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Branding Cassadee Pope

I have to first say that I am a big fan of The Voice.  While American Idol is also entertaining for me, I’ve become spoiled by the fact that most of the contestants on The Voice are already working musicians.  It shows in the quality of the performances.

However, it also adds a bit of complexity to the show, where established artists are challenged by the coaches on who they are, what they are good at, and what kind of artist they want to be when they “grow up”.  But the biggest question, in my mind, is what does the audience want them to be when they grow up.

Enter Cassadee Pope.  Young, aspiring singer, band member, rocker.  She comes on the show with aspirations of being like Avril Lavigne.  But, she picks Blake Shelton as her coach.  Self-proclaimed hillbilly, this seemed like an interesting match.  What happened next is a great lesson in branding.

Blake recognized Cassadee’s singing abilities.  He also knows country music really, really well.  And, when it came down to the wire, he coached (convinced, I imagine) Cassadee to sing country music.  One show, she seemed visibly frustrated with singing another country song – but she did it anyway, trusting in her coach.  He was right – what he knew, and she soon learned, is that your brand is strongest when it matches what your audience wants it to be.  It sure seemed like the audience wanted her to be a country start (I secretly do).  She landed both of those country songs as the iTunes #1 song.

The lesson for us in marketing is that we need stop thinking that our brand is what we want it to be.  It can only be strong if it represents what our audience (customers and prospects) want it to be.  Of course, the brand promise has to hold true in this situation as well – and to Cassadee’s benefit, she CAN sing country music, and in my opinion, really, really well (I bought both of her #1 songs on iTunes).

And, in support of the thousands of marketing and branding agencies out there, sometimes we need an external coach to help us understand how our audience really does see us, or what they want us to be.  I’ll reference a comment from an earlier blog about “B2Me” marketing from White Rhino as a great way to peer into the minds of your audience.

Let’s be encouraged by Cassadee’s success on the show to remind ourselves how building the strongest brand is more a function of our audience and not as much our internal view of what we want our brand to represent.  As marketers, we must be open to feedback from the market and our “coaches” along the way – it will only strengthen our brand.   And then we can bask in the glory of success.

  1. Ginger Shimp
    December 19, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    Awesome and insightful post as always. I love it when your country roots show. I think intrinsic in what you’re saying is that we need to do our research so that we can fill the needs of our target audience. On a tangent, repositioning a brand is really tough — “Not your father’s Oldsmobile” — and can only be done if you have the proof points clearly laid out. But now I’m digressing. Thanks for the great post!

  2. December 19, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    Ginger – thanks for the comments! Yes, you are very right. Fortunately (I guess :-\) for Cassadee, she wasn’t nationally recognized under the “rocker” branding, so changing her brand will certainly be easier, especially with the help of The Voice. I hope she sticks to the country genre – rocker country is great, it works these days. The proof points are critical as well – definitely a challenging exercise. That’s why marketing is so fun, right?! Thanks again for the dialogue!

  3. December 19, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Love the connection! If you’ve also been keeping up with the X Factor, you’ll have noticed a trend of country music stars dominating the votes on these talent shows. I think it’s no coincidence that country music is rooted in the art of storytelling – another essential skill in the marketer’s tool belt. Country music allows the audience to connect more emotionally with singers like Cassadee and Tate Stevens – whether they are a country music fan or not.

  4. December 19, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    Great point, Teri! Storytelling is a critical part of a brand as well. We see this with Apple and IBM (Smarter Planet). Very nice. Thanks for the comment!

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