The power of a label, and even a campaign title, really can make or break a brand.

Unfortunately, global popstar Taylor Swift found herself faced with the latter this week when she announced her new fashion brand, TS 1989.

Despite good intentions to closely link her personal brand – using her initials and date of birth – to the new label, it seems the clothing line is going ‘out of style’ in China before it’s even released.

The label, TS 1989, is an unpleasant reminder of the horrific massacre in Tiananmen Square in 1989 – an incident so sensitive to the Chinese that the communist government suppressed people from talking about it, and blacklisted searches of the date online.

So the question is, why didn’t Swift’s people know this was trouble before she walked in? Well, the answer is most likely a lack of research and consideration to how this would be received by her Chinese market.

It’s imperative not to underestimate the importance of research! Before locking in the name of your next campaign, initiative, program, or even clothing line, just take the time to research it first. Google it, search social media commentary and hashtags, brainstorm possible ways it could be misinterpreted by all of your stakeholders and run the idea past other people, in case there’s something obvious that you’ve missed.

Another important consideration, if you don’t want people to draw a ‘Blank Space’, is to make sure the name quickly translates with powerful and creative flair, because honestly, the broader community isn’t going to understand industry jargon or a few random words and numbers unless they make sense.

For the success of your next campaign, don’t ‘Shake Off’ these two important factors!

Only time will tell how this ‘Love Story’ between Taylor and China will pan out – my guess, they’ll get back together. Whether TS 1989 clothing makes it to the Chinese market, I’m not so sure.


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