What can Advertising learn from Ryan Leslie

Today i wanted to talk about branding and brand evangelist. Mostly the latter as they have grown to be playmakers in a brand’s activation. To explain what a brand evangelist is and how to activate some of your own, i want to take a look at the Harvard grad, Singer/Rapper/Producer all around genius Ryan Leslie. In my opinion Mr Leslie has mastered how to use his fans enthusiasm to quantify his brands at a micro and macro level. Rather than using a Rihanna or Lady Gaga with their respective huge following and full blown marketing teams, I wanted to show a relatable brand with huge potential and a unique voice.

For the last year I have observed Ryan Leslie and his team put on a master class on transmedia storytelling and brand activation. From Ryan Leslie Tv, to his music, and the philanthropy; here is the top 3 things advertising and transmedia can learn from the Ryan Leslie brand.

Provide genuine Content

Every time Ryan Leslie is working on a new project, we find out about it through a video, a diary of some sort. The impressive thing i noted was the transparence of the content. Not sure if it’s scripted or not, Leslie fuels his following with brand new content once a month, sometimes more. Those videos/mini-Documentary give an inside look at his work process and showcase to the world how he’s passionate about what he does. This is a great emotional intelligence practice. The result: a genuine-rock solid relationship, the key to the amplification of his brand in the past and future years.

The video that started the frenzy (in my opinion)

More recently (note the difference in production quality)

An inside look at the product in the early stage, getting your following hyped about the product before the release and more importantly listen to their feedback to improve. That’s the way he does it. You should too.

Let the fans/audience do the talking

Because everything is so transparent and genuine his following is attentive and possessive of his content. Every Ryan Leslie fan would post a link, share, retweet everything he puts online. More than that, they are avid brand evangelists who believe in the product. In fact they’re so into it that they’re converting other people (the notion of “Activation”). In fact his fans are part of his come up. They’re helping his brand grow by selling out shows, buying merchandise, and etc. As an independent artist, his marketing team is his fanbase. You’ve heard of crowdsourcing, this is “wisdom of the crowd” crowdsourcing at its finest. And they’re pretty good at it. Why can big brand do it with this level of efficiency?

Provide the unexpected

I think Ryan Leslie has mastered the “Random act of kindness” approach. The crazy thing about it is, it’s not forced or scripted. It just is. I went to one of his shows in DC last October for my birthday ( a gift) and I saw him perform, encore after encore for his fans. I actually shouted a song (Valentine) and he played it. I saw him give his keyboard to a fan as a birthday gift that night (shocker). All the people in attendance shouted in admiration and grabbed their phones to tweetpic the moment. The fact that he listens, cares and provides for his fans in such an unpredicted way is the reason the following is exponentially growing.

In this clip, he looked at his twitter feed and invited fans in the area to the studio.

who does that?

I would love to go to an Audi factory and see how the S5 are built. Or go to a Supra factory and see how the Tuf material for their sneakers is applied to the shoe. We all want to see how our favorite brands are in real life, not the polished version that advertising shows us. We are so protective of the things we like, we defend, promote and advocate for it in any weather. Ask the Apple fan boys. Ask the Call of duty modern warfare gamers. We are the brand evangelist that make or break your product. Listen to our voice and make us part of the process, and your brand will live long and prosper.



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