We all like to think our favorite celebrities are these relatable (but totally gorgeous) people with whom we’d definitely be BFF with given the chance, but unfortunately, that is not true. Celebrities are really brands, specifically designed to sell products to you, be it books, movies or albums. In every interview or photoshoot they do, they are cultivating their brand so you buy their product.
Each celebrity brand is a small business that is valued at a certain amount. We all know what Leonardo DiCaprio is about and what you will be getting when you buy a ticket for one of his movies. He’s been in the game for years. He’s a charming guy who is talented and serves up high-end entertainment. He also has a knack for choosing films that dudes tend to like. Because of his brand, he can command $25 million just to do one film.
Jennifer Lawrence is another very different brand. She is younger and tends to have no filter. This no-filter may not be an act per se, but it has certainly become a key part of the Jennifer Lawrence brand. Who would have thought that falling down while walking onto a stage to claim your Oscar could help advance your brand? Because of her candid interviews that quite frequently go viral and provide even more exposure for the film, J-Law can command $15 million for a film. You get it, your brand equals your paycheck.
Brands don’t always stay the same. Celebrities can change their brands from time to time for many different reasons. If a celebrity has hit rock bottom or feels that they have been pigeonholed in their career, it may be time to rebrand. If a celebrity’s audience is outgrowing their product, they may rebrand. Whatever reasoning these stars had, these 10 celebs successfully rebranded their image.
10. Matthew McConaughey – From Romantic Comedy Lead to Oscar Winning Actor
For a time, Matthew McConaughey’s name was synonymous with romantic comedies, but today, he’s one of Hollywood’s most sought after and celebrated actors. How’d he do it? Well, after popping on the screen in Dazed and Confused, McConaughey bounced around roles for nearly a decade. While it seemed directionless, he was a young actor taking any role he could get.
Finally, he found his calling in life: the male lead in romantic comedies. He starred in The Wedding Planner, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Failure to Launch, and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. Some of them were delightful but some of them were very, very bad. It was a good ten years of McConaughey’s acting abilities being underused in his roles of the charming love interest.
At this point, McConaughey went indie and starred in some low budget films like Killer Joe, The Paperboy and Mud. These films were much darker than the light romantic comedies audiences were used to seeing him in. After reminding people that he can really freaking act, McConaughey starred in Dallas Buyers Club and True Detective, both receiving praise and earning him awards for his performances, including an Oscar.
Now, he can call the shots of his career and has his pick of films. Let’s all just hope that he doesn’t choose to do another romantic comedy with Kate Hudson. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days was fun and all, but Fool’s Gold was just painful.
9. Lana Del Rey – From No Body Lizzie Grant to Superstar Lana Del Rey
Do you know who Lizzie Grant is? She’s Lana Del Rey, or Lana Del Rey is Lizzie Grant. Well, who really knows? She’s all one person. Lana Del Rey was born Elizabeth Woolridge Grant. As Lizzie Grant, she didn’t have much success and was, in fact, singing much of the same music she does now. She didn’t change the product that she was putting out there, but rather repackaged it. She went underground and changed her name, her hair, her clothes. Now, her image matches the breathy, nostalgic sound of her songs and the package as a whole is being consumed by millions.
8. Christina Aguilera – From Bubblegum Pop to Dirrty to The Voice
Christina Aguilera is a chameleon in many ways. She has rebranded her image several times since she found stardom with her single “Genie in a Bottle.” At that point, she was a run of the mill pop star like Britney Spears, Mandy Moore and Jessica Simpson. They were all releasing bubblegum pop songs and portraying this image of sweet innocence but a teeny bit naughty.
With Aguilera’s album Stripped, it was a whole new her. She was once the girl lounging in sand, singing about what a girl wants but now she was the girl in the “Dirrty” music video, who, if you need reminding, wore leather chaps, a bikini top and looked, well, dirty. She even adopted the name “Xtina” and kept up her dirty look for red carpet events.
While Stripped definitely came with more meat than her previous pop albums and was coupled with her singing abilities, many people couldn’t fully get down with Xtina. After a marriage and having children, she has rebranded herself again. Now, Aguilera tends to embrace a bombshell image of curls, red lips and her curvaceous body. She’s become a staple on television due to her stint on The Voice. She is now branching out into an acting role on Nashville. While no one can say if this will be the last persona Aguilera will take on, one thing is for sure, she’s really good at rebranding herself.
7. Britney Spears – From Downfall to Reboot
Britney Spears didn’t rebrand herself for fun. It was out of sheer necessity. She emerged as the queen of bubblegum pop. Whether she was kissing Madonna or dancing with a snake draped on her shoulders, there was nothing Britney could do wrong in the opinion of her fans. Her songs rose to the top of the charts and the music videos for them became iconic. Honestly, can you even talk about TRL without reminiscing about her red latex jumpsuit or her catholic schoolgirl uniform?
Well, unfortunately being queen of the world as a teenager can lead to, well, a mental breakdown. A few dark years of Britney’s life were plagued with marriages, domestic disputes, shaving her head and attacking paparazzi with umbrella. After time out of the spotlight, Britney was ready to make a comeback but the question was if he fans would ever be able to get the image of a bald Britney attacking someone with an umbrella out of their heads.
She didn’t necessarily have the rebrand but rather reminded everyone what exactly her brand was. Taking a note from Aguilera’s playbook, Britney served as a judge on The X Factor, bringing herself into people’s home via their television sets, ensuring them that she was of stable mind and body. She’s currently sitting pretty in Las Vegas, making $300,000 a night for her Britney: Piece of Me show, where fans flock to see her perform her greatest hits. Sometimes, you just need to remind people what your brand is and that you’re not crazy.
