Branding and Storytelling: the Beyonce Way
Revised after our twin babies were announced!
So before you read the full blog post, read this: I know you’re over the Lemonade think pieces and the speculations on whether or not Jay cheated or Beyonce is just chasing after album and tour sales. This has nothing to do with any of that.
I’m a card carrying Beyhive member. I’ve loved Beyonce since her Destiny’s Child days and always listened to her music, but it wasn’t until “4” that I was seriously impressed with her albums. Hearing her sing “1 +1” and “Love on Top” made me wish my own love life wasn’t a puzzle. And again, listening to her on “Pray You Catch Me” caught me completely off guard. What happened to the sweet, sensual love? I was so caught up in Bey’s love life in her albums that like everyone else, I was looking for the Becky who toyed with her relationship.
Seeing her in concert in 2016 solidified it for me: I stan for Beyonce. In my opinion, there’s not a better female performer out right now. But there’s also not many other female music artists that tell their story quite like she does. It’s mysterious, it’s breathtaking and it’s made the world stop and stare at her, Jay and Rachael Roy/Ray.
But HOW does she do it? But how does she do IT? Both are two completely different questions and I have a very simple answer: She's mastered performance storytelling.
Her story did that. She’s not exactly an open book but she’s an interesting book. She’s not the most transparent celebrity and often we’re left guessing what she’s thinking, but I don’t mind that. We don’t know how Beyonce likes to spend her Tuesday mornings or if she’s even a morning person. She chooses moments to let us in and it’s usually through music, rather it’s completely based on her life, we’ll never know.
Hearing her say “I pray you catch me listening” made her more human. “Why can’t you see me, everyone else can” made her transparent. Watching her on stage pour her all into “1+1” left me in awe of the kind of love and emotion she pushed behind her words. Seeing her push her African roots and femininity in her performances as been a pleasant change and it's left an even bigger impact on her audience of black women who are even more proud of their culture and their power as black women.
The message Bey gives off is "I am a strong black woman and I will not lessen myself to make you feel comfortable" and the theme runs rampant in her performances and her music.
A huge part of branding and business is connecting to your audience emotionally. Before you have a pretty website and graphics, is the message itself connecting to anyone? Just by watching Beyonce sing “1+1” on her knees on stage I could tell you that she’s experienced some love that I haven’t even tapped into yet. I received the message and it was also beautifully packaged.
Is your audience saying the same thing about your brand? Are you reeling them in by focusing on what they want and need (or even things that they hadn't thought of)?
If Beyonce didn’t have heart-wrenching lyrics on Lemonade, the visuals wouldn’t have had such an impact. The visuals brought it all together and it further solidifies that Beyonce’s team is outstanding.
Just because I’m still in awe, let’s go over some crazy marketing things Beyonce has done just since January 2016. Did you catch the sales funnel and flow Beyonce did to get us to the point of commenting bees and lemon emojis on Rachael Ray’s Instagram? It was BRILLIANT.
1. She released the video for "Formation" and had us wondering if she would perform it at the Super Bowl- looking back she was definitely getting us ready for the stream of powerful visuals in Lemonade and the exclusivity that was to come- "Formation" didn’t drop on TV and was tough to find without the link in the very beginning
2. She performed at the super bowl and performed "Formation" with drums that strategically displayed the Ivy Park logo- look back at the stills from the performance, her team is on fire
3. She then announced her tour during a super bowl commercial- Most of which are held at stadiums with priority over actual sporting events, that in itself is epic and makes complete sense why she announced the tour during a huge sporting event
4. She released Ivy Park- At this point we’ve already bought our tour tickets and are anxious for an album and another reason to throw coins at her and she collected them for a leisure active-wear brand none of us really need
5. She then announced the HBO special entitled Lemonade- This left us wondering why in the world it was even called Lemonade and if it was the album because at this point she was just playing with our emotions
6. She released Lemonade (the visuals) and shifted us from the exclusivity of HBO to Tidal. She wasn't playing with she said she was the black Bill Gates in the making.
7. She finally released Lemonade the album and collected our edges in a velvet collection plate
This flow of releases didn’t happen over night nor was it planned over night. It was only because she let us in with her story at the end with Lemonade, we didn’t even mind the original torture of waiting for a surprise album drop.
With a record amount of over 10 million likes (and counting) as the most liked Instagram post EVER on her pregnancy announcement, she did it again.
I’ve told pieces of my story and will continue to because for one: I’m not untouchable and two: my audience is made of other women just like me. I knew the audience I wanted to speak to long before I began TBH. I spend time trying to make my life make sense just like the next person and somehow in the process, I created The Bronze Hustle. I had no intentions of creating TBH anytime soon or maybe not even in 2016. I just wanted to go to work everyday, enjoy my job and (eventually) make good money.
But God had other plans and I had been avoiding advancing my blog for far too long. I had to stop and listen to my gut. TBH came to me and in the midst of craziness, I created something beautiful and I want you to know I pour my heart into it.
Just like Beyonce does in her every performance, I want every blog post on TBH to resonate. I want my words to evoke something and in the process give you insight on my daily grind and story. Whatever your "something" is. Rather it’s following your dreams and starting your own blog or jumping to your next more exciting destination. Maybe your something is creating a stronger presence for your work online or on social media and landing better opportunities. I hope that every single one of you gets that something you need and if you need to cut people and let them know they won’t be interrupting your grinding.
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Author: Shay Duriel Davis, the Creator of The Bronze Hustle and Hustle Hive Elite