Look what you made her do: How Taylor Swift defied her “reputation” by Riahnna Whitley

Mending your brand image is no easy feat, but Taylor Swift has proven it’s possible in her latest Netflix film, reputation Stadium Tour. The film explores the depths, rises, and pitfalls of Swift’s reputation over the years. During a two-hour concert, the audience is taken along a journey with Swift, where she is unapologetically herself. She proves the old Taylor isn’t really dead, just the reputation she was marked with.

Before we dive in, let’s discuss the difference between brand identity and brand image. Brand identity is how you view yourself, and more importantly, how you want to be perceived by the public. Brand image is how the public actually perceives your brand, whether it’s factual or not. A brand has no control over several factors that comprise a brand image. Therefore, every message should be intentional, well-defined, and consistent. Many of the choices Swift made were strategic, honest, and thoughtful. In fact, Swift’s “reputation Stadium Tour” has become the biggest U.S. selling tour in history, so she is obviously doing something right.

So, how did Swift reclaim her image? She took control of the narrative. Instead of trying to change the mind of others, she simply embraced her reputation. If you’ve seen the film, you may recall seeing several snakes appear on stage with Swift. Many people called Swift a “snake” in the past, which in part, sparked the concept of her reputation album. The snake bit is Swift’s clever, yet deliberate attempt at reframing the story. Additionally, as always, Swift let her music speak for itself and then left it up to the public to decide for themselves. Swift already accepts who she is as an artist and person.

The “reputation Stadium Tour” is truly an ode to fans, but also a shout out to all the critics of her past. Swift gives people a glimpse of who she is and demonstrates that she isn’t afraid to show her vulnerable side. In a poem called “Why She Disappeared,” she recites, “without your past, you could never have arrived—so wondrously and brutally, by design or some violent, exquisite happenstance…here.” Although there are some serious moments, the film also features fun, musical performances, and stripped-down songs with just Swift and her guitar. Also, being readily available on Netflix is a smart move because it has led to a surplus of people who might have not seen the tour otherwise. Since the release, there has been a lot of engagement online, and many people are even asking themselves “why did I ever dislike Swift in the first place?” So, if you ever find your brand image or reputation in trouble, try taking a page out of Taylor Swift’s playbook.