Skip to content
  • There are no suggestions because the search field is empty.

Building Brand Devotion: Lessons from Taylor Swift

Building Brand Devotion: Lessons from Taylor Swift Article Featured Image

Entertainment juggernaut Taylor Swift has earned her reputation as arguably the world’s most successful singer-songwriter and performer. She’s also a brilliant brand leader with enviably devoted fans, known as Swifties, who will pull out their wallets for anything Swift offers, including albums, merch, and, of course, concert tickets. 

Indeed, by the end of Swift’s Eras Tour, it’s estimated that it will have impacted the U.S. economy to the tune of $5 billion. So it makes sense for business leaders who care about their customers to take a few pages from her songbook to increase their own success. 

Here are five lessons Swift can teach us both about branding and retaining loyal customers. 

1. Facing a challenge? “Shake It Off.”

Like most public figures, Swift has experienced her share of setbacks, but she doesn’t let them define her—or her success. 



Kanye West started a public feud with Swift when he interrupted her 2009 Video Music Awards acceptance speech, taking her microphone, and suggesting that Beyoncé deserved the award. In 2016, after the release of his song “Famous” and a video edited to appear that Swift was OK with his lyrics, many people began to proclaim on social media that “Taylor Swift is over.” In response, Swift took a break from the public eye. 

Swift didn’t let the criticism keep her down for long, however. She used the time to write and record Reputation, her sixth studio album. Released in 2017, it sold 1.2 million copies in its first week and launched a record-breaking stadium tour. 



Later, when music executive Scooter Braun bought the master recordings of her first six albums in 2019, Swift began rerecording and releasing those albums as “Taylor’s Versions” to limit Braun’s profits of her music sales. Most recently, Speak Now (Taylor’s Version), released in July, was the biggest-selling debut so far on Billboard’s 200 list in 2023, thanks to devoted Swifties and new fans. 

Key takeaway: Various events have blindsided Swift, but she keeps moving forward. Setbacks are inevitable for individuals and brands. Stay focused on the opportunities challenges present, regroup when necessary, and look for ways to reinvent. 

2. Leave your customers “Enchanted”

The Eras Tour offers numerous examples of the personalized and memorable fan experiences for which Swift is famous: 

• Her marketing team, Taylor Nation, engages directly with Swifties by retweeting and quoting tweets from fans at every stop on the tour.

• Every fan at her concerts receives an LED bracelet that flashes colors and patterns to coordinate with the setlist. Swift tells concertgoers that she can see “every last one” of them, no matter where they are in the stadium. (These lighted bands are often worn with the myriad beaded bracelets that Swifties make, buy, and share with one another—another sign of the community that Swift has created.)

• At each stop along the Eras Tour, Swift plays two surprise songs that haven’t been performed at the other shows on the tour—giving each audience a special experience and incentivizing fans who aren’t at the show to tune in via streams and notifications on social media.

• Swift gifts one selected fan the hat she wears onstage as she performs the song 22. The fan—often chosen by Swift’s mother before the concert starts—gets the unforgettable experience of going up to the stage and speaking with the star during the song. 


Key takeaway: Swift recognizes that her fans are integral to her success and creates extraordinary experiences to offer her appreciation. Similarly, brands can find ways to engage with customers in unique and personal ways, always letting them know how much their loyalty is appreciated. 

3. Show your humanity: “This Is Me Trying”

Despite her celebrity, Swift is known for being down-to-earth, uncommon for someone so famous. In her Netflix documentary, Miss Americana, she embraces vulnerability and shares parts of her life the public doesn’t typically see—solidifying the admiration of many fans and winning new ones. 



Swift’s personal and approachable persona on social media also sets her apart from many glitterati, engendering deep connections with her fans. While most celebrity TikTok accounts are primarily promotional, Swift uses hers much like the rest of us: sharing videos of her cats, commenting on others’ posts, and participating in viral trends. 

Key takeaway: Thanks to her relatability, kindness, and sincerity, Swift has forged a deep connection with her fans. Customers are looking for the same: personal connections with brands. So remember: Don’t be afraid to show the human side of your business via stories about your founders, your employees, and your customers. 

4. Leverage authentic partnerships: “It’s Nice to Have a Friend”

Swift’s creative and business partnerships have been beneficial to her brand and have resonated authentically with herSwift6 fan base. 

Writing and performing songs with Ed Sheeran, for example, made good sense since the two artists share similar fan bases. But Swift hasn’t limited herself to expected choices when it comes to musical collaboration. She’s also partnered with rapper Kendrick Lamar and indie folk band Bon Iver, bridging musical genres and introducing her music to new fans. 

Swift also applies a multifaceted approach to business partnerships. When launching her 1989 album, Swift teamed with Apple Music as her exclusive streaming partner, offering fans who ordered the album on presale and purchased Diet Coke—a drink Swift had previously raved about—the chance to win meet-and-greet tour tickets. 

While music streamers and soda have obvious crossover appeal with Swift’s fans, her current relationship with Capital One expanded her partnerships into a new industry. The brand alliance, which started in 2019, features Swift in a variety of commercials for Capital One credit cards. Prior to the Eras Tour, Capital One gave cardholders an exclusive presale ticket opportunity—a major perk considering the intense demand for tickets crashed Ticketmaster’s system. 



Key takeaway: Swift teams up both with creative collaborators and compelling businesses—some that sync with her brand and others that expand it. Likewise, brands should carefully select partners that are authentic to their story and values, and those that reinforce or expand their customer base. 

5. Tell “The Story of Us”

All musical artists promote their new projects, but Swift has mastered the art of both engaging fans in the process and including them in the narrative. 

Swift teases each of her Taylor's Version album releases with hints and Easter eggs on her social media. Swifties scour her posts for clues and posit theories about which album will be released next and which tracks from her vault—songs recorded but not included on the original albums—will make it onto a particular Taylor’s Version. 



Additionally, she uses video storytelling as both an element of her work and a means to promote it. For example, in response to fans’ pleas for the release of “All Too Well” (10-Minute Version, Taylor’s Version), Swift not only released the song but created a short film to bring the story to life. The evening before she dropped her Midnights album (which went on sale at midnight), Swift drove excitement for the launch with a video trailer played during Thursday Night Football. 

Key takeaway: Swift constantly engages with fans, piquing their interest with storytelling and building excitement along the way to a new project. Similarly, brands that listen to their customers and draw them in with storytelling can create an elevated level of personal engagement that leads to lasting loyalty. 

Taylor Swift’s success in both building and maintaining a devoted legion of fans highlights guiding principles for brands to create authentic and personalized experiences for their customers and turn program members into devoted brand loyalists.






The Lacek Group, a Minneapolis-based data-driven loyalty, experience, and customer engagement agency that has been delivering personalization at scale for its world-class clients for more than 30 years. The Lacek Group is an Ogilvy company.