5 Lessons I’ve Learned from Working with Celebrity Brands

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Many brand consultants and strategists  dream of landing marquee clients – names known around the world. 

Whatever business you’re in, or trying to be in, few things signal the arrival of your business more clearly than catering to the rich and famous. And few things can do more to amplify your brand – or destroy it – than working with the world’s glitterati. 

Just one tweet, one photo, one mention from the right person can change your brand and business immediately.  (No this isn’t an urban legend, it’s true)

Finding celebrity clients is tricky, since most of the business they do is by referral or through their agents –one actress telling another or one athlete name-dropping in the locker room. But, once you land a star or two, being professional and delivering on the assignment is key for a successful relationship.

What I share here is from over 25 years of having been General Manager of Impala, Inc., parent company to IMAN Cosmetics and Jay Manuel Beauty brands, and General Manager of “Unforgiveable” by Sean John.

First and foremost, celebrities have a very strong connection with their audience. Therefore, a good grasp on their audiences’ wants and expectations. So, when working with a celebrity, your job is to bring their vision to life. Remember: they have to retain authenticity for their audiences, so it’s never a good idea to try and sway a celebrity’s vision. As an expert, it’s your job to come bring recommendations, facts, competitive landscapes, market research, and technological advancements to the table. This means modifications to their visions, products, etc.

Remember: it’s their brand reputation and they will be the first point of contact for the audience. so they have to believe in what they’re selling. (Keep the snake oil far, far away.) 

1.Be friendly, but always remember this is business.

Being with famous people is fun, sexy, and exciting. But, you have to learn to resist the urge to be their friend and tear up the party scene with them. You’re building a business and brand, not a tribe or posse, and it’s entirely possible to be friendly without being attached to their hips.

What you want as an entrepreneur is to have a roster of clients who value and rely on you – not one friend, even a really famous one.

2. Manage expectations with expertise. Celebrities have strong holds of their audiences.

Many celebrities and famous people grow accustomed to getting what they want and, in some cases, the best of everything. In a small business though, it’s better to be honest about what you can deliver than overpromising only to under-deliver. Yes, your competition may cause expectations to skyrocket, but those aren’t sustainable business models. Remember: a sustainable business is the goal.

Managing your clients’ expectations can be tough. It’s so easy to tell them what they want to hear... But, the good clients, the ones you want, will know when you’re telling them the truth. They’ll learn to value your honesty and reliability.

3. The spotlight isn’t for you.

It’s tempting to ask famous clients to promote you or your business, especially when they are happy with what you’re doing. But, don’t ask for that. Yes, it’s valuable to be in the spotlight, but that’s not nearly as valuable, business-wise, as doing good work and earning a client’s trust and referral. When the publicity comes, you’ll be glad you didn’t build your business around it, because it can disappear just as quickly as it appears.

4. Avoid gossip. 

Nothing will sour a business relationship with a well-known person more quickly than bragging about it. Remember: stay humble. It’s tempting to put their picture on your website, issue a press release, or brag at the bar about who the stars who know your name. But, don’t. Most celebrities, athletes, and world leaders value discretion as much as quality work. When you keep certain secrets to yourself, they won’t come back to bite you later.

5. Don’t cut your fees. Don’t overcharge either.

As much as you may want to wiggle your way into the celebrity client or customer market, don’t cut your prices to get their business. High-profile clients know the value of what they’re looking for. You don’t want to be in a position where you expect their cache to offset some of the lost revenue. Also, don’t overcharge, because it is a celebrity client; they work hard for the money, as well. Charge a fair price, the right price for whatever you’re selling – regardless of who’s buying. That’s true for any clientele.


In the business of stars, it’s easy to get a little starstruck.

but if you keep these lessons in mind, the only thing shining bright will be your career…

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