Branding management is about managing the brand of a company or institution. This management is permanent and supports the company or the institution throughout its “life”. It is about telling and rooting a “story” that will constitute its territory and its identity. It will allow it to accelerate its development as well as to cope with potential crises.
The demise of Johnny Hallyday just reminded those who had forgotten it that stars are also brands that must be managed and that produce similar effects.
Branding management applies to stars and companies alike. Over time, a star’s brand can become so powerful that it goes beyond the stage of recognition by the public and is more or less deeply rooted on the emotional ground. Then, commercial marketing and personal marketing combine to ensure the strength and durability of the brand’s star.
Without a doubt, “Johnny” is one of these “brands”, beyond the person of Jean-Philippe Smet. His first name is enough to trigger a precise vision of himself, his works, his escapades and his attachments. Beyond the rational, it is the two-way relationship between the audience and the empathic artist who created this extraordinary brand and this indelible trace. Another iconic example could be Beyoncé. It is now one of the most powerful brands in the music industry. After creating her band Destiny’s Child at 9 years old only, she will remain the band leader for a long time before starting a solo career. She has become an icon, embodying at once multiple images: defender of neo-feminism, mother, businesswoman, philanthropist etc. In 2014, she was named “the most influential person in the world” by Time and “the most powerful celebrity in the world” by Forbes. Certainly thanks to her talent, but above all thanks to an omnipresent marketing management, Beyoncé managed to become “Queen B” and to build a financial empire – valued at nearly a billion dollars – in collaboration with her husband, the rapper JAY Z.
Obviously, the strongest brands are those that manage to go over the professional recognition to settle on the emotional and unconscious grounds. And here too, it is true for both stars and companies.
Apple, which has long been identified with its iconic founder Steve Jobs, has succeeded in building an image far beyond its products, reaching the emotional aspect of consumers. In fact, design and technological advances do not only explain the success of the apple brand. It has become indispensable, as evidenced by the overwhelming presence of Apple products in movies and shows. The American giant has managed to build a special link with its users by creating a real community of ambassadors, advocates and even fans who become hysterical when a new phone is released.
It is the same for stars; their ability to be part of the national or even international emotion, in the case of Michael Jackson, is what distinguishes mega stars from other artists or sportsmen.
Thus, Johnny Hallyday, during nearly sixty years of career, managed to remain a French symbol, to whom everyone could identify with, a powerful and federative brand which is part of the French novel, the triumphant consumer society, and then the economic crisis. Neither his exile, nor his troubles with the Tax Authorities, or his excesses widely commented by the media tarnished his image. The idol of youth remained the idol of parents then grandparents while becoming idol of their children then grandchildren. During his speech Place de la Madeleine, President Emmanuel Macron reminded that Johnny Hallyday is part of France and part of every French person. His death gathered almost as many people as the tribute of January 11, 2015
It remains to be seen whether the image of an individual can survive to the person who embodies it.
In the case of Johnny Hallyday, no doubt that commercial marketing will rely on the personal marketing to keep the flame alive and, as long as possible, to “Allumer le feu.”