative brilliance, but they can still learn important lessons about audience building, rebranding, and utilizing resources, such as a branding agency.
One example: Gaga’s connection with her fans is amazingly deep and powerful. In an era where fame is often fleeting and fickle, Gaga has built a global fan base numbering in the tens of millions. Her art isn’t solely responsible for this connection; Gaga is a master of using social media and other digital forms to interact and communicate with her fan base.
Gaga’s most ardent followers, whom she christened “Little Monsters,” are among the most passionate and devoted fans in the world. In every corner of the digital world, you’ll find them evangelizing on her behalf, defending her from critics and reveling in all things Gaga. In return, Lady Gaga showers them with affection, interacts with them personally across social platforms, and gives them exclusive access to songs and information.
Why is there such a fierce bond between this superstar and her fans? It’s the same reason why her rebranding efforts have been successful: Authenticity. Anyone (or any brand) can pivot on a dime; yet if this transformation isn’t grounded in something deep, real and true, fans (or consumers) aren’t going to respond.
Lady Gaga’s rebrand as Hollywood screen siren is rooted in her Oscar-worthy performance. Her previous transformations and incarnations were all rooted in her deep understanding of the musical and artistic traditions she was mining for inspiration.
For brands seeking to replicate that success, it’s a smart idea to follow the same framework: Build a meaningful connection with your audience, and ensure your rebrand is rooted in something authentic.
Finding the right branding agency
At BIGEYE, we’re big fans of Lady Gaga — but we’re even more entranced by the idea of helping businesses develop their own genius for branding. With some assistance from the right branding agency, we believe almost any business can build the audience it deserves.
Contact our branding team today to build your own following of little monsters and advance your brand!