The era of Taylor Swift inspired Storytelling

A few weekends ago, I achieved one of my bucket-list activities… Going to see Taylor Swift with my best friend! Truly the best night ever – an absolute dream come true for the both of us.

Reflecting during the long car-ride home (& thinking about work on Monday morning!), I realised that she’s actually very masterful in her storytelling.

As market researchers, we know that a good brand story helps the audience connect with a brand. And throughout her 20 years in the industry, writing her life into stories, Taylor Swift has certainly created an extremely loyal & supportive fanbase.

Visual storytelling? She’s got it down. Every ‘era’ of hers has a distinct colour, aesthetic, and vibe to reflect the story she is portraying. If you don’t know about The Eras Tour, as the name suggests, her show is split into 10 ‘eras’ that represent her different albums, each with a different story. For example, the album ‘Speak Now’ is from when she was younger and has a ‘fairy-tale’ theme, many of the songs being romantic. She comes out in a huge ball-gown, the stage drenched in purple lights, her dancers twirling around her in flowy dresses whilst she sings a ballad. In contrast, a few eras later, the stage is black. ‘Reputation’ is her revenge album after the media & world turned on her, and Taylor comes stomping out (literally) in a red and black bodysuit. She chants songs about being the enemy whilst her dancers bang on their cages behind her. Not only is this amazing to watch, but she outlines each part of her artistic and personal journey with such clarity that it’s impossible to not understand the story she’s telling.  

And of course, each one of these eras is backed up by a catalogue of merchandise that allows the audience to physically bring their connection to Taylor into the real world. There’s the usual t-shirts, hoodies, and tote bags… but Taylor knows how to take it one step further. See her line of extremely exclusive snow globes that mean fans can immerse even their home décor into one of her stories.

Then there’s her lyrics. Now I may be biased when I say that she’s a beyond incredible songwriter… But her music is relatable. She discusses events that have happened to most of us, meaning many feel a special connection to the music. Not only are there themes of love but there’s empowerment, heartbreak, personal growth. We empathise and maybe see ourselves reflected in the story she’s telling us. She’s also incredibly authentic and vulnerable in her songs, adding to her credibility and relatability. It creates an emotional bond between her and the listener, which for many has lasted almost two decades!

(Plus, her two albums Folklore and Evermore are literally based on fictional characters – talk about telling a story!) So how does any of this relate to market research? Well, I think she really outlines what it is to be a good storyteller. To be visual, to be bold, to be real. To really hammer-home all areas of the story in as many ways as possible. This helps Taylor’s audience understand and relate to her & her journey, creating that emotional bond that has successfully translated into incredible brand loyalty over the years. Yes, there are many other factors playing into her success – but I think she’s a great example of how enhancing a brand’s storytelling can help create a deeply connected audience.