Personal Branding and Marketing Lessons from “The King” Elvis Presley

When an individual is known by one name or by an equally recognizable nickname, they have achieved the pinnacle of personal branding success. There is no question that Elvis Presley reached this level as his brand continues to resonate today.  I visited Graceland a few years ago and picked up some interesting facts about “The King” and his career that can be applied to personal branding for any individual.    There is no denying that when most people hear the name Elvis, they instantly have an image of a man in a white jumpsuit.  But why is it these icons live on in our culture long after the individual is gone? The answer is simple, personal branding. If there is anything we can learn from Elvis, it is that with the right personality, talent, image and marketing of a brand, individuals can become a household name.  This is especially true for Elvis, seeing as his estate racked up $55 million last year. By looking at Elvis’ style, passion, talent and diversity, we are provided with some helpful strategies we all can apply to our brands.

With a sound and style uniquely his own, Elvis Presley changed the face of the music industry and became one of the most important figures in 20th century music. Being identifiable around the world simply by your first name definitely takes a lot of marketing of your brand and a style unique enough to be unlike any other in the world. Elvis is known famously for his white jumpsuits and elaborate outfits during his performances that caught the attention of millions. It is estimated, by Graceland archives manager Angie Marchese, that there are about 120 jumpsuits that Elvis had custom designed for him over the years

His style, including side burns, hair and jumpsuits, is still being emulated by children on Halloween and by countless impersonators around the world. As a social media icon of today, Lady Gaga understands this concept since her style is a key part of her brand and why she has close to 27 million Twitter followers.  Elvis serves an example that marketing a personal brand or company requires a distinctive style that can be easily differentiated from the competition. Companies should make it a high priority to create a style or message that is memorable and worth following.

It is clear that Elvis was passionate about music.  Passion should carry over into your company and be reflected in your branding image. When you are passionate about what you do in your personal and business lives, clients, prospects and others will be drawn to you.   The first impression matters but continuing to provide content and information that is helpful, memorable and interesting keeps fans and followers coming back for more.   Elvis was able to completely captivate millions by being passionate about something that he loved. Performing brought joy to his life and the lives of many others. When creating a marketing plan for your company, demonstrate your passion, skills and unique approaches. No doubt, Elvis would stand out in a crowded room simply by the way he dressed, but his personality and talent completed the package.  All businesspeople seeking to create a buzz need to have a complete marketing plan for themselves and their businesses.  Success does not come overnight for most, having a plan will keep you on the right course.

Remaining committed to the goal at hand and letting your talents shine through is an aspect of Elvis’s life that can be translated into a relevant marketing tip in today’s world. “Elvis Presley was not a singer-songwriter. He had a unique talent for interpreting songs and injecting his own brand of emotion, energy, and feeling into them.” Elvis knew that he was a gifted singer and musician but did not have the knack for writing songs. Therefore, he focused on his talents and found others to provide the music and lyrics to complete the package. We all need to identify our weaknesses to play to our strengths. The best plan of action is admitting your limitations and working with what advantages you have. Rather than trying to take on everything, do what you excel at and allow others to help you fill in the gaps.

Differentiation is something that is sought after by many, but achieved by few. Elvis combined a diversity of musical influences, providing a new generation with a unique sound to call its own. By creating new music and communicating through different mediums, he was able to provide content that his fans craved. He was, and still is, able to attract millions and keep them interested.  This is an example that should be followed when trying to market a business or your personal brand. By adapting and offering different kinds of content, be it videos, blogs or special media posts, you are able to reach different audiences or sub groups.  This will allow you to connect with more people on a regular basis.  When marketing your business, remain open to all the different groups of people and plan to reach as many groups as possible in order to maximize results.

Elvis shared a connection with his fans unlike any other during his time. “In 1956 it took 9 secretaries at the fan club headquarters to open all of Elvis’s fan mail.” In today’s world, that enormous amount of fan mail would undoubtedly translate into millions of Facebook fans and Twitter followers. Elvis’ presence in the social media world would rival some of the top celebrities and stars of our time that have followers in the millions. Elvis was able to give his fans what they wanted when he was on the stage, but just imagine the kind of audience he could have connected to with tens of millions of followers on Twitter and Facebook.   Aside from his strong presence on radio and records, Elvis was also able to reach his fans through other mediums, such as television. “His 1973 special, Elvis – Aloha from Hawaii, was seen in 40 countries by 1 billion to 1.5 billion people, making television history.” He was an innovator by using the technology of his time to capture audiences around the world. By appearing in front of everyone on their televisions during these record breaking specials, he provided his fans with a feeling of a strong personal connection to him and his personal brand.  Few other performers have enjoyed such close and emotional connection with fans.  Having a presence in multiple media channels is an important aspect of a sound marketing plan. Using mediums such as television, radio, print and social media will allow you to market your brand more effectively than would be possible on only one of these media outlets.  In the end you may not be “The King,” but you can have tens of thousands of fans or more online and in the real world with the right approach, message, image and content.


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