A "Bey-school" education: 4 Crucial business lessons from Beyoncé's Ivy Park launch
April 13, 2016 at 4:30 am
In case you haven’t fully grasped the concept quite yet, Queen Bey slays when it comes to business. Just two short months after dominating the media with a surprise video release, Superbowl performance and record-breaking concert tour announcement, Beyoncé has proven that she is a force to be reckoned with the release of yet another project, the athleisure clothing line, Ivy Park.
Whether or not you like Beyoncé’s music, videos, politics, clothing, hairstyle, toe nail polish color, breakfast choices, whatever, one thing is undeniable: Her entrepreneurial acumen is consistently on point and is often so far ahead of the curve that it creates the curve.
A year-and-a-half ago, Mrs. Carter entered into a strategic 50/50 partnership with Topshop to produce a line of athletic wear to include “clothing, footwear and accessories for fitness, sport and dance.” She recently debuted the promotional video for the activewear, and the promo is absolutely brilliant from a business perspective. Take a look and see for yourself:
Beyoncé Giselle Knowles Carter is my personal go-to mogul mentor when it comes to laying the foundation for, creating and building a successful business and implementing inventive business strategies. Well… she’s my personal mogul mentor in my head anyway — at least until she invites me over to sip champagne and discuss our entrepreneurial endeavors in person like business besties are prone to do. Until then, however, I’ll just continue to happily glean tidbits of excellent entrepreneurial advice from her smart business moves.
Listen, if all you see when you look at Beyoncé is hot music, haute clothes and a superstar entertainer, then you are completely missing the point. One of the things that thrills me to no end is to see someone — especially a woman —who takes command when it comes to their business and is strategic, inventive and a calculated risk-taker when it comes to building it. If at this point you’re still asking “Of all the successful women entrepreneurs out there why should Beyoncé be my mentor when it comes to business?” then allow me to give you four brilliant reasons. Let’s explore, shall we?
4 BRILLIANT “BEY-SCHOOL” BUSINESS LESSONS FROM THE IVY PARK LAUNCH
Understand branding and the importance of storytelling
A clear indication that Beyoncé understands branding is that she constantly and consistently weaves branding throughout her projects and hits you with it at every possible angle. For starter’s, check out that stylized ‘B’ logo in the bottom right hand corner of the video. It’s not intrusive — it’s subliminal, but it’s there doing its job in letting you know that this is a Beyoncé project through and through.
The strategy of weaving branding throughout her projects is something she does constantly and consistently.
As for the storytelling aspect, the ad does a spectacular job of drawing you in: It’s very personal in nature with actual footage of Bey’s former home and of her as a child. It makes the view feel connected to the product because Beyoncé herself narrates her personal story that has a message the viewer can connect to, and it inspires the viewer to take action by finding their own “park” that will motivate and help them in pursuing their dreams.
By the way, in case you need assistance with finding that “park” of your own, the brand subconsciously let’s you know that purchasing Ivy Park products can be the perfect inspiration to enable you to do so. The great thing is that every entrepreneur can utilize these techniques to their advantage. Here are questions to ask yourself in order to start doing things the way Mrs. Carter does:
- What ways can I identify to better interject my branding into my products and collateral marketing
- How can I tell my brand’s “story” better?
- What are some ways you can use that story to connect more intimately with your ideal clients?
Understand the importance of leveraging artnerships
I was watching a recent episode of E! Network‘s WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) reality show Total Divas, and two of my favorite diva wrestlers, The Bella Twins were interested in launching a lingerie line called Birdiebee. Brie wanted to do things on their own, but Nikki recognized the value of partnering with someone experienced and seasoned in the fashion industry and sought out Daymond John of fashion brand FUBU and Shark Tank fame.
Looks like Nikki Bella might have gotten her Masters in Business from Bey-School.
Beyoncé clearly understands the power of partnerships as well. Could she have successfully launched an athleisure line all on her own? Of course. So, why didn’t she? Because she recognized that she didn’t have to. She realized instead that she could instead create a powerful alliance with a company that was not only already a power player in the athletic wear field, but that also already had a proven track record with collaborations. My thought is that Beyoncé’s stance was “Why re-invent the wheel when I can get in a vehicle that’s already rolling along quite well?”
The business lesson for entrepreneurs is that sometimes it’s not necessary to create everything on your own or from scratch. In fact, creating strategic partnerships can be an absolutely invaluable strategy because you leverage the strengths of each partner to create something bigger than you could have created alone.
Understand that seriously successful entrepreneurs know they have to commodify their sh*t
You know that fabulous biz concept you’ve developed/gorgeous logo you designed/perfect business name/ideal slogan you thought of? Well guess what — if you don’t take appropriate measures, it won’t be long before someone else thinks of that biz concept/gorgeous logo/perfect business name too and decides to capitalize on it for their own benefit. One of the biggest (and potentially most costly) misconceptions budding entrepreneurs and small business owners make is underestimating the importance of protecting their ideas and the business they’re building from those ideas from the very beginning. They fail to commodify.
What does it mean to commodify? Well, let’s start with what a commodity is first. The dictionary defines a commodity as:
- something that is bought and sold
- something or someone that is useful or valued
So to commodify something means you take action and transform a thing into a commodity — you impart an intrinsic value upon it. In order to have longevity in the business world, entrepreneurs must begin to recognize their intellectual property as a commodity, and then do what it takes to protect it. Beyoncé is a master of commodifying her sh*t. She means it when she says in “Formation,” “I dream it…I work hard ’til I own it.” When she dreams up a great idea, she is quick to protect it and impart her ownership on it.
Here’s what I’m talking about: She filed for a USPTO trademark for the business name Ivy Park which is a critical first step. She didn’t stop there though. She also secured social media accounts associated with that trademark under @WeAreIvyPark; she created her own website www.IvyPark.com and then she initiated use of the hashtag #IVYPARK.
By doing that she is imparting value on her business and intellectual property, as well as protecting it from those who would love to snatch the value of it for themselves. These are all crucial steps to take for entrepreneurs who are really serious about their business. If your business is your proverbial baby, then you must do everything in your power to protect it.
Be like Bey. Commodify what’s yours if it’s truly of value.
Understand that it’s crucial to create multiple streams of revenue generation
You’ve heard the phrase “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket!” a million and two times, yet it can be difficult for entrepreneurs to avoid doing exactly that. We can be like a dog with a bone when it comes to an idea that we’re super passionate about, but longevity requires creating several different ways to generate income.
This is easier said than done. The desire to stay on-brand or focusing on what seems like a logical next project can make developing multiple streams complicated — if you let it.
Think about Ivy Park. You don’t immediately think of an athletic clothing line being a logical, on-brand project for a music entertainer, but when you really begin to think about how athletic ability is closely tied to what she does during her high-energy performances, it starts to make sense. In order to do what Beyoncé does, you have no choice but to train like an athlete.
A glamorous, hair-blowing-in-the-wind, glisten-instead-of-sweat athlete, but one nonetheless.
So what does this mean for you? It means you must actively think about ways you can diversify your business. Brainstorm on it and don’t limit yourself. Do a mental paradigm shift and think about other projects that come naturally to you, that you’re passionate about or that you’ve always wanted to try. Think logically and even (what might feel like) illogically.
Once you’ve got some ideas on paper, flesh a few of them out a bit and create a skeleton plan for how to make each of them happen. This will give you a great, loose road map to follow so that you’re ready when an opportunity presents itself.
Then, once you’re ready to bring one of those revenue streams to life, do yourself a favor:
Put your game face on, get your Bey-School education and make those business goals and dreams happen.
Your own Ivy Park is waiting.