The New Mark

You may not be able to keep track of the rapidly expanding world of De Beers’ corporate lingo-or tell “best practice principles” from “supplier of choice”-but there’s one catch-phrase the company wants everyone to know: “DTC.”

“DTC” stands for “Diamond Trading Company,” the name of De Beers’ sales division. Now it’s the name of the entire marketing arm, replacing “Central Selling Organisation.” But “DTC” also will be an intra-trade brand name. “We want it to be famous in the industry to be a DTC sightholder,” says Stephen Lussier, De Beers’marketing director.

Which brings us to the “Forever” mark, which some see as De Beers’ way of entering branding through the side door. The mark does everything the original De Beers brand was intended to do-it drives demand for DTC-marketed goods, and it’s a “hallmark” that stands for non-treated and non-conflict diamonds. (De Beers says it isn’t planning to tout this fact in its advertising but won’t mind if sightholders do.) “A DTC diamond should stand for certain things,” Lussier says. He contends it’s analogous to the Woolmark or cotton emblem.

The mark is intended to be a “co-brand” for sightholders who have brands, but only for brands that exclusively use DTC stones. Only certain sightholders will be allowed to use it, and De Beers is still working on guidelines for its use.

By next year, the mark-which incorporates the famed “A Diamond Is Forever” slogan-will be part of every De Beers ad, replacing the company’s own name. The mark was designed by a professional design firm and doesn’t look like the conventional diamond-shape, which the company felt was overused. Instead, it went for something akin to a baseball diamond, and the final product recalls both an octahedron-shape and the sparkle of a star. “We wanted it to stand for diamond-ness,” Lussier says. The company wants to make the icon as famous as “A Diamond Is Forever.”

But what about the plan to market “De Beers” branded stones? Company officials are still interested. In fact, one of the reasons De Beers is insisting its clients use the name “DTC” and not “De Beers” is that it wants to save “De Beers” for its own brand. But the De Beers brand has faced a variety of legal and logistical stumbling blocks, and the company now sees it simply as an “add-on” reserved for the best-quality stones that will complement other brands in the marketplace. But De Beers isn’t sure when it will bring that “add-on” to market. Company executives hope to decide their next move by the end of the year.

Lussier does not rule out the possibility that De Beers someday will open retail outlets to sell its stones. This seems contrary to the company’s assurances that it will not vertically integrate, but Lussier says any retail outlet will be for promotional purposes. “If you build a brand, you might need the sort of place where people can experience the full brand vision,” he says. “We have no plans for this, but I don’t want to rule out something that could be true.”