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Taylor Swift's personal brand proves its strength in the battle of brands

Taylor Swift Apple Music

Swift vs. Apple: The Post-Mortem

The Taylor Swift vs. Apple controversy highlights each brand's strengths

By Tim Calkins

There is nothing like a conflict to prove a brand’s strength. This week we saw two exceptionally strong brands battle it out: Taylor Swift and Apple.

On Sunday, Swift posted a letter to Apple attacking the tech giant’s plan to not pay artists royalties on its new music service, Apple Music, during its three-month trial period. Ten hours later, Apple responded and changed its policy.

This incident highlights the strength of Taylor Swift’s brand. When she takes a stand, other brands respond—even Apple, one of the strongest and wealthiest brands in the world.

Both Swift and Apple deserve credit. Taylor Swift embraced a cause that is important to all musicians, including the “underdog” independent artists. She asked Apple to respond with her voice; she didn’t issue a formal press release. She wrote a letter. It was an exceptionally nice letter. It was also very direct. This is all consistent with Taylor Swift’s brand.

Apple responded quickly and smartly. The company wasted no time taking action, posting its response—on a Sunday, no less, when hardly anyone is in the office.

In the end, both brands emerge stronger. Taylor Swift builds her brand; she demonstrates her considerable power and savvy, while preserving her tone and voice. Apple also emerges stronger. The company appears responsive to Taylor Swift. Apple also builds awareness of its new music streaming product.

Brands converse, just like people do. When great brands interact, both can benefit, even when they fight.