Few others, if any, have as much influence on the current zeitgeist as Taylor Swift. The inimitable musician regularly dominates the American cultural consciousness (an entire Wikipedia page is dedicated to this topic), maintains a fiercely loyal fanbase (known as “Swifties”) and posts some of the highest numbers on both music charts and listening platforms (she is currently No. 2 in the world on Spotify in terms of monthly listeners).
How Taylor Swift is everything a traditional brand wishes it was
Of course, Swift has been popular in some form since 2006, but her streak of super-popularity can be traced to the second half of 2020, when she began re-recording her entire catalog of music. Not only have these re-releases allowed her to regain control of her IP, but they have also afforded her fans the opportunity to re-experience the songs to which they grew up listening (this month’s “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)” remakes an album from 2010). Nostalgia, as we all know, is one of the most effective elements in marketing, and Swift is a case study of both how it works and the potential size of its impact.
During this re-recording process, Swift has also released three albums of fresh material—“Folklore,” “Evermore” and “Midnights”—which have hooked old fans while courting new ones. The sheer density and passion of her following can be seen at any stop along the Eras Tour—an ongoing series of concerts the experience of which can only be described with the Gen Z phrase: “screaming, crying, throwing up.”
But the music itself only partly explains the power of Swift’s brand. The way in which she uses mystery to communicate with fans; her unique mythology, fueled by a vulnerability that invites others to experience it from within; her constant blending of the old and new into something completely timeless—these factors, among numerous others, gesture to the depth underpinning Swift’s allure. Even if the train stopped tomorrow, our understanding of cultural phenomena will have been forever changed.