You’ve heard the thunderclap behind Beyoncé’s sixth album, Lemonade. Whether it’s discussion over the tracks, the profound visual album, the political, racial and social statements, or her relationship with Jay-Z, there is so much to be said about this glorious piece of work, and it begs us to talk about the parallels between it, branding and leadership.
If you want to pack the same powerful punch as Lemonade, sip on these 3 important takeaways to slay your brand like Queen Bey.
Dig up your roots
Beyoncé speaks loud and proud about who she is and what she comes from. She goes deep and gets personal in Lemonade, exposing that which only appears in the roots. Cameos of Blue Ivy, her parents, Jay-Z, and photos of her late grandmother, Agnez Dereon, a seamstress from Louisiana, grace the screen. Even Jay-Z’s grandmother, Hattie, makes an appearance. Much of the film was shot in New Orleans, Beyoncé’s mother’s hometown. New Orleans’ resilience, can-do spirit and self-reliance have been the backbone of city life for hundreds of years. We get glimpses into all that heart and grit, which authenticates the unfolding of Beyoncé’s truth like no other place ever could.
When we dig up our roots and show them to the world, we begin the journey into ourselves. In return, people feel us and experience who we are in meaningful ways. So take people to the core of yourself and your brand. Show the world where you came from and what your brand is made of, unapologetically. A thoughtful revealing of your story is the ultimate barrier breaker. You don’t need permission to go there.
Expose your emotions
In the first seconds of watching the film, you immediately feel…different. Something begins to move through you. You react by adjusting the weight of your body, the way you would when you get uncomfortable. As the film goes on, you’re gripped by the rawness of the poetry, the realness in Beyoncé’s voice when it breaks, and how raw everything seems, despite its exceptional level of production.
To borrow from Hemingway — Beyoncé is “hard and clear about what hurts.” The film is arranged into 11 spellbinding parts: Intuition, Denial, Anger, Apathy, Emptiness, Accountability, Reformation, Forgiveness, Resurrection, Hope, Redemption. It strings together stages of an emotional journey like a beautiful tapestry to tell a complete story. These topics expose extreme vulnerability, yet Beyoncé manages to swing her baseball bat (affectionately named “Hot Sauce”) on her trials and tribulations, and beat them into submission. Isn’t it wonderful how we can find our power in our powerlessness?
Many leaders believe that showing a sliver of vulnerability would cause them to be seen as unprofessional and weak. They fear the judgment and shame of being who they are and feeling what they feel. Brene Brown, the mother of vulnerability, says that “Vulnerability is the absolute heartbeat of innovation and creativity. There can be zero innovation without vulnerability.” So get vulnerable, let your brand connect on a gut level, and let it be a reflection of your truth. It is a sign of unwavering courage and strength.
Be a Trojan Horse
Beyoncé is well-coordinated, and not just in her killer choreography, but her strategic launch moves as well. She dropped Lemonade as a complete surprise, and it’s standing to make $3M a day (that’s 1,075,269 bottles of Me & the Bees lemonade if you care to know).
Hiding like a lightening bolt waiting to strike, Beyoncé’s surprise strategy is flawless, yes, but effortless? Hardly. Not a single ounce of Lemonade leaked before it was ready. The level of excellence, intention, and care that was given to releasing this significant, multidimensional creation is evident in the execution. God is in the details, and every bit of the experience builds excitement. Being called “the queen of surprise releases” is a testament to her business savvy. Drake employed the silent surprise tactic last February for his album, “If you’re reading this, it’s too late”, only for MTV to run the headline as “Drake ‘does a Beyoncé.”
So many companies launch brands and put ideas into the world prematurely. If you want to make a real dent, don’t compromise for speed by leaking half-done products, shoddy brands, and poorly executed ideas. The image of its embryonic state lingers in people’s minds, blurs their impression, and disappoints them. Put in the time, money, blood, sweat, and tears to craft something fully alive, not something that’s barely breathing. Have the discipline not to bring it forth until it is ready to be seen and experienced in its best light.
Beyoncé’s methods demand unrelenting grit and authenticity, killer attention to detail, an iron grip on the heart, slick strategies, and a you-can’t-bring-me-down attitude.
Oh, and if it’s real lemonade you’re after, here’s the recipe:
Take one pint of water, add a half pound of sugar, the juice of eight lemons, the zest of half a lemon. Pour the water from one jug then into the other several times. Strain through a clean napkin.