Blog > Why the brand Kanye West is in crisis?

Why the brand Kanye West is in crisis?

Why the brand Kanye West is in crisis?

InBranding, Business, Music Posted onNov 15, 2022

This article contains a direct quote from a 3rd party that some readers may find offensive.

Remember, the moment may have passed, but the lessons are timeless. So what can we learn as business/brand owners from this snapshot in time?

If you have been keeping up with the tyrant they call “cancel culture”, you will know that Kanye West is currently under fire for making antisemitic comments. In a tweet which Kanye posted on 8th Oct, he remarked:

“I’m a bit sleepy tonight but when I wake up I’m going death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE The funny thing is I actually can’t be Anti Semitic because black people are actually Jew also You guys have toyed with me and tried to black ball anyone whoever opposes your agenda,”

The backlash has been so bad that we watched Kanye’s net worth fall from 1.3 billion to 400million overnight. I mean, by usual standards, no one should be crying over a net worth of 400million, I know I wouldn’t, but from a business standpoint, this is a massive deal!

Standing firm by his stance, it is clear that Kanye has decided to go “death con 3”, as he called it, on his brand as he continues to be alienated by his industry and peers.

Now I want to make it clear that I am not here to discuss who’s right or wrong, get into the cancel culture debate or discuss the state of Kanye’s mental health. Geez, enough has been said on these topics already.

What I am interested in is what we can learn as business and brand owners as we witness one of the biggest brands on the planet implode.

Kanye West got his big break with the release of “The college drop out” in 2004. To date one of my favourite hip hop albums of all time.

And this catapulted him to stardom and cemented him as Kanye, the music genius.

He has since gone on to amass a commendable business portfolio. That earned him his place in the coveted billionaire’s club. Striking lucrative deals with brands like Adidas, GAP & Balenciaga, due to his ventures into the realm of fashion, with his brand Yeezy. Talk about brand association at its finest.

He even managed to pip Jay Z as being the wealthiest hip-hop billionaire.

So what happened? Why did it all go wrong? How could a single tweet damage the brand to the point Kanye goes from 1.3 billion to 400 million overnight?

Let’s discuss brand values and the role they have played in Kanye’s very public demise.

Brand values are the foundational beliefs that a person or company stands for.

These beliefs form the brand’s personality and guide its moral compass to determine the actions that a brand will or will not take.

In other words, your values say a lot about who you are. They give us an insight into your belief system and, as a result, determine what you will or won’t associate yourself with.

For example, if you believe people should not eat meat, this will form one of your values.

As a result, you’re most likely to be vegetarian, and if Mcdonald’s were to offer you a lucrative deal to be the face of their Big Mac burger for example, based on your values, you would say no.

From this example, you can see just how important values are when building a brand.

I advise anyone wanting to grow a business/brand online to think about and cement their values from the get-go.

In my experience, failure to do so usually results in brand sabotage because when the values of your business/brand are not aligned with your core values, it creates an internal conflict, which causes havoc until resolved.

We see the results of this happening all the time, especially in the celebrity world. People compromise their values to pursue money, believing that the money will paper over the cracks. However, the reality is, just like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, they cannot keep the pretence up for long, which is why they often turn to drugs and alcohol, or it ultimately affects their mental health.

I feel it is important here to add that in this digital landscape, we find ourselves. If you have a digital footprint, whether you have posted once or twice or actively use social media. You have become a brand whether you like it or not. Branding is no longer a thing you do; it is a lived experience.

People are forming a perception of you with each tweet or post they see, and this perception will either make or break your brand or business venture, as we are witnessing with Kanye and his brand.

If we look deeper at Kanye’s response to the backlash, and what he said in his original tweet, it is clear that Kanye is in an industry that does not align with his core values.

You guys have toyed with me and tried to black ball anyone whoever opposes your agenda,”

When Kanye refers to an agenda here, whatever he thinks this agenda may be, clearly it’s an agenda that’s in direct conflict with his core values. An agenda he’s no longer happy to go along with, regardless of the contracts signed or the lucrative nature of the deals.

This could further be corroborated by the fact that Kanye seemed to make a drastic shift with his music when he launched a gospel album on the 25th Dec 2019 called “Jesus is King.”

The twisted thing is, if you listen to Kanye’s music, it could be argued that Kanye was aware of this conflict with his core values, before stepping into the industry. But proceeded to do so anyway to amass his fortune and fame.

Ummm…did Kanye know it would get to this point all along?

For example, in the song “can’t tell me nothing,”.

Kayne says:

I had a dream I could buy my way to Heaven

When I awoke, I spent that on a necklace (oh, oh, oh, oh, oh)

I told God I’d be back in a second

Man, it’s so hard not to act reckless

To whom much is given much is tested

Get arrested, guess until he get the message (oh, oh, oh, oh, oh)

I feel the pressure, under more scrutiny

And what I do? Act more stupidly (oh, oh, oh, oh, oh)

Bought more jewelry, more Louis V

My mama couldn’t get through to me (oh, oh, oh, oh, oh)

The drama, people suing me

I’m on TV talkin’ like it’s just you and me

I’m just saying how I feel, man

I ain’t one of the Cosby’s, I ain’t go to Hell, man (oh, oh, oh, oh, oh)

I guess the money should have changed him

I guess I should have forgot where I came from

La, la, la-la (ayy)

Wait ’til I get my money right

La, la, la-la (yeah)

Then you can’t tell me nothing, right?

Excuse me? Was you saying something?

Uh uh, you can’t tell me nothing (yeah)

(Ha ha) you can’t tell me nothing (yeah, yeah, yeah)

Uh uh, you can’t tell me nothing (oh, oh, oh, oh, oh)

This verse could be seen to substantiate the point I made earlier that Kanye’s values are currently compromised, causing Kanye to sabotage his brand, whether intentional or unintentional.

This is why I believe we can not separate the business brand from the personal brand and why I coined the term Cyber-Celebrity Branding®.

If you want to achieve success and longevity in the current digital climate. You have to understand that the lines between business and personal branding have been blurred. Hence why, the principles of Cyber-Celebrity Branding®, show you how to manage/merge the two seamlessly.

Let me explain; there is no doubt that Kanye is exceptionally talented in music and fashion. As I mentioned, his ideas have generated millions of dollars for companies such as Adidas and Balenciaga. If they could, I am sure they would, from a business perspective, like to continue generating millions from Kanye’s ideas. But the problem is the business and personal brand here are intrinsically linked, and therefore there is no way to separate the two.
It seems Kanye took a gamble to join an industry that did not align with his core values, and now we are witnessing the great unravelling as he seeks to bring harmony between the two. It will be interesting to see how this all pans out. Will Kanye survive?

The Moral To This Branding Story:

However, the moral of the branding story is if you are wanting to start or grow your business online. Ensure your core values support your business values; otherwise, you may find yourself in a situation where they are at odds with one another, and you have to let go of what you have worked so hard to build. Want to learn more click here

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Branding & Business Jor'El Mitchell

Global Business & Branding Strategist

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