Drag has become a global industry, with personal, individual and product brands flourishing and growing. From big brands such as RuPaul’s Drag Race and Dragcon, to product brands such as Drag Queen Merch. Then you have each of the personal brands, such as Trixie Mattel from Drag Race, Landon Cider, from Dragula (run by the famous Boulet Brothers), and The Vivienne from Drag Race UK, with their own product lines, merchandise, music, and other services.
What we can learn about branding from these brands is invaluable. In fact, many drag artists have made their name through an excellent and intentional social media and online presence, such as Aquaria, who had a strong following before even participating in Drag Race.
So, what are some of the lessons they can teach us about branding, social media, and building a cult following? Whether it is for your pole studio, your merchandise brand, or simply to take your business branding to the next level.
What do all these brands have in common? They are larger than life!
Drag Queens and Kings (and their events, products and merch) are perfect examples of using personality and character to elevate your brand. What is larger than life than a 2 foot wig, 3 pairs of eyelashes, and a death drop?
They demonstrate the fact that being a hyper-accentuated version of yourself is a great way to engage your audience. Being fun and bringing entertainment to your branding can be one of the most powerful ways to engage your potential customers or clients.
Miss Vanessa Vanjie Mateo is a perfect example of how a larger than life personality can help to catapult your brand. As she exited the Drag Race runway, backwards, repeating ‘Miss Vanjieeee’, she captured the hearts of the drag watching world. She may have been on only 1 episode for her first season, but she was unforgettable, and she became a fan favourite. Vanjie is now one of the biggest recent stars to come out of Drag Race, and has a powerful brand connected to her charm and charisma.
Now, you don’t need an iconic catch phrase, or to wear a sequin dress or buy 8 inch heels (although we do love doing these things anyway *wink*), but you need to think whether your audience knows who you are. This doesn’t need to be YOU, but your company, business or brand. Show them the personality of your brand – this doesn’t need to be over-the-top, it can simply be about what is important to you, what kind of vibe you give off.
What are you about? What are you passionate about? If you don’t tell, we don’t know. So, spill the tea and tell us who the fuck you are.
Drag is a thriving industry because the key players create relationships with their fans. Their fans can buy custom videos from them, chat to them during Instagram Lives, get their questions answered on YouTube videos, and tag them in their stories wearing their merchandise.
They first show them their personality, and then engage them in a type of virtual friendship, building strong bonds and brand loyalty.
Excitingly, you can create this with your clients easily. Use social media to engage them in your brand through polls or asking them questions. Go Live and chat to them about what you’re up to. Get them to tag you in their social media posts, and run contests. Encourage them to see your brand as a community that they are a member of.
More so, when you have a face-to-face component for your brand (such as in-studio classes), you get to create even more authentic connections and relationships. You can nurture your brand’s relationships through rewarding your regular members, throwing social events, and celebrating each other in class.
So, hop on that Facebook Live and have a kiki with your followers, they’ll be gagging in no time.
Drag artists are creatives! There is a reason we call them ‘artists’ after all. They each have their own unique personality, approach, look, and style. Whether this is a colour palette, a quirky sense of humour, a particular decade of fashion, or something else – each drag artist has something that makes them an original. They are unique, and special, and wonderful, and that’s why we love them!
What is original about you or your brand? Think about the ways you can bring a unique twist to your social media that will help you stand out of the crowd.
Lots of people make the mistake of looking at their competition, or studying what the industry already does, and then applying that to their own social media branding. The issue with this is you all end up looking similar, sounding similar, and posting the same stuff!
Just because one approach worked for someone else, doesn’t mean it will necessarily work for you. Find a way to create a unique and interesting social media branding strategy that conveys who you are authentically.
True innovation and originality come when you can take something that has been done many times before (whether that is drag, pole dance, pole clothing, or studio classes) and give them an original twist in your branding. Synthesise ideas. Look at different industries and see what you can be inspired by. Think outside the box.
You Better Werk
Your social media branding may be great… for one post, or one week, or one month. Then, you run out of steam and it starts slowly ebbing away. You are out of inspiration, and don’t know what to do next.
If you want your social media branding to be successful you need to WERK henny… and I mean, posting consistently, reiterating your brand values regularly, creating amazing marketing materials, and always innovating what you’re doing so you’re one step ahead.
Branding isn’t a one time gig. It isn’t ordering your logo and then dusting your hands like “Ahhh yes, now I have successfully re-branded my business.” NO, branding is constant and ongoing. You must always be in the mindset, with everything you post – ‘What does this add to my brand? What does this tell my followers or clients about us? How does this fit into our story?’
Drag artists are consistent, you will always find them posting new promotional materials, going live on their instagram accounts, or doing new photoshoots or shows. They don’t take a week off their social media! Why? Because showing up is half the work.
You want more followers on instagram? Be consistent. You want your brand to be seen on Facebook? Keep delivering great content. You want your products to be shared online? Create a community through social media.
The Drag world does it, and so can you!
Who is your favourite drag artist? Why are they your favourite? Think about what they do to engage you on social media, and how they communicate their branding to you.
Then, think about how you can add that bit of Drag glitter to your own brand to make it shine.
Bring a bit more Drag to your life – let me know how it goes in the comments.
My online branding course for pole dance studios is available on my training website. Check it out – The Magic of Better Branding. Join me to learn how you can manifest a pole studio of your dream through powerful branding techniques that you can apply to your business immediately.