What the Biebs Knows About Marketing in Uncertain Times

Justin Bieber knows a thing or two about marketing. And no. I’m not talking about the monkey on the airplane stunt. I mean pure brand-building marketing.

I love music and I ❤️ musicians even more. I’ve been watching them on IG and some of them are killing it right now. Eddie Vedder, Chris Martin, Jack Johnson, John Legend and, of course, the Biebs. They’re doing it by going live and responding to, engaging with, and inviting some of their fans into the video with them. They’re welcoming their fans literally into their homes and their lives for no reason other than to connect. No selling. No promo. Just connection. 💥

Hey brand managers. Listen up. You want to gain traction for your brand right now, at a time when your competitors are turtling or playing it safe? Do like the musicians do.

BE GREAT. You have to have a great product. For a musician, you have to know how to sing! All the musicians that got by with lip syncing are freaking out right now. It’s come home to roost. There’s no autotune plugin for IG live! Sorry. You should have stuck with those voice lessons. Outed!

BE HUMBLE. Don’t believe the hype. Ego gets in the way for a lot of musicians as they start to get attention on their way to fame and fortune. Insert airplane monkey here. Lucky for us (okay, maybe just me and your 12-year-old daughters!), the Biebs came back down off that cloud.

BE TRUE. Going live on social is the great equalizer. The musicians that have kept it real on the way up can do this. They are always true to the brand. No takes. No scripts. It’s the opposite of that perfectly curated and styled IG feed. Honest. Open. For a brand, allowing a spokesperson to speak their own words, from their own head and their own heart, will build great brand equity. Not just right now, but ESPECIALLY right now.

BE VULNERABLE. You don’t have to have it all figured out before you begin. And it's okay to admit that! I love watching them fumble around as the comments come in. “Hey babe, they can’t hear me. What do I do?” or when they start reading the comments, “Why does this guy keep posting the same comment? Hey, choppedliver4856, can you stop that so I can see other people’s comments?” This is a BIG one for brands. We aren't big on vulnerability. We like control. Curating content. Perfectly orchestrated video. Top quality. Full production. Remember where you came from. Tap back into that. Remember the first few customers. How excited you got. You likely called them or DM’d them yourself to ask them how they liked the product! Go back there. Expose your brand's heart a little. PS. Sara Blakely is the master. I might have to write a post about her. Take the Black Friday Spanx sale. She answers customer support calls. It’s like the ultimate marketing punk! Customers go bananas! 🤩

BE REAL. Go on IG and see for yourself. Messy hair. Plates with food on them in the background. A kid bombing the video. Background noise. This is the stuff! No filters. No makeup. No stylist. No handlers. The musicians that can do this are the ones that have maintained creative agency over their brands. The ones that are in trouble are the people that haven’t dressed themselves for decades. They don’t know what they like. They know their “brand” better than they know themselves. Big trouble. Identity crisis in the making.

For brands, if your personality is the kind that would wear the same jeans and hoodie every day, then do that. Be that. But don’t do it because Zuck does it. Don't copy your competitors. Do it because that’s who your brand is. Don’t try to be. Just be.

The bigger the brand, the scarier this is. Publicly traded company? Even harder. The higher the stakes, the more calculated our brand risks become until it’s so watered down that we forget its flavour.

Great brands hold the line as they grow. They stay great, humble, curious, vulnerable, and real.

Branding isn’t a zero-sum game. We can build profitable brands, even during tough times, by staying true to our roots, keeping a close connection to our customers. That's how storms are weathered.

This idea does scale. Look no further than Spanx. Patagonia. Apple. Virgin. West Jet. Disney. Four Seasons. The unicorn big brands. They kept the magic while they rode the revenue wave and you know what that got them? Sustainable brands that can weather the storms.

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Brands that were built on the sand are having a hard time in these stormy seas. Those that built their brand on the rock are doing just fine. In fact, they’re relaxed. Tucked into their house sitting by the fire dreaming up ways to delight their customers. They’re not worried. They’ve weathered storms before. Their strategy is simple. Just keep doing what we’re doing.


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