6. Victoria Beckham – From Posh Spice to Fashion Entrepreneur
Going from pop star royalty to hanging out with actual royalty isn’t easy, but Victoria Beckham did it. Victoria came to fame during the 90s as Posh Spice, a member of the Spice Girls. While still Posh Spice, she began dating David Beckham. The media ate their coupledom up, calling them “Posh and Becks.” Taking his name, shedding Posh Spice and reemerging as Victoria Beckham after the Spice Girls broke up helped to rebrand Victoria herself.
To become a fashion mogul, one must be fashionable, which Beckham was. Beckham was, above all, a trendsetter, as can be seen with her famous bob haircut that was then copied by women everywhere. Beckham was even given the honor of being the guest editor for the Christmas issue of Vogue Paris in 2013. She successfully transitioned from being just another celebrity face on a clothing line to being a respected fashion icon.
5. Kim Kardashian – From Fashion Don’t to The Cover of Vogue
While Kim Kardashian’s brand is and will always be selfies and self-indulgence, her brand got a tune up when Kanye West became part of it. Kim was one the girl who wore bandage dresses and smiled in photos, but this changed drastically when she started dating Kanye, who owns his own fashion line. He couldn’t be associated with someone who wasn’t making best-dressed lists and so, Kim’s wardrobe was renovated. Suddenly, Kim was arriving to red carpets in chic looks and no longer smiling at the camera but rather doing that smoldering look that all the chicest celebs do. Kanye’s overhaul of Kim’s style paid off as they landed a cover of Vogue and fans have long forgotten (or tried to forget) Kim’s looks pre-Kanye. She’s still a selfie queen but just a better-dressed selfie queen.
4. Bradley Cooper – From Playing A Douchebag to Oscar Nominations
Remember when Bradley Cooper played a douchebag? You may be asking which time because Bradley Cooper was cast as a douchebag many, many times. It all started with Sex and the City, when he played a love interest of Carrie, who was a douchebag. He hit it big when he scored a supporting role in Wedding Crashers as Sack Lodge. If the name of his character sounds like a douchebag, it’s because the character was a douchebag.
In 2009, Cooper starred in two commercial successes. The first was He’s Just Not That Into You, in which he played a married douchebag having an affair. The second was the film that would launch his career in super stardom The Hangover, in which he played, you guessed it, the douchebag of the friends. I think I hit may max allotted “douche bags” quota per article so I’ll refrain, but you get the point, Cooper was on his way to being America’s favorite ass****. He reprised his character in The Hangover Part II and The Hangover Part III.
After that a guy named David O. Russell saved Cooper’s career with Silver Linings Playbook. The dramatic romantic comedy in which Cooper played a guy suffering with bipolar disorder finally introduced the world to a different side of Cooper. His performance was even nominated for an Oscar, mostly because everyone was surprised that he wasn’t playing a douchebag. Since then he’s become an awards season regular, nailing down Oscar nominations in 2013 for American Hustle and 2014 for American Sniper. No longer is Cooper known for playing the a-hole.
3. Taylor Swift – From Country Singer to Powerhouse Singer Promoting Girl Power
Taylor Swift picked a perfect time to rebrand herself, which was when her fan base was dangerously close to growing up and over her music. Taylor came to prominence as a country singer. With her curly blonde hair and cowboy boots on, she would strum her guitar and sing tunes about all the boys who broke her heart. The songs were catchy versions of diary entries and they worked.
Sure, she still sings about her ex-boyfriends but her tunes are noticeably more pop. Her image has also changed as she swapped eyeliner for red lipstick and her long curls for a sleek lob haircut. She’s also accomplished in the changed the conversation about herself. For a while, the chat about Taylor would be related to who she was or wasn’t dating and therefore, was or wasn’t singing about.
Taylor has since recruited a squad of friends included Selena Gomez, Lena Dunham, Gigi Hadid, Lorde and practically every single Victoria’s Secret Angel. The conversation is now more geared towards her group of friends and their accomplishments as opposed to who she is dating. Taylor took herself from heartbroken country star to the powerhouse promoting girl power.
2. Miley Cyrus – From Disney Star to Twerking Star
Like Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus realized that her innocent Disney image would not be marketable to her aging fanbase. Unlike Swift who has maintained her good girl image through her rebrand, Miley destroyed her good girl image. Also unlike Taylor, Miley seemingly changed overnight, debuting the new her during the infamous MTV Video Music Awards performance. You know, the one with all the twerking.
After that performance, she completely rid the world of Hannah Montana forever. She changed her brand into sensationalized brand, thriving off a ‘what will she do next’ feeling. Her rebrand worked perfectly and landed her a gig hosting the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards, MTV using her new brand to get viewers to tune in. See ya never, Hannah Montana.
1. Jessica Alba – From Hot Girl Character to CEO
Jessica Alba was once known for her looks above all else. The actress enjoyed success in Hollywood while bouncing between roles that didn’t challenge her acting abilities much. The roles more or less just required very little clothing in films such as Honey, Sin City, and Into the Blue. Most roles with more meat that Jessica Alba took ended up being in movies that were panned by critics.
Instead of giving into a life of being typecast as the hot girl (which really isn’t a bad life), Jessica Alba founded Honest, a company that started as baby products but has expanded into beauty products as well. Alba is now the owner of a company valued at $1.7 billion, transforming her image from ditzy actress to a powerful CEO. Her image is now predominately about her business and less about the roles in which she has taken, though I’m sure some guys will forever think of her as Nancy Callahan.