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Next-Level Marketing Lessons From Kendrick Lamar

Next-Level Marketing Lessons From Kendrick Lamar

Donovan Roche

Donovan Roche

November 16, 2018

Here's how to build your brand like the iconic hip-hop star.

Brands need to eschew the desire to be all things to all people and focus instead on what sets them apart from the sea of sameness.

Entrepreneur

By Donovan Roche
Vice President, Growth at Havas Formula

Nov. 8, 2018

 

He’s won 119 awards from 288 nominations, including 12 Grammy Awards. He was the first rapper to win a Pulitzer Prize (for his 2017 album DAMN.), which has always gone to a classical or jazz artist. And he’s taken home a Cannes Lion and three Clios for his music videos. But, for Kendrick Lamar, the passion he puts into his music has never been for the acknowledgment. The shrewd businessman has captured widespread acclaim—and, more importantly, respect and admiration—by taking calculated steps to establish his brand from the ground-up. He hasn’t left anything to chance.

Others looking to put their brand on the map would be wise to borrow these next-level marketing lessons from the iconic hip-hop impresario:

Be authentic.

When you’re first starting out, it’s easy to be swayed by public opinion. Whether you’re an artist looking to break into the music scene or an entrepreneur hoping to get your business off the ground, you’re bound to seek the advice of those in the know. Hear what they have to say, but don’t allow their thoughts to steer you away from being true to yourself.

If Lamar is anything, it’s authentic. He writes (and raps) about poverty, violence, and corruption—the very things he experienced on the streets of Compton. Brands need to be equally steadfast, eschewing the desire to be all things to all people and focusing instead on that which sets them apart from the sea of sameness. Take, for example, Levi’s, which has built its 165-year-old brand on a platform of authenticity. Its promise of selling durable denim enabled the brand to become the clothing of choice among the working class and, ultimately, sub-cultures of young people throughout the decades.

When others go left, go right.

Everybody tends to get into a groove and stick with it. This can be a recipe for failure. Artists who take risks, constantly reinvent themselves (Lady Gaga learned this from Madonna) and challenge themselves to do it differently each outing (Prince subscribed to this approach), are the ones who keep fans engaged and carve out staying power.

In 2016, when Lamar released the surprise album untitled unmastered on iTunes and streaming platforms, he sold more than 178,000 copies the first week. While there’s nothing new about surprise albums, Lamar’s was unique in that it was comprised of raw material that didn’t make his preceding No. 1 album, To Pimp A Butterfly.

Entrepreneurs would likely never push an “unfinished” product into the consumer marketplace, but the lesson to be learned here is to be brave, challenge convention, and innovate. Just consider Blockbuster, which failed to innovate as upstart Netflix shipped DVDs to consumers’ homes. By resting on its laurels, Blockbuster dug its own grave, allowing Netflix to become the nearly $12 billion company it is today.

 

Read the full article

Brands need to eschew the desire to be all things to all people and focus instead on what sets them apart from the sea of sameness.

Entrepreneur

By Donovan Roche
Vice President, Growth at Havas Formula

Nov. 8, 2018

 

He’s won 119 awards from 288 nominations, including 12 Grammy Awards. He was the first rapper to win a Pulitzer Prize (for his 2017 album DAMN.), which has always gone to a classical or jazz artist. And he’s taken home a Cannes Lion and three Clios for his music videos. But, for Kendrick Lamar, the passion he puts into his music has never been for the acknowledgment. The shrewd businessman has captured widespread acclaim—and, more importantly, respect and admiration—by taking calculated steps to establish his brand from the ground-up. He hasn’t left anything to chance.

Others looking to put their brand on the map would be wise to borrow these next-level marketing lessons from the iconic hip-hop impresario:

Be authentic.

When you’re first starting out, it’s easy to be swayed by public opinion. Whether you’re an artist looking to break into the music scene or an entrepreneur hoping to get your business off the ground, you’re bound to seek the advice of those in the know. Hear what they have to say, but don’t allow their thoughts to steer you away from being true to yourself.

If Lamar is anything, it’s authentic. He writes (and raps) about poverty, violence, and corruption—the very things he experienced on the streets of Compton. Brands need to be equally steadfast, eschewing the desire to be all things to all people and focusing instead on that which sets them apart from the sea of sameness. Take, for example, Levi’s, which has built its 165-year-old brand on a platform of authenticity. Its promise of selling durable denim enabled the brand to become the clothing of choice among the working class and, ultimately, sub-cultures of young people throughout the decades.

When others go left, go right.

Everybody tends to get into a groove and stick with it. This can be a recipe for failure. Artists who take risks, constantly reinvent themselves (Lady Gaga learned this from Madonna) and challenge themselves to do it differently each outing (Prince subscribed to this approach), are the ones who keep fans engaged and carve out staying power.

In 2016, when Lamar released the surprise album untitled unmastered on iTunes and streaming platforms, he sold more than 178,000 copies the first week. While there’s nothing new about surprise albums, Lamar’s was unique in that it was comprised of raw material that didn’t make his preceding No. 1 album, To Pimp A Butterfly.

Entrepreneurs would likely never push an “unfinished” product into the consumer marketplace, but the lesson to be learned here is to be brave, challenge convention, and innovate. Just consider Blockbuster, which failed to innovate as upstart Netflix shipped DVDs to consumers’ homes. By resting on its laurels, Blockbuster dug its own grave, allowing Netflix to become the nearly $12 billion company it is today.

 

Read the full article

Over the last 22 years, Roche has helped grow Havas Formula from a small, four-person shop to an award-winning agency representing premier brands.

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