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You, Inc.: How to Upgrade Your Brand

With a rocking red lip, Ericka Pittman, VP of Business Development for Combs Wines and Spirits, offers brand-boosting tips.

Ericka Pittman, Sean “Diddy” Combs’s go-to marketer and the recently appointed VP of business development for Combs Wines and Spirits, LLC, in New York City, insists that the most important brand isn’t a label you wear—it is, in fact, you. “You are your only brand,” the 38-year-old Brooklyn native says. “What do people say about you when you’re not around? How is the world experiencing you?” That creates your personal brand. For those of us who don’t have a top-notch marketer like Pittman on staff, she offers this career advice:

WORK LIKE AN OWNER. “No matter what job you have, do it like you are the CEO,” says Pittman, who can also be seen on Bravo’s dating series The Singles Project.

CLAIM CREDIT. “Take ownership of your wins,” she says. Tell your boss and the decision makers what you’ve done—it creates a surround sound of cheerleading around your contributions. Pittman also recommends building a brag book: “When review time comes, you can easily refer to specific accomplishments. That’s particularly helpful when seeking a raise.”

TAP INTO YOUR FEMININITY. Pittman, a red-lipstick advocate, says one way to do that is to create disruption: Instead of wearing a typical gray suit, she leans toward “a beautiful blouse, a skirt suit of a different color and a pop of lipstick…. I’m the anomaly in a room full of the same.” Once you have everyone’s attention, focus on what you are prepared to deliver.

PARTNER WITH THE BEST. The most valuable lesson Pittman has learned working alongside music mogul Combs is to team up with incredible allies. “When he decided to launch a spirit, he went to Diageo, the largest supplier of wines and spirits in the world,” says Pittman. “As I build out my brand, I’ve learned to align myself with people who do what I am trying to do really well.” These people have helped her gain access to a new area and win.

This story was originally published in the December 2014 issue of ESSENCE, on newsstands now.