4 things Drake can teach us about branding

Any way that I can draw a link between hip-hop and marketing, I will.

Are you building a personal brand, working in marketing or just trying to understand a little more about the 6 God?

Here are a few things we can learn from Drake about branding…

  1. Stay true to your brand mission & origins

I’m aware this could be a little ironic, given that Drake has slowly started to adopt Jamaican and British roots as well, BUT I doubt there is single person on this planet who doesn’t know that Aubrey Drake Graham is from Toronto. I mean, he really wants you to know he is from Toronto.


No matter how far from home he has travelled and how global he has become, Drake’s first key branding takeaway is that he remains loyal to where he started. For him it’s his hometown, but for a brand this means staying true to your original brand message or not forgetting how that very first product or single was created.

This doesn’t mean you can’t adapt and evolve from where you began, but incorporating those original values into your on-going brand strategy is imperative to building an audience who trusts and believes in what you stand for and ultimately, an audience that appreciates you are brand they can invest in long-term.

  1. Run on your own schedule for maximum impact

We know by now that Drake could tease a project for months and still not drop it on the release date he originally intended [deep sigh]. While this exact method is not something I’d recommend for a brand, (pushing back a product launch again and again is likely to aggravate your consumers), what it does show us is that Drake never releases anything until he is absolutely ready. And that’s the key.


There is no point working on something for a good amount of time only to rush the final stages to make it fit into a pre-determined schedule. If your product (or music single or article) is not where you want it to be by the date you agreed to finish and you know it needs a bit more work to really create an impact, then take ownership and buy yourself that little bit more time to get it right.

Just look at how long we agonised over More Life. The rumoured release was pushed back month after month, but then it came and “Passionfruit” made the wait feel worth it.

  1. Foresee trends & really get to grips with social media

It’s 2017 and there is still this misconception that social media is not as important as other strands of marketing [insert mini eye roll]. So while anti-social big businesses still prefer to focus on old school forms of PR,  Drake has slowly carved a little niche for himself by learning how huge memes, gifs and shareable content really can be in your marketing strategy and as a means of staying relevant.


For example, his “Hotline Bling” video spawned hundreds of hilarious dancing Drake gifs and memes, which went viral almost instantly and even received coverage on Vogue. Yes, VOGUE wrote an article about funny Drake memes off the back of that now infamous video. I never thought I’d see the day.

But this viral hit was hardly accidental. Drake actually had a choreographer on set for “Hotline Bling”, teaching him moves to incorporate so that he could create something far more attention-worthy than just standing around and singing to camera.

Another brilliant example of Aubrey using social media to his marketing advantage was on the release of his fourth studio album, Views. The Views album cover was made completely social media friendly with a website where you could generate your very own version of the cover featuring a mini Drake sat on top of any photo you choose. Instead of seeing him sat on the CN Tower (as he is on the actual album), mini Drake popped up all over Instagram, sitting on top of soup bowls, ladies hips, brand logos and more. He had the whole of social media doing his marketing for him.

drake views

  1. Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate

Over the course of his come-up, Drake has featured on well over 80 singles with other artists (probably over 100, I couldn’t find a full list of his features!) Whether these collabs have been with hip-hop icons like Lil Wayne, Future and Kendrick, or artists with whom he is simply close friends, such as OB Brien, Wizkid or Majid Jordan, each of these partnerships has built ‘brand Drake’ even bigger, positioning him as a truly adaptable star and a force to be reckoned with across continents.

From a branding perspective, it helps to team up with other power players (whether in your industry or not) in order to tap into their audience and therefore market yourself to a larger group of people. On top of that, collaborations between brands or with individuals indicate a strong sense of identity for both parties and demonstrate that you are in demand and recognised as an expert or leader in your field.


Sponsorship deals, artist collaborations, even social media influencer partnerships for your brand’s blog, all have the same effect: building that brand identity.

Now go Drake-ify your strategy!

I could very easily have used Jay Z as a blueprint (lol) for this post or similar branding powerhouses such as DJ Khaled or Beyoncé, but the reason I chose Drake is because he feels more authentic.


Like a lot of brands starting out, he hasn’t always been so strategic, he’s tried a few different ways to build and made a mistake or two (does Beyoncé even know what the word ‘mistake’ means?!), but it all just feels a lot more organic.

And that is ultimately how I believe the very best brands flourish – through organic and trustworthy content.


If you want to know more about branding, creating killer content or marketing strategies for your business, I am available for consultancy and more. Let’s have a conversation! Message me via the contact form here or tweet me.

What are your thoughts on Drake’s brand? Is he a real branding genius or are there other artists who have mastered it better? Tweet me @natashananner or leave a comment.


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