What can brands learn from Kim Kardashian

Today we look at what brands can learn from reality TV star Kim Kardashian*, based on this article by BBH's Kate Nettleton. Its dedicated to my 16 year old daughter, Jessica, who is one of the many millions of young folk who, for some inexplicable reason, follows the Kardashians.

*If your response is "Who the **** is Kim Kardashian, then you are, like, so totally, like, out of it. Kim's statistics are impressive (no, not those statistics, behave at the back of the class): annual income of almost $30million, fuelled by c. 30 million followers on Instagram and Twitter, and a game with revenues estimated to reach $200million. Yes, I know. What is the world coming to …. Oh well, here we go

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1. Distinctiveness is more 
important than differentiation

I love the way that Kate uses Kim to make this point, which I've posted on many times. As she says, "If Kim K proves anything it’s that fame isn’t about offering something different, it’s about doing it in a way that’s bigger and better, and communicating it in a way that’s distinctive".

Kate goes on to illustrate this point by referring to one of Kim's most valuable brand assets (stop sniggering): "Kim’s bum isn’t different she just made it look bigger and better. With some liberal oil application, and a talented photographer, she rode the wave from waif, to booty." 

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2. Fresh consistency  

Kate points out that Kim is strong enough to ignore all the negative attacks she takes from internet "trolls" and stay true to her brand promise, "rather than reacting to any negative result, comment or bump in the road." She suggests that brands need to be more consistent as well, something that is hard to do in today's world where companies are bombarded with real-time data about how people are reacting to their brand: "We’ve lost sight of the need to stick to our guns. We need to have the steeliness of character to not react to every comment, red traffic light, or slight downturn in sales."

3. The power of brand alliances

In case you didn't know, Kim K's most famous "brand partnership" is her marriage to pop star Kanye West. This was a carefully thought through alliance, based on the fact that her future husband had a first name that also started with a "K" 😉 This protects the K part of the brand identity, with her sisters called Kourtney, Kendall, Kylie and Khloé and her mum Kris.

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In addition, Kim K. has "leant her name to an iPhone game that made $43m in just three months, as well as lucrative deals with everyone from Armani to weight loss brands."

Kate points out that brands can also benefit from carefully choses partnerships, to "confer qualities onto a brand that perhaps weren’t previously there and utilising established infrastructures, and audiences."

So there you have it. There are actually some branding lessons from Kim K.: be distinctive, be consistent and seek out alliances.