[A Lesson in Branding]: Lana Del Rey

I believe in the power of a [brand]. Not a fashion brand, but a brand, as in an embodiment of everything that a person, business, or product represents. The essence behind the entity. There’s a lot of power in a brand and learning to properly control it can take something average to amazing new levels. If you don’t believe me, look at Lizzy Grant… Wait, you probably wouldn’t know who Lizzy Grant is. Why? Her brand sucked. Instead, look at Lana Del Rey. She’s the same girl, only revamped and extraordinary.

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Now known as a “gangster Nancy Sinatra“, Lana Del Rey is the version 2.0 of her “hardly as dope” former self, Lizzy Grant, and this 24-year old alternative pop artist is a perfect example of what a good team and amazing branding can do for an artist, and ultimately for anyone or anything. This self-taught guitarist began her music career as Lizzy Grant, singing the same type of music as she does now, but not changing the game. She’s since gotten new management and reinvented her image (new clothes, new hair, new lips) to more appropriately fit her stage name, Lana Del Rey, and it looks like doors are beginning to open left and right.

Now, I’m not arguing that genuine realness isn’t important when it comes to artists and their work, but in today’s world of talentless mainstream success stories and artists talking about nothing but sex, money and drugs, I think I’d actually prefer to listen to a supposedly “unauthentic” artist with amazing talent and creative direction. In fact, she’s open about the changes that her management team has created; and why shouldn’t she be? They’re doing exactly what they’re being paid to do: make a star. While their strategy isn’t very discrete, as seen from her appearances at “pseudo-events” (events meant more to be publicized than enjoyed) and the openness about her drastically different ginger-brunette hair and cosmetically-enhanced lips, it’s working. Even without a formally released single on the market, she’s sold out shows in four of the world’s biggest cities within hours, been receiving tons of coverage left and right, and is expected to be one of the biggest new names in music for 2011.

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When you think about it in a larger perspective, the music industry has never really been well-known for letting new artists be themselves right off the back. Sadly, it’s about profitability and dollar signs, not art. That’s why Stephanie Germanotta (now known as Lady Gaga) and Katy Hudson (you might know her better as Katy Perry) didn’t go anywhere. Even Kanye West and Rihanna started their careers as completely different people. It takes time to get to an area in the entertainment industry where you can be yourself. Fans want to be entertained, first and foremost. If you prove you can do that, people just might like you for who you are later.

With Lana Del Rey, it’s no different. She had to drop Lizzy Grant and try something new. Although some [overly-dramatic] blogs have been attacking her, I commend her for learning some of the basic elements of branding. She has all the talent, from her voice to the direction she puts into her videos; all she needed was the right brand. Now that she’s got it, the sky’s the limit. Her first single (as Lana) is Video Games, which has been getting a lot of great reception on music blogs across the globe. The track is expected to be released on October 16th as a part of an EP named after the song and also featuring Blue Jeans, another single that’s been doing just as well. You can check out Video Games below, as well as her self-directed video for Blue Jeans, which gives you a taste of her love for the hip-hop culture and vintage 1950s cinematography. I’m serious when I say Lana Del Rey is dope. There’s something special about this girl and I’m excited to see how she continues to develop her brand from here.

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[Video Games]
[Lana Del Rey]
[Video Games - EP]

YouTube Preview Image[Blue Jeans]
[Lana Del Rey]
[Video Games - EP]