It is a bit unorthodox to start our Brands We Love series with a look at singer/songwriter/musician Taylor Swift, but knowing what this great woman has achieved, and how her thinking about breaking rules and hard work matches with our values, I couldn’t resist.

I am only a recent (i.e., the past couple of years) fan of Taylor Swift, but what I’ve observed about her in that short amount of time is quite inspiring (Taylor, if you’re reading this call me, let’s do a video interview). Let’s start with a look at a video interview that she did back in 2007:

I think this video is beneficial because it gives us a snapshot in time of how Taylor Swift approached building her personal brand. Some useful takeaways that we admire and teach are:

1) Taylor Swift caught wind of the competition in Nashville, took a step back and discovered “I had to figure out a way to stand out!” and then worked very hard to develop the skill set to do it.

2) Taylor went above and beyond to promote herself instead of hoping on a wing and a prayer that minimal efforts would get her maximum results. Where most artists do a 6-week radio tour she devoted 6-months to a radio tour. She wanted to meet as many people as possible and look at where those personal connections and relationships got her!

3) She didn’t let someone else’s opinion of her talents limit her. When her music teacher dismissed her inquiry about playing a 12-string guitar, she used it as motivation and worked hard to master it, small fingers and all. Where is he now? HA!

4) Taylor Swift stays involved in every part of the production process. There wasn’t a session where tracks were being laid and she wasn’t there. Delegation is important but never release the vision that you have for a project

5) Taylor Swift wrote her own biography and made sure to let people into her heart, mind and soul. Often when we want to appear credible we default to having others write the story of our lives but Taylor Swift is proof that being the author of our own story endears others and invites others into the unfolding story more than impressive words and achievements ever could.

Taylor Swift is a good example of personal branding done right. At the level of success that she has now I have no doubt she has an entire team managing her brand, but it’s the initial vision and hard work that she set out with, and continues to master, that have brought her success. To Taylor Swift we say Congratulations on a brand well done.

Now it’s your turn. What insights have you gleaned from Taylor Swift’s personal branding that you can share?