Social Media creates enormous scale and enormous speed in markets. This is important for a marketer as they create strong brands. Because of social media, the entire infrastructure of markets and brands change, sometimes overnight. This is why re-positioning a brand is a skill that a marketer in the social media era has to possess. A marketer must re-brand their products in a social media era. In addition to this, a marketer has to to keep his brand strong in their old markets. A beer brand was able to do this with historic commercials in the “70s….”tastes great, no less filling” How is this complicated, rebranding done?
The best way to illustrate this is an example from the American Civil War. The first Union general on the scene at Gettysburg was a man named General John Buford. Buford realized that the original fire fight on the battle’s first day was not important. He realized that to win the larger battle (the larger market), he would have to retreat and reposition his troops on the high hills around Gettysburg.
In the same way, the speed of social media forces a marketer to leave markets, and rebrand their products. A great example of how this is done is by looking at a brand in R & B music and how this brand has decided to reposition itself to adjust to a fast changing market.
The brand that we are following will be called K. K has a strong brand in ballad and Gospel music. The demographic for this brand is kids. The music of R &B has evolved. The most lucrative market is now dance R&B. The demographic for this market is young professionals, ages 18-34. This group’s demographics revolve around a more mature group. To create music for this group that communicates, K knows that she will have to create more mature material in both her songs and her videos.
This creates a dilemma for K. It is a dilemma that many contemporary marketers must face. How do you straddle two brands at once? You have created a strong brand in one market that you want to keep—but your brand has to expand if it is to succeed in the future.
Creativity is used by K to not only straddle her two brands, but to create an entrance into another demographic and brand. There is also another issue that K has to deal with in her branding. Strong brands have to be consistent. They have to be recognized by their customers. Consistency is very hard to accomplish in a social media era. To her younger demographic, K has become a role model, and K has embraced this role. Her new music is mature and shouldn’t be listened to by younger people. How can K signal that her new brand is not to be embraced by her younger listeners?
In her new song, K has decided to employ a Grammy winning rapper in both her video and her song. Her use of this wrapper re-creates a brand for her, but still allows her to straddle her old brand. This rapper is well-known for very explicit lyrics. Explicit lyrics are a critical part of this rapper’s brand. This sends a signal to parents. By using this rapper, K signals to parents that her new music shouldn’t be embraced by kids (but the parents can listen, without the kids, if they want!!!!!). An interesting observation about her use of the rapper is that in their duet, the rapper does not have much face time in either the song or the video. They don’t appear together in the video. A signal is being sent by K. The signal is that K is creating a separation between this rapper and herself. This separation is important in K defining her brand.
The use of the rapper gives K brand strength in several areas. This rapper is well-known with a huge following. His presence brands the song. One of the top music programs of television is on a cable network which targets an urban audience. The presence of this rapper insures that K will have heavy rotation on this program. It also insures that K will be able to create a new brand in the large Urban R&B market. A fast moving market has allowed K to rebrand herself and expand into 2 new, large, important markets, while keeping her brand strong in the old markets.