This year has undoubtedly been The Year of Drake, my favorite millennial in the history of millennials. (Though if you ask me, every year since 2003 has been “The Year of Drake.”)
Drake kicked off 2015 by releasing a surprise album, which was unlike anything we’d heard from him before. This summer, we saw his character being put to the test after another rapper attempted to besmirch his name on Twitter. The upshot? Drake slayed the guy with a series of freestyle raps and a hard-hitting PowerPoint presentation. Since this summer, not only has Drake released another album, but he hit a milestone as the fourth artist to ever score 100 Billboard Hot 100 hits; he received amazing reviews for his annual Toronto-based OVOFest; and he allegedly began dating one of the greatest athletes of all time.
Basically, Drake does all of the things, and he does them well. But he’s more than just a rap figure. He’s a brand, and his messaging has remained incredibly consistent over the years. It just works, and it plays a lot into his popularity among the millennial generation.
There’s a thing or two we can all learn from Drake. So, in honor of his stellar year, here are five lessons marketers can adopt from him to win over millennial consumers.
1. Embrace your quirks.
Expressing heartfelt emotion isn’t something that rappers typically embrace. Drake has lots of emotions, and he’s blatantly unapologetic about it. He’s well aware that people make fun of him for agonizing over women who break his heart. But guess what? He laughs at the jokes, and then sings and agonizes some more.
In his recent video for “Hotline Bling,” Drake dances around like a total dad … all by himself. He’s salsa dancing, spinning around and pantomiming. It’s so awkward and odd, but it’s so representative of Drake, that it’s actually amazing. Everyone raved about the video, and a bunch of people even dressed up as “Hotline Bling Drake” for Halloween this year.
One thing to note is that Drake isn’t over the top with all of this. He’s not running around crying every day and dancing like a dad at every show. However, when the opportunity arises every so often to remind the haters that he’s not ashamed to be himself, he takes it.
A company that’s tapped into this just the right way is Dressbarn. People have poked fun at the retailer’s name for ages, so they recently launched a campaign literally telling everyone to get over it because … it’s their name. This has gained the brand a lot of press, and people have responded well to it. Consumers have even been taking photos of Dressbarn’s billboards and uploading them to social channels. The moral of the story: Embrace your quirks, and the people will embrace you.
2. Be transparent and authentic.
Drake loves sharing personal stories with the world. Sometimes he tells us how much money he has in the bank. Other times, he’ll provide us with some background on his family dynamics. He even shares details about his personal relationship struggles.
Drake also enjoys sharing behind-the-scenes photos of his life on Instagram. And I’m not talking Photoshopped stuff like other celebrities are known to share. He posts authentic photos of time spent with his mom in the kitchen, snapshots of him and his buddies in the studio, and images of him and his dad sipping on wine on random nights. It’s genuine content that fans want to see.
When it comes to authenticity and transparency, I love bringing up Everlane. On every product page on its ecommerce site, the brand shares an infographic that details what it cost to make the item. The Everlane ecommerce site and blog also feature photos and videos of their overseas factories, explaining how and where products are manufactured. Millennials love this. They are conscious consumers who take pride in buying items that are made responsibly. It’s crucial that the brands of today recognize this.
3. Tap into your hometown glory.
Drake is incredibly proud to be from Toronto. He vocally and visually supports his local sports teams, restaurants, politicians, models, and more. He even calls himself “6 God,” a colloquialism he derived from the 6s in the Toronto area codes – 416 and 647.
Nearly every person I’ve ever met from Rhode Island has independently expressed some sort of affection for Narragansett Beer. The brand ties itself so much to being a product of New England that people carry the sentiment with them wherever they end up, and they spread the word to others. This hometown glory has a lot to do with the widespread success of the brand, and it’s an awesome thing to see.
4. Express gratitude.
Drake often uses his music to shout out his family and friends for their unconditional love and support throughout the years. His mother, his uncle and his friends all played crucial roles in getting him to where he is now.
Now that he has the means to pay them back, he most certainly does. Whether that entails providing a lavish lifestyle for his family, bailing his friends out of tough situations, or lending his mellifluous voice to other artists’ songs, Drake is on it. He refuses to forget who was there for him on his rise to the top.
The easiest way to do this is to reward your most fervent fans and customers with perks. DSW’s rewards program, for example, presents gift certificates to avid shoppers. Taco Bell sends a bunch of random swag to social media influencers to keep them tweeting about the brand. These are simple ways to give thanks to the people who know and love what you do.
5. Channel Drake.
There’s so much more we can learn from this guy beyond all that’s been listed above. To name a few: Defend the integrity of your product; be loyal; acknowledge your shortcomings when necessary. This young man is a wise, wise soul.
As awesome as he is, Drake is just one small piece of the millennial marketing puzzle.
To learn more about the types of content that resonates with this demographic, download our guide, “Marketing to Millennials: Engaging a Generation of Visual Buyers.”
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