What do cognac, baseball, night clubs, and music streaming have in common? About as much as menswear, cologne, and vodka has in common with cosmetics, apps and apparently controversy. If you’re pretty savvy you’d know that these disparate ventures are a few of the business dealings of a Sean “Jay Z” Carter, Sean “Puffy” Combs and the youngest Kardashian sisters, Kendall and Kylie. This list of ventures in varying levels of success are a few noted examples of how a celebrity brand diversifies it’s primary offering in order to grow. As celebrities continue to position themselves more and more like brands many have decided to expand beyond just their primary point of fame into other ventures in an attempt to extend their influence but most importantly to fatten their bank accounts.
There are many examples of Moguls who’s ventures have surpassed their original fame. Did you know that Jessica Simpson was not always a shoe designer, or Jessica Alba was actually an actress rather than the co-founder of a friendlier household products company? Also, Kathy Ireland, was actually known for her body before she was known for her chests (like what I did there?) and George Foreman wasn’t always the king of grills. Most notoriously a certain reality star who lends his name to golf courses, steaks, pageants, vodka and neck ties made in China would eventually become #45 (sigh). You may have known many of these these but more and more the mark of celebrity is not just what you do on the stage, or in front of the camera but what side hustles bare your name.
There are a couple key principals that one should follow when looking to achieve Mogul status that mirrors the decision set that most corporate brands consider if and when they decide to expand to new territories.
Depth vs Reach – Have you exhausted all of the white space opportunities within your primary venture? Rather than expanding it may make more sense to conquer the industry that you are already in. Jay Z and Diddy did not expand right away into fashion until they had had successful music careers, had taken leadership roles within Bad Boy and Roc-A-Fella Records and launched the careers of Rihanna, Ne-Yo, Faith Evans, 112, and Total respectively. So if you are just getting your name out in the rap or singing game or just landed your 3rd national commercial maybe it’s not exactly the right time to start a new t-shirt line.
Expertise – Is this new venture within your current level of understanding? Opening a restaurant is difficult since more restaurants fail than succeed and just because you have a big name that can pack out a club on the weekends does not mean you can be Kandi Burruss and open the Old Lady Gang. Restaurants are hard work, most chef owners spend the majority of their day at a restaurant, from food delivery and inspections in the morning to food prep, lunch, dinner service, inventory management and clean up at night. And we all know that one negative experience in a restaurant can result in negative reviews which these days have turned into the death nail. So countless hours are spent refining the consumer experience in order to to achieve a workable concept. So maybe stick to being a home chef before and entertaining your friends with your flair bartending.
Consumer – Always remember who your consumer is. Chances are the people who support you now are the people who will support you in the future. It is a lot easier for a brand to extend to a new venture if they stick with the same consumer target. A food brand can go into deserts because they are speaking to the same consumer. If your consumer base is younger millennials focused on trap music then it is difficult to target buyers from Bergdorfs and Neiman Marcus and the high end clothing market by showcasing your designs in New York Fashion Week. If you aim for Macys, H&M or Foot Locker and then price at the higher end of the scale your celebrity clout should cause you to do very well. Ivy Park at Top Shop, Beyonce wins again.
Authenticity – To thy own self be true. If you are not a consumer of the product then you should not be an endorser of it. You can do a lot of harm to your brand by connecting to products that are far removed from your identity. I subscribe to the Warren Buffet investment model. If I don’t understand the business model or am not a consumer of the product then I do not endorse it. If you are a person who has never lifted a weight then it may behoove you to not be the face of a new diet plan or new fitness fad no matter how much money they throw your way. It is sort of like if Red Lobster started selling jewelry. It would make more sense for Red Lobster to create a 1 step solution to make cheddar biscuits at home rather than thinking it was the next Harry Winston. Stay in your lane.
Resource Overlap – In order to diversify remember that you are now stretching your existing resources to cover an area that you most likely need to devote a lot of attention and ground up work. So your current focus will suffer. It is difficult to operate at 100% in your original area when you have extended yourself to other areas. The amount of time and attention it takes to record a new album, to go on tour and to do the press and radio junket will get eaten up if you are also trying to start a new acting career. Somethings got to give.
This article was written by Gilbertson Cuffy for Bleu Magazine