This week rapper Jay Z is dealing with some difficult branding challenges.
Later this month Barneys will start selling a new line of products designed by Jay Z. The collection includes a watch, raincoat, shirts and other expensive items.
Last week, however, two people accused Barneys of racial profiling. The stories hit the front page and received a lot of discussion in social media.
This created a big issue for Jay Z; fans accused him of supporting a store that discriminated against people.
The New York Daily News ran a front page story about Jay Z on Friday, saying he was under pressure to end his Barneys partnership.
Over the weekend, Jay Z issued a statement about the incident. It has done little to address the concerns. Read more about the statement here:
The issue is growing and Jay Z is clearly frustrated.
You can learn several important lessons about branding from this incident.
First, remember that every partnership impacts a brand. When you align your brand with another brand you get the positives and the negatives, the good and the bad. This means you must choose your partners carefully and limit the number.
Second, small incidents can have a huge impact on a brand. Two customers were upset with the treatment they received at Barneys. As a result, the Barneys brand has taken an enormous hit despite that fact that thousands of people happily visit Barneys every day.
Third, things move very quickly. Jay Z waited several days to respond to the Barneys accusations. As a result, many thought his comments were defensive and insufficient. Had he quickly put out a statement he could have addressed the issues quickly.
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On Monday I have my regular MBA class at Kellogg and then I head to India to speak at the 2013 Brand Conclave. I’ll be talking about defensive strategy. You can read more about the event here: http://www.brandconclave.com/