26 April 2018

5 Personal Branding Lessons from Cardi B

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am a die-hard Cardi B fan. I think most people assume it’s because of her utterly unadulterated, unapologetic and unfiltered personality but the true reason why I am completely enamored with the twenty-five-year-old stripper turned rap star is because she is undoubtedly a pacesetter for personal brands.

From Instagram personality to Love & Hip-Hop cast member to Billboard chart-topper, Cardi B has unprecedentedly leveraged social media to become the powerhouse name she is today. Over the last five years, Cardi B’s social media fanbase has shown exponential growth moving from over 1M followers in 2015 to 7M in 2017 and 21.5M to date. She is perhaps one of the most genuine and organic examples of how social media can be used as a tool to not only build and develop a brand but to also create influence.

Following the success of her debut single, “Bodak Yellow”, the American rapper recently released her new album, Invasion of Privacy, which has garnered the respect of celebrities from Rihanna to Oprah Winfrey. Hard work and dedication have paid off for Hip Hop’s Best New Rapper, but there is an even greater lesson to be learnt from Cardi B’s successes.

Unquestionably, “the boss in a skirt” can school more than a few of us on how to hack personal branding and win on social media. Here are the top five lessons we can learn from Cardi B to make sh-money moves:

1.   Be YOU-nique

While Cardi B might not have started off as everyone’s cup of tea, she has always kept it “real” and showed the world her true self. I remember seeing her constantly flashing a crooked but confident smile and thought to myself, this is someone who has embraced their flaws. From day one, Cardi B positioned herself as a total “what you see is what you get” package. This type of authenticity is fundamental to building trust and credibility as a personal brand. Offstage or onstage, Cardi B remains the same down-to-earth person allowing people to connect with her easily.

2.   Show Your Competitive Edge

Fittingly the line “I’m my own competition, I’m competin’ with myself” from her song “Best Life” is a self-proclamation that Cardi B has always stood out amongst other female rappers and artists on the whole. She used everything that separated her from the competition to catapult her career, from speaking openly about growing up in the hood, life as a stripper, her Dominican heritage, to using comedy to engage her audience and of course, showing off her candid personality. Her crafty rhymes often reflect her personal life experiences, and she finds clever ways to embed her Latino culture into her music producing a sound and style that is distinctive.

3.   Tell Authentic Stories

Whether it’s tumultuously telling the world about her love life, talking about the bond with her sister Hennessy or showering her mother with a bouquet of rose-folded $100 bills, Cardi B lets her fans in by telling them authentic and relatable stories about her life. Storytelling is one of the best ways brands can hit that emotional chord with their audience. By sharing the ups and downs of her rap career, Cardi B awakened empathy in her fans which gave them all the more reason to fall deeper in love with her.

4.   Know Your Audience And Engage Them

As you scroll through the thousands of posts on Cardi B’s Instagram account you’re sure to find a significant number of reposts from fans doing covers of her songs, dancing to her music, painting portraits of her, mimicking her outfits or to a more extreme extent, showing off their Cardi B inspired tattoos. Whether you’re a celebrity or professional getting to know your audience personally is key to personal branding and understanding your demographics. You’ll also notice Cardi B frequently poses questions to her fans and posts direct calls-to-action. Equally important, she monitors comments and evaluates feedback.

5.   Endorse Like-Minded Brands

Despite her rise to fame, Cardi B has maintained her endorsement with Fashion Nova, an online clothing store offering “cheap and affordable fashion” because it resonates with many of her followers. Similarly, after rejection by high-end designers, she aligned with Steve Madden, a name that was not only stylish and acclaimed but accessible to her fans. Becoming a social media influencer can open doors to lucrative endorsements but rather than endorsing multiple brands that may be tangential and damaging to your brand equity, seek strategic partnerships that align with your positioning and purpose, those which are relevant to your brand and target audience.

Now that you have all of Cardi B’s personal branding lessons covered. Time to rethink your personal branding strategy and make some sh-money!

Source: Re-Shana Horton, AMA PCM®