Brand Like Adele
Do what you do best, and be yourself while you do it. By Taryn Hardes.
Adele is singular. Only she is so appealing and talented that she can transcend the boundaries of a typical celebrity. There is no target demographic for Adele. There are no fangirls. There isn’t even really a raging social media audience — yes, she has 10 million Instagram followers and 26 million Twitter followers (casual), but those channels aren’t essential to her brand. There is only her voice, and her delightfully grounded personality — and the millions of people around the world that waited for 5 years for her latest album, 25. The album has sold over 8 million copies since its fall release. Her 2016 international tour sold out in minutes, and an estimated 10 million people tried to get buy tickets for the US leg.
Adele, as my colleague Jane Hope so eloquently put it, is one of two generational talents working in pop music today (the other is Beyonce). However, for Adele, unlike Queen B, her public persona seems effortless. Here’s how you can brand like Adele.
Do what you do best
Adele, unlike so many of her contemporaries, such as Beyonce, Taylor Swift, and Rihanna, exclusively focuses her career on one thing — her brand is her music, and nothing else. She has literally no sponsorships, partnerships, brand extensions, or products. She’s not a spokesperson. She doesn’t collaborate with brands. The product she sells is her music — through iTunes, Google Play, on CD, and on vinyl. She famously refused to stream 25 on Spotify when it was released, and as of writing, the album has still not appeared on the streaming service. Further, refusing streaming services may have contributed to her record-breaking first week sales, which totalled 3.38 million copies of the album.
Adele does what she does best. Any brand can learn from that premise — it’s important to remember the roots of your business, and prioritize that product or service. Only when you’ve perfected it (and let’s get real, Adele’s pegged her musical abilities) should you expand or diversify your brand and products — but only if you need or want to do it.
Take the time to do things right
When Adele finished her tour for 21 in 2011, it was assumed her next album would quickly follow, to capitalize on the success of her first two albums. However, the years passed, and it wasn’t until Adele was 27 that her next album debuted. Through the promotion of the album and the ongoing tour, it’s been suggested that Adele collaborated with big names such as Wiz Khalifa, Phil Collins, and Sia for 25. However, none of them appear on the album. Adele refused to settle for anything less than perfection on the album, and as a result, has one of the fastest selling albums in the internet age.
Your brand can follow suit — patience is a virtue, and doing something right takes time.
Adele, despite being a global celebrity and a valuable brand, is also a 26-year-old mom. She’s witty, goofy, and swears like a sailor. She’s modest. She’s funny. And despite the fact that I totally believe that this is who Adele is, it’s also true that a publicist probably strategically encouraged a certain persona for the star — but it’s been very effective. It started during the promotion of 25, when Adele participated in Carpool Karaoke on The Late Late Show with James Corden. Humour breeds relateability, and this video did exactly that for Adele’s brand. Rather than the emotional, heartbroken Adele we hear in 19 and 21, this new Adele, while still full of serious emotion on her record, is light-hearted and thrilled with her life.
Adele remains authentic through the good and the bad. Her GRAMMYs performance — the most anticipated performance of the night, despite 25 not being eligible for the awards — took a poor turn, and Adele responded with honesty, integrity, and of course, humour.
Adele is unique in her industry for her approach to branding her music — ironic, really. She focuses exclusively on her product, and the result is music to her audience’s ears.