Lessons in branding from RnB Fridays live line-up

In this posting from the LinkedIn Agency Influencer program, Carat's Andrew Hardeman looks for the marketing messages demonstrated by acts including Fatman Scoop, Kelis and Ne-Yo

The humble start to RnB Fridays on the Fox has in the space of two years picked up a cult following of adoring fans willing to pay big money to experience it live.

And this year, I was one of them.

After missing out on attending last year’s inaugural event, I was eager to make up for lost time.

Dancing in the aisles, singing at the top of my lungs, endless Instagram stories and other general “woo girl” behaviour was a plenty.

But, as I watched each of the different artists performing I started to become curious about how unique each one really was.

Some delivered what was expected and loved, others focused on the performance, while a select few tried completely new things.

It got me thinking about how each artist used their performance to build their own personal brand.

SO – what did I take away from their performances? What can marketers learn from the RnB Friday class of 2017?

Fatman Scoop

Branding lesson: Experiences outside of the final product can have just as much of an impact on the final customer perception of it.

The loveable host made breaks between acts enjoyable. Fatman Scoop entertained the crowd and ended up becoming an equally valuable part of the line-up. He understood the importance of providing a great service and experience that added value to the entire evening.

Outtake: Focus on what value your brand can offer above and beyond the products it sells to create a more desirable experience with it.


Branding lesson: It’s ok to be a specialist, good at something specific and niche.

Mario had a 15-minute set – I’m told this is extremely short when it comes to performances! And you know what, it was one of the best.

Why? He played the one song he was really well known for (and everyone wanted to hear) and only two others then got off stage.

Outtake: As brands continue to explore and stretch into culture, be mindful of straying to far from what your brand really offers.

En Vogue

Branding lesson: Be consistent in how you communicate with others.

Every chord was hit and every move made in unison. The performance was excellent because of the consistency of delivery, not one individual.

The performance was what people expected based on their previous experiences with the music and everyone was happy because of it.

Outtake: Focus on building consistency in message, meaning and personality over time to create stronger memory structures between consumers and your brand.


Branding lesson: To stand out, you need to be provocative

Wow. Just wow. Kelis donned a tailored jump suit and a boss attitude to match.

Of course her performance was second to none.

BUT – it was how she delivered it and the personality she conveyed through it that won the crowd over.

Outtake: Ensure your brand has an opinion on matters, is bold and stands out from the crowd. The worst thing to be is expected.

Kelly Rowland

Branding lesson: Create opportunities for experiences beyond just exposure.

Without doubt one of the most passionate, professional and entertaining performances of the evening.

BUT – the most enjoyable part involved Kelly bringing two women from the crowd onto the stage for a special intimate dance with her supporting dance cast.

The act immediately got the crowd more engaged and deepened her connection with them.

Outtake: Build more opportunities for consumers to interact with your brand to get more personal value from it.


Branding lesson: Be transparent and authentic about who you are.

Ne-Yo delivered with energy and passion – seriously he went through about five towels of sweat!

BUT – most interestingly his performance started without him wearing his well-known fedora.

Ne-Yo preceded to let the crowd know after a few songs that “they may have noticed something different about him” and that “I’m ok with who I am, I don’t need to hide anymore”.

While it may seem trivial, it was clear this was an issue early on in his career and now he has embraced who he is completely. It was refreshing to see an artist be so open and honest beyond the entertainment.

Outtake: Create a glass box when it comes to your brand so people can see in at any part they like. Give people all access to your brand – give them more control.

Craig David

Branding lesson: Innovation is good, but only if it satisfies existing needs in new and novel ways.

Craig David is an incredible talent and has reinvented himself in the past few years.

The problem? The majority of people attending wanted to hear the classics – 7 days, what’s your flavor, etc – not his new direction.

The innovative style was admired by many, but it didn’t satisfy the existing need people had who were there to see the “old Craig”.

Outtake: Always innovate based on customer needs, not your companies desires or thoughts.

Sean Paul

Branding lesson: Create an image, image is everything

Sean Paul has crafted an image that people desire to experience and see. Whatever you think, Sean Paul was the headline act and people couldn’t wait.

While he may seem difficult to understand at times – and his dance moves less refined than other performers – Sean Paul is just a person YOU HAVE TO SEE.

Outtake: Continue to build an emotional story into your brands reason for being to connect with your audience beyond what the brand offers. Give people a reason to buy the brand.

Christina Milian, Monifah & Ruff Endz

Branding lesson: Always put the customer at the heart of what you do, always.

All of these artists were on before 6:00. And, I am sure they were incredible.

BUT – I did not see any of them.

You know why? I was working.

Outtake: The fundamentals of right time, right place and right moment will always be important.

Andrew Hardeman is strategy director at Carat

This article is part of the LinkedIn Agency Influencer program. See more from the program by clicking on the banner below.


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