WE Communications Expertise Sector

Drinking the Lemonade: Owning your story

WE Communications Blog: Consumer

— Miesha Swensen 

What’s the buzz? The Queen does it again. Been on the Internet this week? Then you’ve probably seen that Beyoncé released her “visual album” and sixth solo album, Lemonade,” last Saturday evening on HBO.

This raw video is a mix of visuals, spoken word and lyrics telling her journey of self-knowledge and healing as an ode to black women, while highlighting her oh-so-personal marriage challenges. Themes of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are shared throughout the video, hinting at the common cliché, “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade.”

This visual album is unlike anything I have seen before. For communications professionals, “Lemonade” offers a big step forward in the way we rethink storytelling. What do I mean? Well, we usually see pop stars post vignettes matched up with individual songs, but Beyoncé presented fans with a video that tells a longer-form (and very compelling) story. While the album may have a few standalone singles, Beyoncé created an album fans will listen to in full in order to experience her complete story.

Drinking the Lemonade Owning your story

The album extends Beyoncé’s continued efforts to remain in control of her art. Key strategies to draw fans in included releasing the album exclusively on Tidal, a streaming service owned by her husband Jay Z, for 24 hours and teasing the HBO feature, which was available to everyone, one week prior to the premiere. She released and told her story on her terms.

But what if you’re not Beyoncé? The good news is you can still drive a powerful story. Technology is constantly changing, and as artist competition becomes stronger than ever, they’ll continue to use different mediums to share their stories. In the same light, WE brings this transformative storytelling to the many brands we support to reach key audiences in a new, fresh way.

It’s no surprise earned media efforts don’t always go as planned (we’ve all been there). Taking lessons from Beyoncé, brands have the power to own their story by producing multimedia content on their owned channels. Whether it’s specifically about a product or service or a custom docu-series relevant to your audiences, branded content presents a unique opportunity to merge your earned, owned and paid efforts in one medium — something Beyoncé knows quite well.

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