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Articles from DIAMOND JEWELLERY (983 Articles), DIAMONDS BY CUT - BRILLIANT (ROUND) (286 Articles)










A modern-day De Beers advertisement
A modern-day De Beers advertisement

Would you consider ‘diamond’ a brand?

All too often the word ‘brand’ is confused with ‘label’. For example, a new product cannot be a brand because it has no heritage. However, COLEBY NICHOLSON found himself in an interesting debate about the legacy of ‘diamond’.

De Beers recently announced plans to “make a major investment in a holiday marketing campaign to generate increased consumer demand for diamond jewellery during the year-end holiday season”.

The campaign, described as a ‘call to action’ advertising campaign, will target men purchasing diamond jewellery for their partners leading up to Christmas.

Although the ad campaign will feature some De Beers branding, it’s essentially a generic marketing campaign designed to drive consumer diamond demand. This is interesting because De Beers ceased its generic diamond advertising and marketing in 2000 when it abandoned its (estimated) $200 million annual consumer-marketing spend and, at the time, was widely criticised by the trade for doing so.

The significance of De Beers’ decision to withdraw from consumer marketing can’t be understated. This is the company that effectively created the diamond market on the back of “A diamond is forever,” which first appeared in 1947 – it was so successful that it was judged by the US marketing publication Advertising Age as the most recognised slogan of the 20th century.

Back then it was hard to argue against De Beers’ decision to end its commitment to generic consumer marketing for the benefit of the entire industry, especially in a market it no longer dominated; however, it has since become clear that the industry is worse off now that De Beers no longer carries the load.

Interestingly, the De Beers’ announcement came right at the time I was debating with an industry colleague about the topic of my previous opinion piece: the next Pandora.

In that column I had proffered that Pandora had become the world’s largest jewellery brand by sales in just a little more than 10 years. My colleague said ‘the next big thing’ has been a topic of industry conversation for a long time. He wrote, “but let’s not forget the first big thing, the brand that made the industry what it is today: diamond”.

While I agreed with him that diamonds have made the industry what it is today I didn’t agree that ‘diamond’ is a brand.

What ensued was a wonderful debate about brand definitions. To me, ‘diamond’ is a product category and not a brand – and I argued that if we define diamond as a ‘brand’ then arguably cars, smartphones and chocolates, for example, are brands also, no?

I said that these are all product categories and that the label of ‘brand’ should mean individually identifiable products rather than entire categories.

My friend suggested that I should think a little outside the box and I’d see that diamond is a brand (and a huge one) among gemstones the way Apple is a brand among smartphones.

He countered my view with a list of commonly-accepted definitions of a brand. For example, brands typically comprise various elements, such as name, graphics, logo tagline or catchphrase and he added, “Brands are about the emotional connection.”

For him, such things qualified ‘diamond’ to be a brand. He asserted that the ring is the product and the diamond is the brand, adding, “Before DeBeers built the brand, a relatively small percentage of brides-to-be got diamonds.”

I agreed with that point except said I would exchange the word ‘brand’ for ‘category’. In other words, the product category is ‘diamond’ and the brands within that include De Beers, Forevermark, Argyle, Tiffany & Co, Hearts on Fire and more.

The debate continued on email over many days, given the time difference between our respective locations, and I suggested that a specific person or entity could own a brand, whereas product categories could not be owned. Car or chocolate, as brands, cannot be owned.

Brands involve intellectual property and there is no IP behind chocolate as a category.

In addition, brands are more easily managed and controlled by people but product categories operate as anarchy; however, and this is where De Beers’ latest announcement kicks in, my colleague pointed out that De Beers once ‘owned diamond’ when it operated as a cartel so it’s possible to argue that diamond was (once) a brand.

To support his belief he added, “Before De Beers starting driving the diamond brand in Japan in 1966 fewer than 5 per cent of Japanese women were given diamond engagement rings. By 1990 it was up to 77 per cent and I believe it’s over 90 per cent now.”

The stats surrounding diamonds have always been impressive and these were at a time that De Beers ‘owned’ the market – 50 years is a long time in marketing.

I agreed but added that times had changed and the fact that De Beers no longer invests in generic marketing on behalf of the entire industry shows that it no longer ‘owns’ or controls the diamond industry, therefore diamond is not a brand so it’s now a product category.

Our friendly debate continued for a few more days until our respective deadlines approached and we had to move on to less subjective matters, publishing magazines. 

De Beers’ new ad campaign will only target consumers in the US and China, and regardless of whether you agree with my views or my colleague’s, let’s be sure of one thing: it’s a step in the right direction.

 

De Beers print ads through the ages

1950s
1950s
1957
1957
1973
1973

1978
1978

1993
1993

1981
1981

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Famous De Beers commercials