Lady Gaga Innovation: Ten Lessons
- Experiment Innovation requires the ability to experiment, and along with that, the ability to let go of things that don’t work. Failure should be a lesson, not a marathon to rehabilitate the mistake. Don’t experiment in a linear, overly cautious way. Experiment with a bit of abandon and watch carefully for workable outcomes. Kill what doesn’t work quickly and spend time with promising ideas—not so much time that you nurture them to death, but long enough that you understand how to make the idea commercial—then turn it loose so the operations people can start learning from their experiments.
- Innovation Delivers What People Want A great idea that nobody buys may still be a great idea, but it isn’t an innovation. Innovations change experiences and they change people. Some of DaVinci’s great work wasn’t innovative because it never left his personal notebook, and when it did, it was far too late to influence anything, regardless of its awe-inspiring insight. If you want to be innovative, you have to put ideas into the market, and Gaga knows all about inserting herself into the market.
- Borrow from Those Who Came Before Or steal with no regrets. Let your conscience be your guide. Chances are you aren’t creating something entirely new, be it a product or an experience. School yourself in people who have attempted to do what you are attempting to do and let that knowledge infiltrate your creation. Sure, you have to pay license fees for directly borrowed IP, but inspiration remains free.
- Differentiate Even if you borrow, that doesn’t mean copy. Innovation is about differentiation—different combinations that define the person, the product or the service. You can’t differentiate if you don’t know the competition—so again, study history and study the competition. Innovations are recognized by how they make a product, service or experience different for others in the same market. Getting to par doesn’t cut it.
- Be the Brand It is hard to be innovative if you don’t know what you stand for. Innovation should reinforce the brand. Something innovative may come out of a skunkworks that is orthogonal to the brand, and that’s fine, but it either needs to be aligned and integrated or spun off. Innovation is useless if all it does is confuse consumers.
- Don’t Sit Still The deep breath and the pat on the back may be just what you need after a grueling day, but they are also the momentary lapse that triggers competitors to pounce. Being innovative means keeping up the pace. When you slow down and start thinking about retirement, just retire, because the slower pace means it’s already over. Someday Gaga will slow down and we will reminisce about her drive. You can’t tie innovation lessons to a single icon. You need to decide how you are going to fuel your drive. Only companies, not individuals, can create truly sustainable innovation because they can develop an infrastructure of policy and practices that permit experiments, failures and reinventions over long periods of time.
- Innovation Takes Place in Realtime Today’s innovation takes place before the world. There may be some cloistered meetings here and there, but real innovation takes place on a public stage, and you know if it is good or bad within minutes of presenting the idea.
- Strange Combinations Don’t look just to your domain for innovative inspiration. Gaga is integrating computing technology, social media, couture, music, visual arts and many other ideas into the experiences she creates. Lyrics and music are just the starting point, or perhaps the mid-point, as various influences drive musical and lyric formulation and other turn notes and words into experiences.
- Deliver on Expectations Everything up to this point is about creating a set of expectations in the mind of the consumer. Some call delivering on the brand promise. In businesses, that consumer may be an employee, a partner or a customer. Innovation doesn’t stop until you deliver on the promise.
- Be Brave Lady Gaga flaunts her contrarian interpretations of culture, and by doing so, redefines it. She is unabashedly confronting conventional wisdom and conventional approaches. Organizations that want to innovate need to be brave, relying on a deep-seated trust in their work, and not on benchmarking studies about how other organizations are doing things. The brave recognize risks worth taking.
Download the PDF: The 10s – Ten Lessons You Can Learn About Innovation by Studying Lady Gaga
TOP. I like it.
The Artful Scribbler says
On the one hand I think Gaga has no business passing herself off as a musician, since her music is forgettable. And yet she is wildly successful. She is famous for her antics, rather than her musical talent. But again, the antics are more than paying her bills. Who is to blame for this dichotomy?
Cool post, maybe the older generations can learn something from Lady Gaga and the young entrepreneurs of today! Congrats on being on FP!
Lady Googoogaga says
Great list as a Gaga fan and also as someone who looks for keys to success!!
College Blogger says
Great post. She has successfully gained near-universal appeal, captivating so many different audiences. And she is definitely the most modern example of innovation leading to success.
With the exception of “Delivering on Expectations” this list is brilliant. I principally disagree with the word, “Expectations” in the world of marketing. What they should be is a standard of excellence. You are delivering to your standard of excellence. Your clients should “Expect” nothing less. I realize this in essence says the same thing but something about the wording makes more sense to me. Great work!
