by Masingita Mazibuko. Andre Romelle Young is a Black American Success Story. You’ll know him better as record producer, rapper and entrepreneur, Dr Dre. However, Young has most recently made headlines thanks to his skill as an entrepreneur, and not as a musician.

Opinion is divided as to whether this is a triumph or a sell-out.

Beats by Dr Dre (image source: Facebook)In July 2008, Dr Dre released a line of headphones, Beats by Dr Dre.

In 2009, he teamed up with HP to bundle the headphones with a limited-edition laptop.

And, in May this year, Apple announced it would buy Beats Electronics for R25.6 billion (US$3.2 billion), which would be Apple’s biggest acquisition ever.

Exchanging high fives

The rationale behind the deal is flummoxing many and audio geeks are shaking their heads because they perceive the headphones to be of poor quality. Marketers, however, are exchanging high fives at how successfully Dr Dre has tapped into the popularity of hip street culture.

Say what you like about the earphones but don’t negate all that Dr Dre has learnt about being consistent and using all the weapons at his disposal to take his brand to the next level. The man certainly has remained true to trade.

So what may we learn from him?

• Clear foundation/predefined parameters:

Establishing the brand is always the most difficult of tasks but, once the journey has begun, it must remain true to the predefined parameters to ensure its foundation remains solid, and the brand can be built year after year.

• Realise mistakes will happen:

We marketers will make mistakes but, when we do, it is critical to remember the foundation stones and return to them.

These will provide insights as to how we can restructure the brand and our marketing initiatives to build straight and true once more.

• Acknowledge it takes time to realise benefits:

Dr Dre, indeed many of the brands we hold in high esteem, has ‘served his time’. A consistent message repeated time and time again, albeit in different ways, enables people to form a solid opinion about the brand and its character.

Do not get caught in the game of immediate results, even though this mean putting in more than you get out at times.

• Stay true:

Dr Dre remains a hip-hop artist and entertainer at his core. Yes, he’s a record producer; yes, he’s an entrepreneur; but through it all he has remained true to the culture of hip hop.

This has ensured his authenticity and lent him credibility as he has stretched into other areas.

The start is a crucial stage of the brand’s journey. Once the pace begins to quicken, don’t forget to pull off the road sometimes and look at where you’ve come from — as Dr Dre shows, beginnings are a source of durability and intrinsic identity.

Masingita Mazibuko


Masingita Mazibuko is a marketing director at Unilever. The views expressed within this monthly “Africa Style” column are, however, entirely her own.



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