Ed Sheeran became one of the biggest artists in the world by doing two things, and doing them well.
Throughout his career, Sheeran masterfully juxtaposed complex and skillful songwriting and performing with simple and genuine branding. Though many of his songs include either raps that go a hundred miles an hour or love song melodies so genius that he got the likes of Beyoncé and Andrea Bocceli to sing them with him, the man himself is a simple enough narrative for millions to follow.
Ed Sheeran has a rags-to-riches Cinderella story that he capitalized on with his branding. Just a little research on the British ginger will give you stories on his past homelessness, and how the likes of Jamie Foxx, Elton John and Taylor Swift took him under their wings. Many of Sheeran’s lyrics go with the theme of his rise from the bottom to the top.
Sheeran’s rather simplistic persona is shown through his clothes. Yes, he wears a fancy watch now and then, but all in all he still is “wearing the same old jeans,” as he says in the song “Eraser.” When he came to Dallas this past weekend to play AT&T Stadium, he wore a t-shirt, some dad sneakers, and jeans that didn’t seem to fit. He’s still seen mostly wearing t-shirts or hoodies, and his flaming red hair is just as scruffy-looking as ever.
Before writing his latest album, Sheeran made an announcement on social media that he was leaving it, and trekking across the globe phone-free. This emphasized Sheeran’s image of being the boy-next-door, chasing after a simple life even as a popstar millionaire.
At the center of Sheeran’s branding is a beautiful blend of the simple and complex, with an overarching focus on being genuine. The result is the world’s favorite ginger Cinderella story.