That’s a pretty insightful article. It’s good to see beyond the screen adn into the strategy that a person is applying in real life to promote herself. True, that the spirit of experitmentaiton and calculated risk to redefine the mundane could just be extrapolated to company lifecycles as well. Good stuff! Thanks.
Gaga has taken the stage from forerunners like Madonna, and every other women that has sought fame for the sake of being famous. Sure sex and controversy sells. It is therein that her “brilliance” lies. or is it brilliance at all? If all she has done is go to the next extreme of selling her body and soul in exchange of fame and fortune, how stale is that. Resembles the Judas she herself aspires to. It is a sad day that it has been made cool and trendy to hate, betray, lust, cultivate greed the list goes on. It is all self destruction, as old as humanity. No innovation in lady gaga!
“Borrow from Those Who Came Before Or steal with no regrets.”
Great borrowing from Picasso! “Bad artists copy. Great artists steal”.
I’m a poet. Sure I steal. But I make sure my branding iron is hot and that my brand is there on the words for everyone to see.
Greetings from Scotland,
nice one! u give the best example, lady gaga, where everyone knows her… easier for others to understand the concept
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Confessions of a Super Virgin says
Haha great concept! So true!
Karmen D. says
I notice many people criticising her, calling what she does stupid and repulsive while they wouldn’t dare to do half the things she does. I mean, you don’t have to like her, just admit you don’t have the guts. I admit I don’t and I’m fine with myself.
Is it guts to self destruct for the sake of entertainment? She is seeking iconic immortalization, just a pity that all the seats have been taken…all that she has done has already been done, only most of humanity would prefer their shame and guilt to be hidden from view, in stead of broadcast on the world stage. It is this proud display of all that is vile that makes her the poorest soul, worthy of our utmost pity. She has detested herself enough to want to become the very things that enslaves us. Nothing worth celebrating or esteeming in gaga. The worst of it is that she is a reflection of the human condition, we are drawn to her like a moth to the light because these same desires live in us. There is hope! redemptiongroups.com
Good tips, nice blog!
I’m not big on Lady Gaga, but I think you have interesting points here.
You may want to check out today’s post as a follow-up to reading this one: http://danielwrasmus.wordpress.com/2011/08/24/lady-gaga-angry-birds-and-the-separation-of-social-media-states/
CK Hunter says
Lady Gagme doesn’t even write her own music. Surely you jest here.
Even if that were true, the lessons are no less impactful, and her success no less interesting. Perhaps I should add a number 11 which is: you can’t innovate and deliver that innovation to a global audience all by yourself.
Great tips. Thanks for sharing!
Carmon Thomas says
Aha! I’m going to implement some of your ideas right away…if it’s innovative I’ll let you know. 🙂 Maybe I won’t have to! :))
Funnily enough I do try this with my reviews and news. Someone told me ages ago that’s what Gaga did her degrees for. Marketing, business and psychology. Very clever girl from we could all learn a few lessons. She is exactly where she wants to be and not many people can say that.
I find this post insightful and extremely cynical at the same time. Scary.
Addora Live @ vibrators says
I admire Lady Gaga for having the courage to do and say the things that she believes in. Many love her that is why she is popular and everything she endorses become a sensation in the market.
Is it her we should admire or her PR team?
I admire her, she’s a people worthy of respect. She has a brave heart.
WNC Travel Intelligence says
Great article. I’m subscribing.
Wow this is a really good insight on the way lady gaga markets herself and gets herself out there. I Have only been blogging over the last month about Music Industry production and distribution but this post is very very interesting!
Perfect Symmetry says
Companies need to reinvent themselves and these are great points.
Olivia K says
I have seen Lady Gaga interviewed on this subject. She openly admits that she studied fame: how people got it, and how they kept it. From there, she simply followed the model. She is not so much innovative as brilliant.
Not sure you can be innovative without being smart. Hard to know if you get it right or not, and how to sense when to change and adapt, and when to offend.
Chems Luc says
I knew more the queen’s son gaga than the person you talk about;
But no matter, I have read about her, and in resume, she made in practice an old proverb saying: be different and you will be known;
It’s a kind of marketing, of course, but not absolutely good if you have some ethics to respect;
But the ten points you said resume some strategically innovation theories;
Lorraine Liu says
I love all the 10 lessons! they dont only apply to innovation, it apply to how to stand out and present yourself to the crowd too! I think this is what I really need right now.
