A business, man: 3 tips JayZ used to build his brand

In a moment of lyrical genius, JayZ proclaims he’s “not a businessman, but a business, man” in his guest verse on Kanye West’s 2005 hit Diamonds From Sierra Leona (the remix). Since his first album dropped in 1996, JayZ has fostered his personal brand and built a business that has attracted a loyal fan base as well as taken him to the top of the charts year after year.


The JayZ Brand

The music industry and hip-hop culture existed before JayZ. By creating a unique, recognizable, reputable, and marketable image, he was able to take advantage of an already thriving business by branding himself as a powerful artist that everyone should look out for.

What exactly is the brand JayZ? Referred to as the physical embodiment of New York City, JayZ has virtually remained the same over time like a fine Cadillac. He has stayed committed to his core values and constantly gives his audience exactly what they expect, want, love, and need. There has been no Miley Cyrus-esque rebranding. No surprises. His brand is so strong and perfectly tuned that it has been able to endure nearly 20 years in a cut-throat industry. An industry  where you are in one day and out the next.

Three Steps to Building a Strong Personal Brand

As a business owner, your ability to sell yourself determines your future. Building a personal brand that your audience can connect with and want to interact with is key. The blog post Branding Made Personal: 3 Steps to Building a Stellar Personal Brand outlines three steps every business owner should take to turn themselves into a marketable product. Now, let’s look at how JayZ used these tactics to create his brand.

1) Have a powerful physical presence:  Making sure everything the customer lays eyes on fits well with your brand’s message is crucial to success. Sending mixed messages through visuals is disorienting and off-putting for the consumer. They need to know who you are at first glance.

jay-z-carnegie-hall-00The consistency of the JayZ brand is what gives it power. From his Twitter to his website to his stage performances, the viewer is always getting the same message: JayZ is classic, powerful, genuine, creative, and timeless. Simplicity is his thing. This is exemplified by his Twitter handle @S_C_,which stands for his initials, as well as through his heavy use of black and white imagery and minimalist themes, which dominate his social media platforms. He doesn’t need flashing lights, bells or whistles to get his point across because his brand and reputation as a credible rapper speak for themselves.



2) Create a strong intellectual appeal: Looking good isn’t enough. A beautiful website may attract viewers, but it won’t necessarily encourage them to consume. Telling them what you have to offer over your competition and setting yourself apart is an important step in creating a successful brand message.


The self-proclaimed “greatest rapper alive” has produced quality products (albums, concerts, videos, etc.) time and time again, proving that he is a force to be reckoned with. His lyrics are his brand’s message. His unique selling proposition is not about overpowering people with flashy visuals and personal scandals, giving him intellectual appeal. A lot of his competitors rely on attention grabbing tactics (think Kanye’s infamous Taylor Swift interruption), but JayZ’s nearly unprecedented ability to keep his private life private sets him apart from the celebrity culture he operates in.



3) Have a lasting impact: Providing your customers with a product or service is only half the battle in creating brand loyalty. Giving your clients something to take away and having a lasting impact on their lives boosts your brand’s power.



A musician’s ability to connect with their audience is a huge contributing factor to their success. Named one of TIME’s most influential people in the world in 2013, there is no doubt that JayZ has an impact on people. JayZ is considered a visionary in his field and many, even those not particular well versed in hip-hop, idolize him on both a moral and professional level. His songs speak of life lessons and personal struggles, but are always fraught with positive, uplifting messages that keep his listeners dedicated to his brand.





Fan or not, JayZ’s career is admirable from a variety of different angles. He’s achieved tremendous success without sacrificing his personal identity and showed us all what creating a solid brand and sticking to it can lead to.

Like JayZ, any business owner can take advantage of these three steps to building a strong personal brand. Have anymore personal  branding tips? Share them in the comments below!