Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber have been household names since the first time the world heard them sing. We watched them progress from cute child stars created by the Disney machine, with a helping hand from YouTube, into the mega stars they are today. One of the most amazing aspects of these two stars is the strength of their personal brands. Starting out as wholesome role models and turning into boundary-pushing young adults can put a lot of stress on the teams that work so hard to create their $150 million+ careers.
So how did they do it?
The simple answer: killer PR and Marketing teams. Every blunder was met with a way to make money off of it and every high point was put on a pedestal. Through my extensive research (AKA my obsession with celebrity brands) I have found 5 major take aways from Justin and Miley that can help everyone create the strongest possible brand; be it for yourself or for your business.
1. Know your audience and treat loyalists as royalty
Cyrus and Bieber have two very different ways of going about making their fans feel special. Bieber is known for bringing a fan on stage at his concerts and singing his song "One Less Lonely Girl" to them, giving them flowers and ultimately making them cry like babies. He also known for reaching out to fans on social media, something that many celebrities do not do. Where as Cyrus has chosen to support her large LGBTQ fan base by starting The Happy Hippie Foundation, which aims to help homeless and LGBTQ youth. Both great ways to make fans feel special, but I think we have a clear winner with this one.
2. Create a one-of-a-kind experience for customers
3. Don't be afraid to change, but do it strategically
One thing Miley and Justin have always had in common is their great hair. And more importantly, when and how they went about changing their beloved hairdos.
In 2011, Justin's team decided it was time for him to go from baby-faced child star to full on heart throb, he cut his hair and debuted it on the Ellen DeGeneres show, and then auctioned off a lock of hair for charity. This was a beautifully executed PR move that gave meaning to a meaningless hair cut. It also reintroduced Justin as someone who is quickly becoming an adult, without leaving his tween niche feeling like they are left in the dust.
Miley went about it a little differently, and it got her quite a bit of flack at first. In 2012, she chopped off her long locks unexpectedly and started sporting the short platinum cut we know and love today. This was during a time of personal troubles for Cyrus, as she called off her engagement and lost one of her pets in the same year. This hair cut gave birth to the wild and crazy Miley that we are experiencing these days, and thus launching her rebrand.
4. Drink the Hateorade
Miley and Justin have had their fair share of bad press. From Miley being caught on camera smoking Salvia in 2012, to her raunchy VMA performance in 2013. Not to mention Bieber doing literally everything wrong in 2013: egging his neighbors house, driving intoxicated, drinking and using drugs while under age, street racing. You name it, he messed it up. Both celebs took the hate in stride; Miley decided to say f*ck it and do whatever she wanted, AKA her newest studio album Bangerz, while Justin got his ass handed to him in the Comedy Central Roast of Justin Bieber. Both came out the other side with even more fans than they had before, and not a dime lost in damages (except for the lawyer bills, that is).
Bad press is all about how you handle it, so take it from Miley and Justin and be able to make fun of yourself. Also, there is no shame in admitting you were wrong, but try to generate a more convincing apology then Bieber did at the end of his Roast.
5. Exposure and market saturation is key to a brands longevity
Can you even remember the last time you went more than a day without hearing one of these celebrity's names? Since the days of Hannah Montana and Radio Disney, Bieber and Cyrus never let us go too long without seeing something that relates to them. As long as we're still talking about them, they will continue to be the shining stars of personal brand strength that they are today. Long live Biebs and Smiley.