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The Miley Cyrus Model: A Twerking Lesson in Branding and Image.


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Now for the conservative folk, this may not be a post you will want to read. On the other hand, if you are even a bit curious about what Miley Cyrus could possibly offer to business development, please stay tuned. I promise it’ll be worth it or at least interesting.

She is a tabloid headliner, world record holder on Twitter, and not even old enough to drink, but Miley Cyrus isn’t just the viral example of “good girl gone bad”. Rather she is a peculiar case study of rebranding, marketing, and understanding your image. Of course I must insert a disclaimer here. Everything I am about to say is derived completely from my personal observation and comparison, and even though this may be a stretch, I think it makes for an unusual analogy in the least.

So what does Miss Miley have to offer us as managers, entrepreneurs, creatives and employees? To begin–I want to paint a picture. Most of us know that Miley Cyrus began as a tween pop sensation on the hit show: Hannah Montana. From that she (and the help of an outstanding marketing team) turned a simple bubbly sitcom into a mega million dollar brand built upon world tours, movies, music, toys, games, costumes, and the list goes on and on. Miley Cyrus was a household name. Fast forwarding, she continued to put out hit after hit song and had a few successful movies along the way.

Branding and Image
© Flickr User AlexKormisPS (ALM)

However in 2012, success began to taper off and her songs weren’t climbing the charts as high. So in a bold move, she decided to chop off her hair, bleach it and completely erase everything we thought defined “Miley Cyrus”.

And that’s where we can begin to make the business connection. So to make things nice, simple and sweet–I’ve made a small list of 3 lessons the Cyrus rebrand can show business and it’s not just how to stick your tongue out.

Branding and Image
© Flickr User StarblindKing

3. Twerking. Don’t be afraid to go against the grain.
I’m pretty sure everyone’s jaws dropped to the floor during her infamous MTV VMA performance with Robin Thicke, but if taken a step back, there is something quite interesting. Miley isn’t afraid to take a risk. She is defying the “twerking stereotype” and shredding every ounce of her Southern Belle roots. She is redefining herself in the most elaborate and extreme way possible. But hey, if things aren’t selling, change it up–and that’s exactly what she did.

2. Confidence is Key
In many Cyrus interviews post her “We Can’t Stop” video and VMA performance (yes, I watched them) anyone can easily tell that she stands by her actions. She is proud of the image she is creating and never wavers from it. This is the new Miley, and if you don’t like it, look away. Business can relate to that. We have to be confident in our product, our employees, our services and how we handle everyday interactions whether that is in social media, meetings, presentations, etc. People react to confidence, in fact, they respect it, and sometimes it does matter what it is, as long as you stand by it through and through.

1. Consistency—Keep to your Brand and Build It Strong.
Now, even though it’s only been a year since the new Miley emerged, she has kept to it and has built it to being more than just a bleached pixie cut. She has a new photography style, type treatment, sound, clothing, attitude, facial expressions and it goes on and on. With business, if you decide to rebrand or change policy you have to commit and never look back, unless you’re The Gap (we all remember that rebrand–yikes) you also want to really go for it. Look at your business/brand with both a microscope and a telescope. Look at it front ways, side ways, and zig zag ways. You want to fully embrace your brand and all that it is–something Miley has down pat.

Alright–so I warned you, this was a bit of a stretch. Although, I think some of the ties combine well, or at least enough for my liking. I am not saying I agree with every decision she makes, but I commend her commitment to her image and its overhaul. Just like any rebrand or business, I am intrigued to see what the future holds whether it is the good, the bad, and the Miley.

Now who’s ready to twerk back to work? Just kidding!

Bethany Shepard is a recent graduate of the Herron School of Art & Design and is currently a copywriter and email marketer at xiik marketing. She lives in Indianapolis with her favorite cat, Mr. Boo and always has a fresh cup of coffee. You can find her on Twitter, LinkedIn, and the xiik website.

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Wed, October 23 2013 » Corporate Culture, Leadership

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