It all started with a haircut.
With the shearing of Miley Cyrus' perfectly coiffed long hair, so went her squeaky clean "Hannah Montana" image.
Since the chopping of her hair, Cyrus released racy music videos, hosted "SNL" with her tongue out, and smoked a joint while accepting an award on-stage. And who can forget when the nearly naked singer twerked alongside Robin Thicke during the most talked about MTV Video Music Awards performance of all time, inspiring the most popular Halloween costume of the year?
Needless to say, 2013 is the year Miley Cyrus effectively killed her "Hannah Montana" character.
But is it all part of a larger plan?
Ira Kalb of USC's Marshall School of Business wrote of Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber's marketing genius, despite any negative press:
"Their behavior, while criticized by more than a few, is part of a deliberate market plan to shatter their goody two shoes images and create new ones that fit the desires of their changing audiences. They need new keys for evolving locks, and that is what they are creating.
If you judge them by the numbers — followers on social media, brisk record sales, and sold out tours, their rebranding plans are working really well.
Howard Bragman, vice chairman of Reputation.com, author of the book "Where’s My Fifteen Minutes?" a seasoned Hollywood publicist of 30 years, and good friend of Miley Cyrus' rock star dad, Billy Ray Cyrus, seems to think Cyrus is on the right path for a longstanding career.
Bragman, who has consulted on dozens of celebrity careers, says don't count Miley out despite the negative attention she received this year following her VMA performance.
"It's a rite of passage, particularly with these Disney girls. They seem to want to say 'hey, I'm not that little kid anymore, I'm a grown up lady,'" Bragman explained to Business Insider.
"Effectively she killed Hannah Montana [at the VMAS]," says Bragman. "Long live Miley Cyrus, I think that was the message."
The veteran Hollywood publicist further explains, "I understand it from a psychological point of view and a marketing point of view."
"From a psychological point of view, everyone tells Miley that they loved her as Hannah Montana and I'm sure she wants to throw up," he explains bluntly. "From a marketing point of view, these artists want to carry their audience with them — which is hard to do. It's easy to be hot for a while but in music in particular, it's hard to keep that going."
So how does Miley "keep that going" and where does she go from here?
"I think she has a different kind of path ahead of her, different kind of music," says Bragman. "Whether you liked it or not, she made her point. She had to be the caterpillar that shed her skin and now we're going to see what butterfly she's going to become."
As for how to do that, Bragman advises, "All it takes is a couple good songs and you're relevant and you're hot. It's less about branding and more about what resonates. I think this is part of her finding herself and finding her new brand."
While some reports said Miley's team was "freaking out" over her nearly naked twerk-tastic VMA performance, Bragman argues "I think they're thrilled."
"The VMAs were up 66% in viewers, she got over 300,000 tweets per minute, I do not think that any damage was done."
But Bragman also doesn't think that it's the people behind Miley who are pushing her new look and act.
"I think Miley's been in the business a very long time; I know her, she has opinions," adds Bragman. "She wouldn't do it if she didn't feel comfortable doing this."
Bragman adds, "You look at all the people who performed that night and we're all talking about Miley —who didn't win an award. But she won the night."
Not only that, she pretty much won the year:
Our Person of the Year shortlist includes @MileyCyrus, @pontifex, Bashar Assad and more http://t.co/WebcbPlQ9i #TIMEPOY— TIME.com (@TIME) December 9, 2013
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