Celebrity Branding Scorecard: Miley Cyrus


Celebrity Brand Scorecards are based on the 5 P’s of Personal Branding: Positioning, Presentation, Passion, Purpose, and Profit. Today, we evaluate the personal brand of singer and actress Miley Cyrus.

Positioning is your story relative to your contemporaries. Miley Cyrus is the “good girl gone bad”, just wild enough to entice young fans but short of the total breakdown image of Lindsay Lohan. With her Disney background and country singer father, Miley comes from wholesome roots, but has “matured” into a provocative and dangerous young woman. Miley Cyrus score: A

Presentation is how you tell your story. The Miley Cyrus transformation from good girl to bad girl began in 2008 when pictures leaked on the internet of the underage star in her underwear, and later that year she appeared to be topless in a series of Annie Leibovitz shots for Vanity Fair. Over the next few years she took on more adult movie roles, and openly discussed her use of marijuana. In 2013 she left Hollywood Records (owned by Disney) and signed a new deal with RCA. She also hired Britney Spears former manager, cut her long hair extremely short, and appeared with Thicke on the MTV awards show. That was followed by the release of the controversial video for “Wrecking Ball” in which she appears naked. Miley Cyrus score: A

Passion is the process by which you maximize your strengths to build your personal brand. Cyrus has absolutely done this. Using her wholesome good looks and southern charm, she built up a massive following around her “Hannah Montana” brand. As she matured, she transformed those looks into a more mature and suggestive brand. She has done a tremendous job of choosing songs that suit her voice and style as it has evolved. Her most recent song “Wrecking Ball” is a perfect example. On the other hand, her acting in the post-Disney era has suffered negative reviews and she has not maximized her profile on screen as we may have expected her to.  Miley Cyrus score: B+

Purpose is the way in which you use your personal brand for greater good. Miley hasn’t been extremely high profile in philanthropic use of her celebrity status, but she hasn’t been altogether invisible either. Despite her baptism into the conservative Southern Baptist Church, she remains an outspoken and ardent supporter of gay rights. Her right hand ring finger has an equals sign tattoed on it, in recognition of her belief in equal rights for all. She has also taken part in Marc Jacobs campaign to raise awareness and funds for melanoma research. While her work has been noble, this is one area where Miley Cyrus could strengthen her personal brand and likely mitigate some of the negative backlash to her provocative image. Miley Cyrus score: B-

Profits measure how successful your personal brand is, either in terms of money, personal satisfaction, or any other metric. Measured purely on financial terms, there is no denying Miley’s strong personal brand. She has earned well over $120 million over the past five years, ranks as the richest teen performer in Hollywood, and has made the list of Hollywood’s most profitable and influential personalities. Miley Cyrus score: A+


The Miley Cyrus personal brand is a well-calculated brand that has evolved and matured wisely.  While her actions have offended many people, the offended people are quite likely not her fans. She has brilliantly stolen the public’s attention at precisely the right time in order to create buzz around her album release. The Miley Cyrus brand can be even stronger if she is able to find acting roles that capitalize on her maturing personality and more attention is paid to using her celebrity status for positive purposes and causes.
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Celebrity Brand Scorecard, Miley Cyrus, Uncategorized 1,228 Comments

Show Up and Rock

night concert

The stereotypical rock star. He shows up drunk. Late. He is rude to the caterers, trashes the dressing room, and makes outrageous demands of everyone around him. Axl Rose, anyone?

I’ve been around enough bands backstage to tell you that the stereotype isn’t very fair to today’s rock star.

Today’s rock star is an entrepreneur. They are business people who understand and value their brand. We can learn from them.

There’s Jon Bon Jovi, overseeing his band like a CEO watches over a business.

There’s Nikki Sixx, splitting his time between family and his radio show, photography, fashion, and bands.

There’s Mick Fleetwood, hosting fans backstage and showing off his band the way a father shows off his children.

Gene Simmons said it nicely when Rolling Stone asked him about the negative way Peter Criss and Ace Frehley portrayed him in their memoirs.

I am the bad guy. I won’t stand for drunks and alcoholics, who get up on stage and consider it their birthright. I consider it a privilege to get up there and arrive on time and be sober, and I’ll be an asshole to anybody who thinks otherwise. You know who else is an asshole? Your teacher was an asshole. Your parents are assholes. Your drill sergeant was an asshole. Because they wouldn’t let you get away with shit. Ace and Peter have had a lifetime of being losers. And not just with drugs and alcohol. They’re losers because of wrong decisions. You sleep in the bed you make. How many chances in life do you get? They were in and out of the band three different times. Why should they get another chance?

Today’s entrepreneur is a rock star. You consider it a privilege to perform. You consider it an honor to engage your fans. You believe that letting them down in any way is a violation of a valued trust.

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Get Real: Personal Branding Lessons From John Mayer


John Mayer hasn’t always done himself the biggest of favors with his personal life and the rather dumb things he has said in the past.

On meeting the right woman: Like, you need to have them be able to go toe-to-toe with you intellectually. But don’t they also have to have a vagina you could pitch a tent on and just camp out on for, like, a weekend?

On his self-confidence: Sometimes I get so bold and I’m so confident about what I’m doing that I actually try to be more of a dork because it’s a really liberating feeling to experience what it’s like to not care.

On dating Jessica Simpson: That girl, for me, is a drug. And drugs aren’t good for you if you do lots of them. Yeah, that girl is like crack cocaine to me.

His relationships with Jennifer Anniston, Taylor Swift, Jessica Simpson, and Katy Perry have been tabloid worthy.

So a few years ago, after career-threatening throat problems, John Mayer quietly turned a bit of a corner.

He started winning back fans.

He did it by using his music to be more transparent and honest about his past mistakes.

He wrote about his womanizing past and desire to change in “Shadow Days”.

On his new album Paradise Valley, John addresses his relationship with Katy Perry by singing about (and with) his on-and-off girlfriend on the song “Who You Love”.

John Mayer isn’t going to win everyone over, but he’s going to connect with a lot of people through his honest approach.

Your personal story is a key element of your personal brand.

You cannot be someone you aren’t. Those people are frauds, and we can all smell them a mile away.

Even as an uber-wealthy rock star, Bruce Springsteen is still the blue-collar working man at heart.

Even as he jets around the world, Jimmy Buffett is still the busker from Key West.

You are who you are.

Your story is your brand.

It doesn’t need to be perfect.

It doesn’t need to be refined.

It just needs to be real.


John Mayer 183 Comments