This post was submitted by contributor Xanthe Teller of Oh Sierra Creative.
Investigating headlines from Meghan Markle’s engagement to Prince Harry, you see words like “unconventional,” “rule-breaking,” “biracial,” “controversial.” You expect to scroll down to see a scantily-clad party-goer, a picketing activist, or a generally rebellious, against-the-grain type of celebrity. But for the most part, what the public knew (or cared) about Meghan Markle prior to the engagement was slim to none, outside of her persona on the pop-culture phenomenon, Suits.
When looking at celebrity branding, it’s not dissimilar from building a character in a movie or television show. There is a team of people seated behind them to determine what their “voice,” should be. And don’t get us wrong — that totally *does* depend on their genuine personality. Many celebrities are *gasp!* people, too. People, first, actually. But just as an Instagram fitness guru or local business owner may represent their “authentic,” selves in the eyes of the public, there are many small facets of their personality that are shed and tucked away when it comes to public perception.
At the root of all celebrities, there is a business. Businesses have core values, they have mission statements, they have brand colours, fonts, logos, community partners, and corporate social responsibility. Swap brand colours out for signature style pieces, community partners out for the lifestyle brands & designers they represent, and corporate social responsibility for their acts of philanthropy, and you’re looking at a parallel branding process.
As her Suits fame grew and her background became a public discussion, Meghan refused to fall into the role of having led a charmed life — despite her father’s success as a photography director in Los Angeles throughout her upbringing. She created an affordable clothing line in 2016, further developing that side of her brand. On top of being considered an of-the-people style maven, a pillar of Meghan’s brand lay in her all-American approachable public appearances, as well as her globe-trotting philanthropy moves. “Humanitarian,” is a word used frequently when discussing the actress.
In our business vs. celebrities parallel, we aren’t looking at a very different rebranding process either. Just like a business acquires strategic partners, celebrities make waves in the media when they link up with fellow celebs romantically. We may know who they are individually, but who are they together?! Businesses frequently undergo a total brand overhaul when they acquire a new ally — and Miss Markle is in for the overhaul of a lifetime.
Meghan’s personal brand was an accessible one, peppered throughout a lifestyle blog entitled The Tig. The blog was like many others — fun & foodie-centric, with a chic and sophisticated face (and a hella sweet font profile, actually!), that focused on DIY deliciousness and lots and lots of travel surrounding social responsibility. A well-branded humanitarian indeed. She did an incredible job of connecting with “the people,” in the sense that it was easy to imagine her testing out new recipes at home, sampling new wines, and enjoying the simpler things in life the way many of us do. In her business relationships, the celebrity was often described as kind, bubbly, and full of smiles.