I have a huge smile on my face as I’m thinking about what you and Google are going to think about the blog title. Yep. It’s me saying you can learn a few things from Lady Gaga. Take a deep breath and plunge with me (if you need to, you can skip down to the Disclaimers section before reading further).
Lady Gaga was not on my radar in any way until a couple of weeks ago. Logical-I love music but I’m a bit out of Lady Gaga’s target demographic. Here’s how I discovered Lady Gaga: the girls in my life keep me in touch with television through Tivo. I was watching American Idol with them a few weeks ago (OK, I was reading and American Idol was on).
The guest artist was Lady Gaga. No idea who she was, but I looked up to see this woman in a huge black veil with male dancers in 1950’s bathing suits singing about Alejandro (candidly I wasn’t sure if she was happy or sad about this Alejandro dude). Anyway, I asked the experts in the living room and they gave me the rundown: said she was sorta like Madonna, but not really. Didn’t think any more about it until I was catching up on Glee with our 13-year-old daughter.
A recent Glee episode had a lot of Lady Gaga, a lot. Nearly all the songs were Lady Gaga songs…and somehow they managed to get almost everyone dressed like Lady Gaga. Which I have to tell you is something of a fashion statement. I rewound a couple of times to listen to lyrics (most of which made me nervous). OK, Lady Gaga’s on my radar but mostly from a parenting standpoint if you get my drift.
Then I’m running through the Fast Company website this morning… guess who’s Fast Company’s Number 1 most creative person in business? Yep. Lady Gaga. Number 1.
Next thing I know I’m on the Lady Gaga website…and trying to figure this out. If you didn’t know, Lady Gaga is a huge marketing success. Huge. Gaga has her demographic all “gaga” over her. And that’s something I can learn from.
DISCLAIMERS, Let’s get the disclaimers out of the way, OK? I’m not saying that you or your children should emulate Lady Gaga’s lifestyle in any way. I’m not even saying you should listen to her music or watch her videos. I personally do not like a lot of what Lady Gaga represents. I’m not saying anything except you and I could learn a thing or two from Stefani Germanotta’s branding strategies.
That’s the first thing we need to learn:
Brand Name. Lady Gaga was born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. She even recorded under that huge but forgettable name (and had a band: “The Stefani Germanotta Band”). I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t be discussing her if she’d have stuck with that name. A producer’s autocorrect mistake while texting is credited with the inspiration for Lady Gaga. You have to give Stefani credit for recognizing a good, good brand name when it was texted to her.
And you have to think about your brand name. We’ve worked with clients where the organization really was built around one person. They literally were the brand. On the other hand, most clients are really organizations led by individuals. Either way, your name is everything.
Say you have a common, plain or hard to pronounce name. Like maybe “Steve Thomas” or Oneicity or you’re a Rescue Mission (with “Union” in the name, maybe). You’ve got a Stefani Germanotta problem. I won’t recommend you change your name, but Lady Gaga and I would tell you that you have to find a way to hook your name into the mind of your supporters and constituents.
Assuming you won’t get a text message with the perfect brand name in it, what to do?
Well you can take what you do and connect that with your name. A great example of that is our friends over at Union Mission in West Virginia. Union Mission’s website is: WeFeedPeople.com. Any doubts about what they do? Or the basic concept of their mission? And the colors on their website are not traditional “mission” colors either. Everything about that screams we’re not like any of the other 1,000 Union Missions out there. Good for them.
So you have to think about how you will take your name and attach a powerful image, emotion or action to it.
“We save lives.”
“Rebuilding broken lives…”
Maybe you’re like everyone else but you’re very, very local.
You get the idea. The big mistake to make here is to assume that everyone else has a Stefani Germanotta problem but you don’t.
Oh, and another great way to solve a Stefani Germanotta problem–use disruption. That’s one of the reasons I write crazy blog posts like this one: Oneicity, Steve Thomas and Lady Gaga. Not exactly what you were expecting. Disruption is tricky, more on that later in the Gaga series.
Next time we’ll talk image and fashion lessons for your organization from Lady Gaga. I don’t know about you but I’m digging those bird cage hats!
So what about you? Did you learn anything from Stefani? How have you addressed the name problem either personally or in your organization? I love hearing what you think.
(photo credit:Justin Higuchi