Like her or hate her, Lady GaGa boasts a very strong, distinct personal brand. So last October, the artist's management moved to protect her brand by trade marking everything GaGa. However, a look at recent updates to the trademark show that GaGa, or her management, may be on the verge of ruining everything.
The documents show that the Lady GaGa trademark covers, among other things, "caps, visors, boxer shorts, headbands, sneakers, swim wear, bras, scarves, hosiery, pajamas, and robes." Oh, and Lady GaGa sweatpants. The update is more worrisome, however, as it includes vinyl covers for cell phones, MP3 players, laptops. It also claims rights to Lady GaGa "gift certificates which may then be redeemed for goods and services."
No one should be surprised that the talented singer/songwriter is lending her image to an imaginative array of endorsements, but even the most ardent fan has limitations, and saturating the market with one's personal brand brings with it the risk of backlash. After all, part of what makes Lady Gaga so appealing is her ability to be different -- fans naturally want a piece of that, a piece of her brand.
The branding industry is fraught with brand expansion cautionary tales (Harley-Davidson-branded cake decorating kit anyone?). The lure of profits is powerful, but it can be destructive if the brand becomes too diluted. So the GaGa brand, which communicates severe individuality and near-absolute uniqueness, is particularly at risk. Her name is already stretching thin as she lends it to brands like Polaroid and Little Monster condoms.
GaGa would be wise to look before leaping as she contemplates a "Lady GaGa GooGoo Sippy Cup."