Collaborate with people with lived experiences
Renaissance is a joyful ode to queer culture, inspired by and dedicated to Beyoncé’s late gay uncle, Johnny (the one she references in the song, “Heated”: “Uncle Johnny made my dress. That cheap spandex she looks a mess”). Most importantly, rather than simply create a handful of wannabe gay anthems, Beyoncé collaborated with some of the music industry’s most respected queer artists, including New Orleans rapper Big Freedia, R&B artist Sydney Bennett and DJ Honey Dijon, who co-wrote two tracks.
For so many brands that are trying to hit diversity and inclusion KPIs, this is how to do it in an authentic, genuine way.
Content is king
Whether it’s drip-feeding lush imagery on social media to give fans just a taste of what’s to come on the album, uploading handwritten messages (like when the album was mysteriously leaked two days early), tackling controversial topics, or getting vulnerable and digging into her personal life and marital issues as a source of inspiration (her previous album Lemonade is a masterclass in this), Beyoncé knows how to weave multi-layered stories and invite her fans into her world.
Basically, Beyoncé’s not just trying to get people to listen to her songs on Spotify or buy her album, she’s creating tight-knit connections with her most devoted followers.
Create your own Beyhive
No-one messes with the Beyhive. This is the tight-knit community of die-hard Beyoncé fans that the artist has nurtured and cultivated throughout her career – and they’ll come to her defence if anyone should wrong her (like Jay-Z).
As marketing expert Tim Wood explains: “Beyoncé clearly has a principle of understanding what her fans want; their unspoken hopes, dreams and fears. Then she finds a way to give it to them at full throttle – pure Beyoncé.
“What can other brands learn from this and apply in their business? The consumer decides. When brands reorientate their thinking to be consumer-centric, as opposed to being led by product or innovation, they unlock how their brand can be relevant to the people that pay. That’s what Beyoncé has done better than most.”
Surprise and delight
Ever since she randomly dropped her self-titled album with no hint of promotion back in 2013, which came accompanied with videos for each track, the Beyhive knows that when it comes to Beyoncé, expect the unexpected. Beyoncé also knows how to use restraint and mystery to her advantage, which only increases fans’ curiosity. Case in point: she may have appeared on the cover of British Vogue this year, but editor-in-chief Edward Enninful didn’t so much as get a word out of her for an interview.
Indeed, there is certainly a multitude of lessons that all businesses can glean from her successful career to date, whether it’s knowing when to say goodbye (like when she left Destiny’s Child), how to successfully work with your partner on a project (even if he’s suspected of cheating, like the Everything is Love album she did with husband Jay-Z), or how to create brand extensions (her famous Coachella show turned into the Homecoming Netflix documentary, which then turned into an album).
See you on the dancefloor.