I really mean that it is a lesson, or, the great
Scott Mackenzie says
Fun blog posting. Thanks for the reminder on number 2, I’ve had a full length novel in my computer for 2, maybe 3 years. When I wrote it I was on a misson-I wrote every single Sunday at the beach for 6 months, then finished it. But the book is like many of my paintings- that dont go out of my house. Someday. I guess that’s what I like about blogging, I can just do it, even post a picture of something I’ve created and its out of my house. Thanks for the insights.
Heather B (@heatherbogus) says
This is a great commentary on how marketing innovation in pop culture can be hugely influential. Love her or hate her (I personally LOVE her), one must admit she has done an amazing job building herself into a powerhouse brand with longevity and extremely loyal followers.
Very good. She is all that you have said and more.
You have written an interesting and entertaining article.
I’m 62 years old and I guess you could say I am a fan of Lady Gaga.
She has an incredible voice.
Without the “True voice” add-ons she can hold and twist and bend a note forever.
I heard an older critic say, “She is something like Madonna, but her voice is better and she’s a better dancer.”
She’s an inspiration and a definite spark of light in our times.
I think Lady Gaga is creepy and sends a bad message sometimes….but with that said, I respect her for being different and taking risks. Love her or hate her, you have to admit she stands out and gets attention. Thats why she is famous.
thank you for this tips help me a lot
A Pakistani Boy says
I love Lady Gaga and you have done a very good job. I sometimes think the same way. She is amazing and lights up our minds to be innovative too 🙂
A Quirk of Fate says
You did a great job of bottling her success into a few generalized rules, kudos!
I hope this does not come across as a (negative) criticism of GaGa or the criteria used to asses her in this blog post. I have a different perspective (actually, I think multiple perspectives!) but I do not disagree with what you wrote. I just see GaGa from a different angle.
I hope you find my thoughts of interest, anyway.
As I see it the most striking thing about the GaGa phenomena is that all the praise being leveled at GaGa is actually praise for corporatism (and ultimately corporate fascism). GaGa is being used fantastically well as a ‘front end’ for corporate marketing/ branding and 21st century consumerism.
What makes GaGa seem authentic as an ‘artist’ is – paradoxically and hilariously – the fact that she totally embraces her totally inauthentic position as corporate ‘front end’ (as opposed to genuine Artist with a capital A).
How far we have come!
Only a few years ago wholly manufactured bands drew scorn (even from mainstream consumers). In fact elaborate stories were often spun by labels about how such-and-such a boy band got together quite naturally and then were miraculously ‘discovered’ ….. whereas the truth is that they answered ads, auditioned, were selected to fit specific criteria, sent to a boot camp, groomed, given a backstory and generally manufactured to be a ‘product’ targeted at a specific demographic and backed by a relentless marketing campaign ensuring maximum (albeit short term) returns for the label. And destroying – or even ‘polluting’ – the music industry and dumbing down culture as a consequence…..
GaGa represents the next generation and the next logical progression of this ‘corporatization’ of music and youth culture – as I said already she is not even interested in authenticity – she is/was always a corporate sell out from the start, now rebranded as a ‘fame monster’ and incorporated into her manufactured persona. In fact being a ‘sell out’ and not caring is integral to her persona!
When all of culture is inauthentic there is no horizon, no up or down, and so if you proclaim being a sell out/ fame monster to be a cool thing to be … it is!
Running parallel to this we have a new generation of kids – I mean young consumers – who have been brought up on a wholly artificial, inauthentic and corporatized culture. They have nothing to compare it to and so inevitably to them this is normal – just as they see CCTV cameras in the playground as ‘normal’ or thumb scans to get school meals as ‘normal’.
This new generation is going wild for the very same process of auditioning and manufacturing of money spinner music acts that we scoffed at 15 years ago in the form of TV shows like X-factor and BGT/ AGT. The cynical market research and grooming of acts to make them into lucrative products is actually now being sold back to us to us as a form of entertainment in itself! And we LOVE IT! It is pure genius when you think about it. (And it is destroying the music industry and culture too in the long term of course).
Back to GaGa…. and we haven’t even touched on the other agendas and messages which this brand called ‘Lady GaGa’ endorses through its music and videos. Everything from transhumanism to trauma based mind control to freemasonry to satanism to police state have been promoted (made sexy and fashionable) through her videos. This is how we know she is NOT in control of much of her image, videos and ‘message’.
