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Personal Branding Lessons from Lady Gaga

Attending the Grammy awards in Los Angeles earlier this month, I had the opportunity to rub elbows with some of the brightest stars in show business. While I’ve often talked about the importance of personal branding in the world of celebrities and entertainment, I was again reminded just how well Lady Gaga markets herself. Even in her glamorous world, Lady Gaga manages to stand apart from the crowd. And while she is a talented performer, she’s not the best ever. There is more to her rise to fame than simply her musical abilities. Below are some of the personal branding lessons we can all learn from Lady Gaga:

1) Live your brand 24/7. Everybody knows about the outrageous costumes Lady Gaga wears to award shows and her performances. But unlike many celebrities, Lady Gaga stays in character virtually all of the time. She doesn’t present herself as a performer who dresses up in goofy costumes from time to time, she instead portrays herself as a unique and creative artist who lives her entire life outside the box.

2) Create your own publicity. Lady Gaga is constantly in the news. Why? Because she puts herself there. Whether it is stunts, like showing up to the Grammy awards inside an egg, or controversial interviews, Lady Gaga makes sure she is always being talked about. The lesson? Don’t wait for branding opportunities to come your way—make your own opportunities!

3) Define yourself—don’t let others do it for you. The tabloid culture that surrounds celebrities leads to constant scandal. Whether it is drug abuse, racy video clips, or extramarital affairs, celebrities are constantly seeing their “private” lives spill into public conversation. Lady Gaga hasn’t had this problem—because she’s decided to define herself rather than let the tabloids do it for her. She’s been open about her drug use and other potentially embarrassing habits—and as a result, she has been able to frame those revelations in a manner consistent with her personal brand.

4) Continually reinvent yourself within your brand. Wearing an outrageous costume is great, but it only holds attention for so long. Many celebrities find their “look” and then stick with it. But Lady Gaga is constantly changing her appearance—to the point where she makes headlines every time she appears in public! She stays true to her central brand, but she evolves quickly to avoid growing stale.

Lady Gaga is a marketing phenomenon. But to those who are serious about personal branding, she is more than just a curiosity. She’s a master at personal branding, and if we’re smart we will all pay attention.