American Idol Teaches a Lesson About Branding

As most of you who keep up with this blog know I am a sucker, an avid fan of American Idol. I’m dying for the producers to read some of my posts & invite me out there to blog about the show (Are you reading now? 🙂 ).

Anyway, this past week saw the elimination of my favorite from this season’s contestants – Colton Dixon. In all actuality, the Top 10 are REALLY good. All of them. But, Colton won my heart for a couple of reasons with one of them being his steadfast faith and not being afraid to show it. His performance of “Everything” by one of my favorite bands, Lifehouse pulled me right in (On an aside, I met Lifehouse while working for my local NBC affiliate a couple of years ago. They’re top notch!). It was as if Colton had been singing that song forever (and by all accounts he had. He says it’s his favorite worship song.).

Colton had my vote from day one because as a Christian, you can tell when another who has been given a gift is meant to share it with the world. For me, Colton’s place as a contestant mirrored my support of Scotty McCreery last year, though Scotty was different in that we live in the same town and I was consumed by my support then.

So, how does this all fit into the title of this blog?

After Colton was eliminated from competition, he then had to partake in a myriad of media interviews with one of the first one’s being an appearance on Good Day LA. During that interview he responded to the question of rumors circulating that the AI producers had asked him to “tone down his religious Tweeting”. Colton simply explained that the producers instructed every contestant to steer clear from religious and political online support simply because it may cost them votes if they engage too much in them. I couldn’t agree more.

As marketers we’re not saying don’t talk about them. We’re just saying be smart about it and if you can’t be, then stay away from the subject.

And that’s the lesson. As a social media marketer and as one who instructs others on how to use the medium successfully for whatever marketing goals they may have, I am consistently saying the same thing – stay away from engaging in discussion about controversial topics (religion, politics, gay and lesbian rights, etc.). As marketers we’re not saying don’t talk about them. We’re just saying be smart about it and if you can’t be, then stay away from the subject.

Colton Dixon

The producers of American Idol had the right idea and I applaud them for that. It’s all about branding. If you can’t be objective, if you can’t stop yourself from constantly wanting to persuade people to see your POV online about such subjects, then don’t talk about them online. Save those discussions for offline settings.

Remember, the old adage, “You only have one chance to make a first impression.”? Think about it like that. If someone’s first impression of you online is your consistent opinionated Tweets, posts, etc. about your religious beliefs or your thoughts on this year’s political race or what have you and they are not in line with that individual’s beliefs as well, it’s not only a turn off, but you might lose their business or in Idol’s case, their vote.  I totally get that and like I said, I applaud Idol’s guidance in that respect.

Know who you are online and off. Also know that online, the impression people perceive of you is greater than that offline simply because it’s the quickest way to “get to know someone” by being a friend, follower, connection, or fan. Did you see my post on this Monday? I dive further into this subject there.

I have great hopes for Colton Dixon. I do believe he will go far. He has received a gift from God after all and as far as I’m concerned, that’s pretty stellar in my mind.

Kudos to American Idol for teaching all these newbies about branding. I hope they all listen to you as they go forward in their careers.

Images of Colton Dixon courtesy of American Idol downloads.


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