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What brands can learn from Jay-Z

You might not like his music as much as I do, but apart from the fact he himself is a fantastic brand, there’s a lot more to learn from Jay-Z. So what’s his magic? Evolutionary change In my view there’s a couple of things the Jigga does extremely well:

CHANGE Nobody likes an artist that stands still. It’s actually kinda sad. Same goes for brands. Innovation is key. Standing still is going backward. Microsoft, Sony both are companies that were once on top of the world and are now still good companies but not in that same league anymore. Apple, Nike, Google are the new stars, Coca Cola has been part of that league for many many years. But only because they keep innovating. Always.

EVOLUTIONISE Don’t revolutionise – thus respecting the fans he already has build up (in FMCG terms: build frequency), but at the same time tapping into new fan pools (penetration), by keep on renewing. Brands also need to evolve without changing too much. Retailbrand Tesco constantly renews and evolves its brand, by adding new exclusive products which big consumer brands are jealous about; at the same time though the supermarket chain stays true to its current mass consumer, who are trying to save money in these economic hard times.

SMART CO-BRANDING He uses other artists very wisely and selectively to fuel his change; artists who are at the top of their game at that moment. This way his style constantly evolves and he incorporates (smaller or larger) style elements from them. In 2002 he collaborated with (future wife) R&B diva Beyonce and cross over sing and songwriter Lenny Kravitz. In 2004 he teamed with rockers Linkin Park. At the end of the 0s he did songs with his longer time protege Rihanna and legendary britpop band Coldplay. He stays on top of his game by using his own super strong brand and adding some extra new cool shine from the others. Brands should much more do that as well. Apple Watch and Nike+ is a good example from a consumer brand point of view. But Harley Davidson and Best Western and others have done it as well.

Apart from the above Shawn Carter looks for other domains to strengthen his own brand or to make money to fuel other business areas. Of course a well known fact is his deal with Samsung, which gives Samsung and edge in its rivalry with Apple, whilst Samsung nowadays is cool enough to not damage the Jay brand. But he also owns clothing brand Rocawear with an estimated turnover of 700mln dollar dollar bills yo, which makes him more fashionable and increases his income as well.

What a great story on a kid who started off with a hard knock life. And a lot to learn from by brands. But remember: he does all of the above! That’s what makes him one of the greatest artists, businesses and brands right now.

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