Social & Influencers

Crown Affair founder Dianna Cohen is the brand’s No. 1 influencer

What started out as a Covid-era experiment turned into a social strategy for the hair-care brand.
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Dianna Cohen

· 4 min read

When hair-care brand Crown Affair officially debuted in January 2020, it had what seemed to be endless marketing opportunities ahead of it.

“We had this whole marketing calendar that was all about IRL,” Elaine Choi, president of Crown Affair, told Marketing Brew.

Then, as we all well know, Covid hit, bringing many of those opportunities to a halt. Founder and CEO Dianna Cohen asked how the brand could pivot, and Choi suggested she set up her tripod and get on camera—something Cohen says she had never done before.

Four years later, Cohen said her online following has grown from a few thousand to more than 60k followers across both TikTok and Instagram. She’s repeatedly gone viral for sharing “no-heat waves” hair-drying and styling techniques, while also getting traction on non-hair-related content about art, gua sha, fashion, and Kirkland cashmere. And, of course, she posts about Crown Affair.

“Not everybody is made for this, but I do love doing it,” Cohen told Marketing Brew, adding that it’s “one of those unique examples that has been a huge part of our strategy and channel, but didn’t start that way.”

CEO as influencer?

Cohen isn’t entirely green to the world of influencing. Before starting Crown Affair, she worked on partnerships and influencer and community marketing for some of the buzziest DTC brands of the 2010s, including Harry’s, Away, and Outdoor Voices. At Crown Affair, though, Choi said she helps manage the social strategy for Cohen and for the brand at large, comparing the dynamic to being in the kitchen at a bakery, while Cohen talks to customers up front.”

“It’s a myth to expect a founder to have to answer all emails, run the business operationally and then also be out in the world like Dianna [is]...spending hours making content, connecting with customers,” Choi said. “There aren’t enough hours in the day to be able to do everything.”

To help run things smoothly, Choi said that her team strategizes what content should come from Cohen directly versus what is better suited for the brand’s own account. A recent video where Cohen explains the origin of the brand name (which stems partly from her love of the 1999 film The Thomas Crown Affair) was posted on her personal account, not the brand’s page.

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In many ways, though, Choi said Cohen’s accounts serve as “a little bit of a beta-testing ground” for Crown Affair’s official channels. When one of her posts does well, the marketing team will find ways to make the content “a little bit more brand-forward” for the brand account, she added.

“From a measurable standpoint, when we reuse her content on our paid channels, she is our top-performing content,” Choi said. “And from more of an organic perspective, when she [posts] lifestyle content, we see so much traffic being driven to our brand page because I think people are interested in the life that she’s showing.”

Brand personified

Cohen says that the content she posts to her own accounts is very much driven by her own interests, whether that’s related to Crown Affair or not. Even when she posts about things like finding a perfect white T-shirt, the level of engagement helps Crown Affair finesse its own brand marketing narratives, Choi said.

Crown Affair began as a brand targeted to women “on their way,” according to Choi, and in many ways, Cohen—who identifies with that customer set—is the embodiment of that. That could be one reason why Cohen’s videos—like her five-minute-air-dry tutorials, which have gotten millions of views—tend to perform well for the brand.

“The stuff that resonates is the stuff that’s like, ‘Take your time back,’” Cohen said.

Becoming an ever-present face of the brand has also allowed Cohen to cultivate more personal relationships with customers by creating a “casual, conversational” alternative to the official brand account, Choi said. Through her personal accounts, Cohen’s also able to read and respond to feedback, including spotting requests for refillable dry-shampoo containers, which the brand recently rolled out.

“My biggest inspiration for what I post is when people reply to me on TikTok and I’m like, ‘I’m just gonna answer this,’” Cohen said. “The community’s telling me what they want. Why don’t I just answer?”

At the end of the day, Cohen said she wants to help people, whether that’s with a T-shirt recommendation or a Crown Affair-related inquiry. By sharing herself with others, she said it helps drive home to customers the brand’s aim to be authentic.

“Don’t just practice what you preach,” she said. “Preach what you actually practice.”

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