Why the only trend we should be following in 2024 is Taylor Swift

Lisa Thompson shares the lessons brands and marketers can learn from Taylor Swift

Lisa Thompson

Business Director Wavemaker UK


In the throngs of ‘trends season’, there is no doubt that many of us will have already seen the chat about the next generation we must obsess over or the tech everyone will take up in 2024. Perhaps you’ve been informed about some form of AI, a verse or something equally as niche, which we’ll all still be trying to make a thing of in 2025. However, this year, I would like to argue for something different… Are you ready for it?

Instead of facing forward, let’s look back and focus on someone who should be our guru for all things brand-building. The woman, the myth, the legend that is Taylor Swift. She nailed 2023. She hit billionaire status, her Eras tour generated nearly 5 billion dollars in the US alone, and her Reputation has never been better. With a pull so huge people are lying about loving her on dating sites to woo potential lovers, she has even convinced teenage girls to watch the NFL (a 53% increase). She isn’t just building her brand's capital but driving behaviour change.

So what can we steal with pride from Swifty? 

Keep it mainstream and give the feels 

Looking at trends, we often gravitate to the niche, something cool that makes us feel alternative and ahead of the curve. Yet, in doing this, we frequently forget that mass wins. Tay Tay knows this – she plays the big arenas and creates bangers huge groups of people can love. Contrary to its name, pop music is ridiculed for being too popular, and in advertising, we often roll our eyes at the most popular campaigns when System 1 research always proves us wrong. Even when Taylor needs to make a point, she does so in such a fun way that we take more notice.  And, importantly, she makes you feel. She makes you feel happy, sad and even angry. My boyfriend jokes that when I am mad at a feminist issue, I listen to The Man. It’s because of this that her songs top my favourites list. Let’s be more like Taylor – let’s focus on mass things and not obsess over the obscure. And let’s remember if we want to change behaviour or make people do something, using the feels will make it more impactful.

Taylor is the queen of paid, owned, and earned working together - everything she does links seamlessly back to her brand.

Lisa Thompson, Business Director - Strategy and Planning, Wavemaker UK

Rewrite the rules 

We work in a creative industry; we all know creativity is just finding a new way to solve an existing problem. Taylor is a genius at this. When things aren’t working, she pivots and finds a different way. When Scooter Braun wouldn’t sell her back her record masters, she just recorded them all again, not only regaining control of her music but generating huge commercial success. Whilst Swifty is not a challenger brand, she challenged existing structures to beat the man. In October last year, her Eras tour concert came to the cinema. In a bold move, she bypassed the movie distributors and negotiated a deal with AMC directly. Taking control of the release date, she decided that the film should only be shown from Thursday to Sunday, creating an event-like experience for the audience, akin to the buzz of attending a live concert.

Likely, she generated more revenue than she would have done the traditional way. Perhaps demonstrated by the fact that Beyonce also followed suit. Like the rerecord, she created her own rules, and brands that do well often do this. For example, Oatly focused on coffee shops to drive distribution as opposed to the well-trodden supermarket route. When looking at a client problem, we should look at the usual structures in place – can we break them and rewrite them to our advantage? This sort of creative thinking can help us grow. 

Use every touchpoint, and be “fearlessly” authentic 

Taylor is the queen of paid, owned, and earned working together - everything she does links seamlessly back to her brand. Whether releasing songs on a certain date or using her outfits to nod to something, it all works together. Her distribution strategy is something all brands would want in their wildest dreams. She gives fans who preorder albums the chance to access the UK and Ireland tour tickets early. It’s a Taylor loyalty scheme that actually recruits as well as retains. Binet & Field would be proud.

And that’s not all; a couple of years ago, I had the time of my life at the Reputation tour. This ethos was there…every single song that played before she came on stage linked back to the theme of reputation. The music before artists come on is often background music while people mingle and get drinks, yet she used it sublimely to build excitement and set the scene. Brands often have multiple agencies, sometimes making comms seem disjointed and incohesive. This isn’t to say everything should come from one agency, but that we all need to work harder to make every touchpoint amplify each other. The sum is greater than the parts. In a media agency world, we can use our work to amplify the work of an ad agency. Taylor’s brand is so strong because everything feels authentic. She has her style whether that be singing folk or singing pop. Even as we pivot brands, we should stick to the brand's core values.

As you read this, you may not think anything here is brand new, and that’s the point. Everything here you know all too well. Taylor has created a power brand by following tried and tested methods but also by being fearless enough to break the rules and pivot. So here’s my message to you: let’s take the traditional trends lens this year and shake it off. Let’s be more Taylor. Because if we are more Taylor, there will be that blank space for us to create real love stories with our audiences.

Guest Author

Lisa Thompson

Business Director Wavemaker UK


Lisa Thompson is the Business Director for Strategy and Planning at Wavemaker UK.

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