What You Can Learn from…Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs’ Branding Techniques

The Bad Boy took Ciroc to new heights. Our branding expert tells how you can do the same for your business

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Say what you will about Sean “Diddy” Combs, there is one fact that is undeniable: The man is the baron of brand building. Want proof? Witness the recently reported 552 % brand growth of Cîroc vodka.  (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.

Read more about the movers and shakers in the entertainment industry:

More on small business: Small Business Guide For Success

In the Atlanta area? See Marshawn Evans at  ME Universityâ„¢ – The Ultimate Business & Branding Bootcamp, which takes place November 20-21  in Atlanta, GA. The event is designed to help business owners monetize their brand through speaking, writing, working with the media, joint ventures and corporate sponsorships. For more information, visit marshawnevans.com.

  • Great article. In fact we were using Diddy as an example of great branding in a conversation we were having the other day. This article just hit the nail on the head!

  • I think that the insights you share from those moguls that are doing it and showing us how to follow in their footsteps is valuable. My company owns and distributes the Nature Perfect brand of Instant Hand Sanitizer. While building our brand we remain sociall concious as well in that we are comitted to supplying Medicated Mosquito Nets to needed families in Africa with other partners. But we are struggling in that sales are sluggish, and our advertizing bugget is minimal, but we are persevering to make our brand a National brand. Nature Perfect Instant Hand Sanitizer teh brand we trust. Remember : Cleans hands = Healthy Families
    If you have any guidance for our company, we would greatly appreciate it.
    Thanks and we remain greatful for timely information you share with us.

    • I admire p Diddy for his accomplishments and hard work and understanding without hard work and being smart he wouldn”t have accomplish those tasks. Its good to be around powerful people.

      Hand Sanitizer needs to be advertised national you get a small trucking company and label their trailers with your name and logo. Sims Intl. 773-459-2639

  • Quest Knowledge

    I’ve never heard of “brand growth”. What exactly are you talking about? Revenue growth? Profit growth? 

  • http://sharedaluv.com diddy is a smart man because he surrounds himself with smart people

  • Janel Martinez

    @ Tablazines: Thank you!

    @ Dalton and @Houston: Thanks for sharing

    @Quest Knowledge: Brand growth is a common term used to describe the development of key brand measurements. In this case, I’m talking about sales. Cîroc sales leapt to $6.8 million, a 41 percent spike, in the year ended Oct. 3, according to Symphony IRI. Hope that helps.

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  • Very Informative..needed this!

  • I admire p Diddy for his accomplishments and hard work and understanding without hard work and being smart he wouldn”t have accomplish those tasks. Its good to be around powerful people.

  • Blackscholar

    Regardless the amount of profits that Ciroc acquire with the assistance of Mr. Sean “I’ll Exploit My Own Black People” Combs for being the visual front person for this disasterous product along with other similar products. Mr. “I’ll Exploit My Own Black People” behavior is akin to that of a 21st century caboceer in which he’s implicitly and explicitly luring ill-informed Black people to purchase products that contributes to the denigration of our collective Black community. For those that dissent, I would like for you to answer the following: 1) Do Mr. “Caboceer” Combs have any of his clothing line manufactured in NYC where the unemplyment rate is hoovering near 50 percent?; and 2) Why does Mr. “Caboceer” Combs does not surround himself with college educated Black men as compared to majority of attractive women(most whom are not Black). That said, regardless of how much money Mr. “Caboceer” Combs makes for himself or these White owned MNCs, he’ll still be poor on several levels because what he’s not doing for Black people when he has the capacity to. By the way, he’s not the only guilty of this communal crime(i.e., Oprah, Congressional Black Caucus, NAACP, NUL the Boule, these so-called Black Greeks(read Stolen Legacy for further explanation) most Black entertainers and pro athletes, etc….)

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  • Creating partnerships is a good point. I own VIP Mobile Day Spa (www.vipmobiledayspa.com)and since it’s hard to give away spa services because it requires labor, I partnered up with a great, local bath & body company, Lovii Luscious Natural Beauty, to serve as my foot in the door in order to gain more clients.

  • This is a great article – 552% increase – wow! Diddy does do a good job at mentioning Ciroc in everything he does!

  • Great article. I have been following Diddy for a while and I got all of his posts just so I could learn his strategies. Some posts are interesting, but you know what they stick and that’s what is all about! He never stops tweeting; he always has something to say that ties back to his business/brand. Ever since I saw him on Donnie Deutsch The Big Idea, I knew that Diddy was someone that I needed to watch and learn more about! Thanks for the article.



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