What the Kardashians Can Teach You About Branding
Building brands is simple, but it’s certainly not easy; it takes consistency, investment, and products that reinforce the brand’s messaging. Whether you love or hate the Kardashians, it’s clear that they know how to build brands.
Kourtney, Kim, Khloé, Kendall, and Kylie are each worth millions, if not more, through a diverse array of products branded by the women themselves. Over the years, the Kardashians have built a true following, beginning with “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” to the more recent Kylie Lip Kit launch. Their successes reinforce three rules that all branding marketers should know.
Rule 1: Know your audience.
These women truly understand their audiences. Each Kardashian is able to tell her individual brand story across platforms and channels (not just E!) aimed at their vastly different audiences. Positioning themselves on social media and their TV shows to directly reflect their individual brands has proved successful. From blurring out specific non-image-compliant brands to dropping which designer they’re wearing, these women continue to push their images and build the “trust” they know their audiences expect.
What’s most interesting is that they are able to create and promote products that both appeal to their audiences and shape the industry as a whole. The trust they’ve built allows them to be true leaders, and their audiences will follow them almost anywhere they go.
For each of our clients, we must determine their target audience. We must speak their language, build a relationship of trust, and meet the target where they are in their brand journey to convert them into customers and advocates.
Rule 2: Be true to yourself.
The name Kardashian generally isn’t outwardly associated with authenticity. The sisters seem to constantly one-up each other with new products that enhance a certain body part. However, they have somehow managed to win the world over with their perceived “realness.” What a dichotomy, since they are chock-full of plumpers, wear tons of makeup, dress only in designer duds, and stage every social media post they publish. And yet their followers can’t get enough of their authenticity. Their fans love glimpsing their messy lives as a real family behind the scenes.
Another side of the Kardashians’ authenticity is their individual abilities to own up to their frequent challenges and scandals. Their onscreen personalities, ownership of their perceived flaws, and talent for appearing real while being entirely curated are part of their brand magic.
People generally distrust brands. But when you can relate to your customers and build trust with them, they will follow your brand almost anywhere you want to take it. Which leads me to Rule No. 3...
Rule 3: Don’t be afraid to evolve.
If you look back at the beginning of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” you may be shocked by what you see: a vastly different style between the sisters and a pre-lip-plumped Kylie. Over the years, these women have defined and developed their individual styles, tastes, and what they choose to share with the public.
It’s impressive to see their evolution and how they embrace it. They understand that like any person, they, too, must evolve, and they are doing it in a very public way. Kylie was ashamed of her lips, so she got lip fillers. And then to help millions of other self-conscious teens, she created Kylie Cosmetics (and the infamous Lip Kits). She’s evolving both her looks and her brand. On her website, Kim has a video in which she reads and makes fun of her own tweets. What a brilliant way to take personal growth in stride while also creating new and interesting content for her audience!
While the fundamental rules of branding and marketing haven’t changed much, the execution certainly has. How you find your audience, how you talk to them, and what you offer them will always be important. We may not all have the opportunity to be on TV, but we do have to understand that the way brands show up in the world impacts their success.
Although the Kardashians make it look easy, we know it’s anything but. If you have any branding or strategy questions, please check out our website and the work we’ve done. We’re proud of how we’ve helped brands and films premiere in style.