Of course, you see Sean “Diddy” Comb promoting the Last Train to Paris but please note that he rode the bus before he could hop the pond to catch the train. Media portrays him as a party guru and not often is his branding techniques are highlighted. You do not have to go to college to learn branding, you have Mr. Combs to learn from. Black Enterprise decided to shed light on his great techniques.
The man is the baron of brand building. According to Black Enterprise, Ciroc vodka recently reported 552 % brand growth (Yes, you read correctly: 552%.) The brand’s exponential surge is attributed directly to Diddy’s involvement. After Diageo—the parent company for the liquor—partnered with him, featured him in several commercials and named him current brand manager and chief marketing officer in 2007, the company saw an extensive jump in sales. Now Ciroc is the second-ranked “ultra-premium” vodka, knocking Belvedere from its place, and was recently named one of America’s Hottest Brands by Advertising Age.
Blackenterprise.com talked with branding expert and reinvention strategist Marshawn Evans to see what small business owners may be able to learn from the hip-hop mogul’s promotional prowess and what techniques can be used to propel your company’s growth significantly. Here are Evans’s need-to-know tips:
Be the face of the brand: Diddy has been the spokesperson and sole face of Cîroc. Doing this, Evans assures, will grow one’s business. “If a small business owner can be the face of their brand, then it helps consumers connect with them and then they’re more apt to learn about their product and services,” says the entrepreneur. (Think Oprah and Martha Stewart. One small warning: when you’re the face of the brand, everything you do, good or bad, may affect the brand as well. Think Oprah and Martha Stewart.)
Cross-promote with lifestyle integration: Cîroc-everything is how Diddy plays the game. He inserts Cîroc messaging in his music and videos (does Chester French’s “Ciroc Star” video featuring Diddy, Jadakiss, and Clinton Sparks ring a bell?), television, commercials, nightlife promotions, live event appearances, and, of course, social media sites such as Twitter. It is not uncommon to see consecutive tweets from Diddy about the latest liquor flavor and retweets of drink concoctions made with his beverage of choice. Evans, an alumni of The Apprentice season 4, says if you know how to talk about your product or service, you don’t have to be at a networking event to spark a conversation about them. You could be anywhere.
Consistency and repetition is a must: “People don’t buy from you the first time,” says Evans. “They have to see the message over and over.” Hence, she advises, why shifting your messaging too quickly can hinder the spread of your brand. Brand-loyalty is your ultimate goal and that can only be achieved through direct, balanced communication. Diddy delivers that when promoting the liquor. The Bad Boy Entertainment Worldwide founder’s platform integration says”if you want to live a luxurious life like me, do what I’m doing,” and consumers internalize it.
Authenticity sells: It has to be believable. The Combs’s connection to the luxury brand seems nothing less than natural. In fact, many people assume he’s the liquor’s originator. “His advocacy of the product made us see the vodka as an extension of him,” adds Evans.
Provide a quality product: Without a doubt, when it comes to taste and quality, Cîroc is at the top of the list with its extensive distillation process and smooth consumption consistency. The sleek and sexy bottle goes hand-in-hand with the brand and its targeted audience. “If you don’t deliver, you’ve wasted your efforts.” It’s that simple.
Bonus tip: You must give, to receive: As a small business strategy, you should create partnerships; however, you’re going to have to give up some equity in the form of an ownership interest in your company or your product in order to get them to have buy in your company. Evaluate what the partnership could mean to your business and decide if joining forces and giving up some interest may be worth it in the long run.