Hennessy Honoree: 3 Savvy Branding Tips from Daymond John

Daymond John is a pioneer in street wear as the CEO/Founder of fashion brand FUBU, with over $6 billion in product sales. He also is best known these days as one of the investors on the ABC’s entrepreneurial hit series Shark Tank. John recently was honored with the 11th Annual Hennessy Privilège Award for his commitment to his community, which is unparalleled with his various ongoing initiatives to mentor and help others succeed.

The night kicked off with a live one-on-one conversation between John and MTV News’ Sway Calloway, as they discussed John’s entrepreneurial successes. The two chatted about everything from what motivates him as a businessman, to what it’s like being a Shark. John’s on-air foe and off-air friend, Barbara Corcoran closed the festivities with a rousing closing toast in celebration of the honoree. John also shared an inside glimpse of his latest book, “The Power of Broke,” which hits shelves soon.

Every year, the Hennessy Privilege Award goes out to someone who has made a contribution to the community through their leadership and service. This prestigious award is presented to those who embody strength and sophistication; ideals held close in the House of Hennessy Cognac for almost 250 years. Past Hennessy Privilège Award recipients include Spike Lee, Carmelo Anthony, Magic Johnson, Patti La Belle and George Lopez.

On behalf of John, Hennessy will contribute to two worthy foundations he is most passionate about, including the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurism (NFTE), whose mission is to provide programs that inspire young people from low-income communities to stay in school, recognize business opportunities and plan for successful futures; and the Hip-Hop Summit Youth Council, which seeks to improve the image and unity within the hip-hop community, as well as the grades, character and leadership skills of members.

John’s marketing strategies and ability to build successful brands has made him a highly sought after consultant. His marketing firm Shark Branding offers advice on how to effectively communicate to consumers through innovative means and connects brands with the top celebrities for everything from endorsements to product extensions.

BlackEnterprise.com sat down with John during the event to talk branding strategies for small business owners where he offered the following tips:

1. Partner with other businesses. “There are a couple of ways that small business owners can leverage and grow their brand. First, you need to find other like minded business owners who are not competitive to you but you are somewhat of an asset to them and you share your customer base,” says John. For example, you may offer each other’s customer base a discount for using your service or buying your product.

2. Find and hire digital natives. “Go into the schools and employ a good workforce where you are not only teaching them but that they are teaching you about a new way that business is being done and a new way that young people are communicating. Social media is where you are competing now,” he advises. “Before someone even walks through your door they are Googling you and your business.”

3. Give back. “There is always a charitable way to brand your company. Find a social cause that you truly believe in,” Johns says. Show your customers how you help their communities via sponsorship, fundraising, and holding local events.

John also shared how small business owners can leverage their brand with major corporations. “Ask yourself: How can you shop your customer base to a corporation? How can a corporation feel that you are essential to them; you are giving them their analytics and proof of concept; what are the values of the corporation? ”

Entrepreneurs are like family, adds Johns. “The most effective places we (FUBU) sold at was specialty stores. Specialty store owners were small business owners. Those small business owners were buying shirts from us and they were talking to the kids saying this is the new thing,” he explained. “When we were dealing with the department stores, the salespeople were many steps removed from what customers wants. So, as an (entrepreneur) you can be a real asset to a corporation.”