She is a slave (willing or not) to the same agenda which is mirrored in all other ‘artists’ in this league (Jay-Z, Rihanna, Minaj, Spears, Madonna, Swift, the list goes on….). They all incorporate the same messages and imagery and look (‘vibe’) in their videos – far too much for it to be a coincidence, or merely trend!
GaGa also plays her part obediently in the music industry’s high profile rituals such as this one.
Lady GaGa videos (like all A-list corporate pop videos these days) are full of very sophisticated messages, symbolism, imagery, theme and concepts on multiple levels. The same is true of Hollywood movies, TV and all advertising. They may dumb us down – but that doesn’t mean they aren’t sophisticated in themselves (in terms of information and communication of that information).
Yet these days we only ever hear about the ‘innovation’, the ‘success’, the ‘achievements’ of such ‘artists’ with regards to their level of fame/ success (in terms of position in the hierarchy, rather than more abstract, personal achievements) as well as financial gains and dominance in the market.
These all represent the language of corporatism, not the language of art and culture!
And thus I would define GaGa (without praise OR condemnation) as musical, fashionable, vogue corporatism in action.
PS I wrote an article on GaGa branding here
Thank you for the thoughtful response. The obsession with innovation is a corporate-driven one as well. If people or corporations want to learn how to succeed in a way that Lady Gaga has done, then they need to study what she has done. There are, as you suggest, other approaches to the world and other perspectives about were leadership should come from. In this case, the audience interested in innovation, as many of my clients are, need to look at her for lessons learned, thus I offered this post.
“…If people or corporations want to learn how to succeed in a way that Lady Gaga has done, then they need to study what she has done….”
Hmmm… I think this does need to be specified / quantified. I mean what HAS she done?! To measure success one surely needs to know what exactly has been achieved AND what the objectives were at the outset. This is actually the most interesting (and in many ways disturbing) aspect of GaGa.
For example I read recently that she is actually pretty broke after a recent spat of touring – but that she doesn’t really care anyway because her goal was all about achieving *fame* anyway…. at all costs. This is after all the culture that the corporations making up the music biz and mass media have been pushing for a couple of decades now: fame, fame, fame!
Not artistic integrity, having something to say, being original, being authentic, being self relient, having integrity, having CONTROL. No, they want the youth interested in fame only – fame which naturally only corporations can provide (now that they have taken control of the industry) – fame on THEIR TERMS and in line with THEIR agendas and business strategies.
This is why I suggest the GaGa phenomena is more a case of corporate success that the personal success of an artist.
IF GaGa had any kind of original, unique, inspiring, challenging and controversial message that was all her own and she STILL managed to reach an audience with it, then we might indeed be able to lay praise at her feet and call her a genuine ‘successful artist’.
But calling GaGa a ‘successful artist’ for being picked up by the industry and rebranded from broadway style singer songwriter piano player (which she was initially) to FAME MONSTER in oh-so-krazy outfits, is rather like calling someone a ‘successful athlete’ for being willing to be strapped to the front of a train in some olympian pose as part of a marketing drive by a train company!
Sure, such an athlete may achieve the ‘1 minute mile’ but it’s not really *their* achievement *as an athlete* is it?!
And like I said GaGa’s message and look along with the very specific themes her videos (see my previous comment) are EXACTLY THE SAME as those promoted by other big name ‘artists’ which the industry has created through its literal ability to market an act into the charts. This tells us something very important: that the industry is largely responsible for the brand GaGa and that she is really just a suitable and willing canvas for their purposes.
This is the exact opposite of the traditional relationship where the music industry would offer its services to the recording artist to help the artist communicate his/her message to the public. Today we have the situation where so many of the big name ‘artists’ are offering their services (youth, looks, charisma etc) to the corporate industry to facilitate the communication of corporate messages to the public (thinly disguised as entertainment and fashion).
This is the elephant in the room. Most people don’t see it because we have never considered pop culture to be a useful means of communicating sophisticated ‘propaganda/ marketing’ messages. Yet any decent analysis of a modern big name music video will prove otherwise! (see links in my previous comment for examples of such analysis).
GaGa is therefore to the music industry what supermodels are to the fashion industry. The only difference is that we still live in an age where music artists are supposed to (at least pretend to) write their own music and be in control of their own message and image… in other words we still like our music artists to be authentic. The music industry today employs huge resources (and collaborates with the corporate media in a symbiotic relationship) in order to manufacture that ‘authenticity’. Manufactured authenticity is a complete contradiction of course!
