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Joanna Dodd Massey, Ph.D., MBA is an experienced C-suite communications executive and Board Director, who advises executive teams at Fortune 500 companies, startups and nonprofits. She has worked for over 25 years strategizing on global brand reputation management at companies, such as Condé Nast, Lionsgate, CBS, Viacom, Discovery and Hasbro. She is a corporate speaker and author of the upcoming book, Culture Shock: Surviving Five Generations in One Workplace.
In April 2019, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry launched a new Instagram account and gained thousands of followers instantly. This marked Meghan Markle’s return to Instagram after giving her old account the boot when she announced her engagement to Prince Harry.
After years of working for old media companies that are trying to reinvent themselves, I can tell you that the Royals are the perfect example of a storied and prestigious brand that is badly in need of a refresh.
Meghan Markle was a big social media influencer as an actress, so this new Instagram account is a signal that the younger Royals, and Meghan in particular, are taking control of their image and making sure to keep it fresh and vibrant with young adults, especially Millennials and Gen Z. But she has to battle old ways of doing things, so was it enough? The launch was subdued, but so is the Royal family.
In the United States, Millennials and Gen Z comprise 149 million people, which is 49% of the U.S. population. They have $1.6 trillion in spending power. Combined, these two generations are incredibly powerful and influential. Meghan Markle knows that. She is an excellent brand marketer. She has experience with it, and I see this new move on Instagram as her wielding her influence to ensure the vibrancy of her and Harry’s brand.
Instagram is the most popular social media platforms for Millennials and Gen Z, so this is a smart move. As the head of PR at several media companies, my job was brand reputation management. You have to be true to your brand while transforming it.
Take for example their birthday wish to Prince William in June, which was criticized for how formal it was. Emojis to the kids makes sense. No emojis to a 37-yr-old would be King is also appropriate.
What I talk about in my book "Culture Shock," which focuses on how much the younger generations are changing society and business, is that brand success with these younger generations depends on how the brand executes. The Royals are a brand.
I think that the Birthday wishes to Prince William are a good start. I expect we will see more as Meghan exerts more influence. The popularity of the Royals' brand actually depends on her.