“Check your ego at the door. The ego can be the great success inhibitor. It can kill opportunities, and it can kill success.” – Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has one of the most impressive and consistent cross-platform brand of any celebrity alive today. With a net worth of nearly $300 million and $90 million in earnings this year alone, there is obviously a lot to be learned from Johnson’s branding success.
After beginning his career as a wrestler, Johnson has leveraged his movie star status into an impressive Instagram following, branding collaborations with companies from Apple to VOSS water, and a personal brand so comprehensive that he needs his own marketing agency, Seven Bucks Creative, the strategic portion of Johnson’s Seven Bucks production company that helps promote all of his creative projects.
Here are five brilliant ways The Rock has built his brand online.
1) Leveraging his existing reach.
Johnson wisely uses his existing reach to amplify the new markets he’s seeking to break into. With three blockbuster films being released in 2019 (Jungle Cruise, the Jumanji sequel, and Hobbs and Shaw) on top of an already long and successful film career, he has amassed quite a following. Johnson leverages the stardom from multiple blockbuster films a year and his 153 million Instagram followers to build markets in other areas. But this strategy is not just for movie stars – brand builders everywhere have existing reach, even if it is only hyper local contacts, past career colleagues, or student networks.
2) Aligning his brand with his passions.
Johnson is the king of brand collaborations, but he makes the decisions about which branding expansions to pursue wisely. Shilling for brands that do not align with who he is would feel inauthentic, so he chooses products that he already uses and loves.
VOSS water is one of those product collaborations that feels natural, since Johnson has been drinking it for years, as he mentions on his Instagram announcement. That rings true, since it even comes up in this GQ feature from way back in 2017. Johnson shared on his Twitter, “Owning water always intrigued me – partly because I drink 4 gallons a day. But finding the right partner with shared values, ethics and a corporate culture I admire is what motivated me to make this deal.” He is starring in VOSS’ new brand campaign called “Live Every Drop,” that will feature behind-the-scenes peeks at his lifestyle and will be produced by his creative agency Seven Bucks.
He also recently helped launch the Project Rock Collection with Under Armour, another brand favorite of is that feels like a natural extension of the things he already loves to use and do. These thoughtful branding collaborations make his brand feel authentic and trustworthy.
3) Discipline, discipline, discipline.
Johnson’s worldwide success is impressive, and according to those who know him, not at all a surprise. He works hard, and is so consistent, that his discipline has manifested into dollars. His Seven Bucks Chief Marketing Officer had this to say about his discipline in a Fast Company feature, “It’s meant to speak to how training is a mentality, that the work you put in the gym extends to real life, and that mentality is consistent. That’s part of what makes Dwayne magical—is how he applies that same discipline from the gym into everything, and we wanted to express that in this campaign.”
It’s obvious even to the casual observer how consistently he churns out Instagram content and how hard he works promoting his films, and it seems that discipline is paying off.
4) Expanding to new markets.
While some may make light of the films Johnson puts out or the North American box office takes, his films are extremely popular in Asian market, which has helped expand his brand to new markets. His recent film Skyscraper had lackluster box office receipts in the United States, but took in over $48 million in its Chinese opening weekend and became the top grossing title worldwide that weekend as a result.
Like his predecessors Brad Pitt and Harrison Ford a decade or two ago, Johnson has been able to leverage his films’ popularity in the Asian market to do Chinese and Japanese branding collaborations, where some others might ignore the potential for success there. But Johnson works hard cultivating those markets – he recently visited Beijing and Hong Kong to promote Skyscraper, for example – and that foresight pays off in his brand’s success.
5) Integrating across mediums.
Because Johnson makes his branding collaboration decisions with such care towards keeping the products consistent with his lifestyle, it makes it easy for him to integrating products across mediums. He wears Under Armour in his films, for example, gaining free promotion for his products and deepening his brand’s consistency.
With all of the success that Johnson has had across genres, continents, and decades, there is much to be learned about his online branding strategy. The ease with which he leverages his social media following, the brilliant alignment of his real-life passions and product integration, the discipline he shows in content creation, and the vision with which he seeks out new markets are all strategies even the tiniest brand can learn from.