One can certainly recognize such achievements – and celebrate them too I suppose. All I’m saying is that we should heap praise where it is due (at the gates of corporatism, not GaGa herself) and be aware that such ‘progress’ is without doubt destroying music (and art and culture in general) and heralding in a new age of corporatism. History tells us that such fervent embrace of corporatism generally a precursor to true fascism taking hold of a society.
And I think it is a valid question: if the marriage of corporations and the state defines fascism, what do we call the marriage of corporations and art?
Good tips, but I think Gaga has lost a lot of her edge and appeal in the last year and a half or so.
Werner Gorzalka says
You are wrong with this assumption in point 6:
“Only companies, not individuals, can create truly sustainable innovation because they can develop an infrastructure of policy and practices that permits experiments, failures and reinventions over long periods of time.
Individuals can go very much farer than industrie voire teams. There are many examples like the Russian mathematician or Edison.
Teams oder companies are much overestimated.
Good post. I don’t like Lady Gaga … at all but I could learn a thing or two from her about being successful! wow. =)
AK Angelo Kangleon says
I love #8. It’s a formula that always works, whether it’s an outfit, a little nook you’re trying to redecorate, a bookshelf you are trying to fill.
Eva McCane says
great blog! i think lady gaga is a branding genius. i’m not totally into all of her music, but i respect her ability to entertain. thanks for sharing!
I honestly do not care for Lady Gaga, but she does know how to get attention and keep it. Great observations can be gathered about how humans work just by studying her and her popularity. I personally feel she is fake, but she sells it.
Gaga is the epitome of creativity! I love her music, choice of outfits, music videos, everything!
website designer delhi says
lady gaga like madona has experimented a lot with her looks. Her success is truly inspiring and so is this post. Thanks for sharing
I admire Lady Gaga. She’s a strange one, but she’s not afraid to be who she is, which is more than most people.
Congrats on being FP;)
sry to disappoint you guys, but ms gaga is was produced inside a factory.
That does not mean we cannot learn by observing and analyzing. We should all have such manufactured economic success.
Thanks for all the Little Monster love today, and also to the not-Gaga fans that still like the post! A key to innovation is to discover ideas wherever they come from, and whatever the context.
PCC Advantage says
I am not a Lady Gaga fan at all, but there is no denying that she is highly successful and intelligent – she brands herself like an old pro.
Great post and congrats on being Freshly Pressed! 🙂
Hafsa K says
I aint exactly the biggest fan of Lady Gaga, but her courage and confidence and belief in herself really ought to be appreciated!
Wonderful Post! And Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!
Retail WTF says
Love the concept. We happen to be working on a retail promotional project about another famous woman from the 1860s (Adah Issacs Menken) who may well have been America’s first Lady Gaga. She was also called The Benicia Girl, based on her relationship with America’s first sports superhero bare-knuckle boxer, John Heenen, or the Benicia Boy. We came up with the same idea of what we could learn from this, so I love what you say here. Thanks.
Kathryn McCullough says
Thanks for sharing these fascinating strategies. Great post. And congrats on FP. Hang on for the ride!
Elle Bomb says
I don’t like Lady Gaga, but these are great tips. Very well put!
Fuse Chamber says
Love this article! thanks for posting!
Arjun Kapadiya says
The funny thing is me and my brother were just talking about this a couple days ago and how there is a lot of marketing involved. Great read!
I’m so not a Gaga fan – but this was a great post!
Toronto Squirrel Removal says
Lady Gaga is so cool. I can not do the same thing.
Or, you can find better role models to learn innovation from than amoralists such as Stefani Germanotta.
Well written! Congrats on being freshly pressed too.
Lady Gaga got my attention because of her crazy image but the first video I actually ever watched of hers was in some NY bar before the image had emerged and what really caught me was how incredibly talented she is as a composer and performer. In some ways I think it’s a shame that she had to go to such extremes to be heard…
Mikalee Byerman says
Number 6 is “6”??? I’m totally curious about that one…
Great tips. She’s a brilliant businessperson to be sure, and we can all learn from her clear sense of savvy.
Thanks for the HTML artifact catch. Transferred this from Word and it doesn’t always come across with perfection. Edited now. Hope I don’t disappoint that 6 isn’t 6 anymore!
I’m not really a Lady Gaga fan but I admire her a lot for her courage to show the world who she really is in this world full of criticism.
Boris Lagutin says
Some people create an artificial figure from themselves and then think that the figure is themselves!
Then the question becomes: isn’t it now them? Are we not just what we believe we are? Perhaps part of innovation is to reinvent our personal self-perception so we can imagine something we couldn’t imagine in our previous incarnation.