5 Branding Lessons Entrepreneurs Can Learn from the Kardashians

Personal + Professional Branding

Whether you love them or hate them, when it comes to the Kardashians, three things are probably true:

  • You feel strongly about them, one way or another.
  • You can probably name at least three of them.
  • You’re likely able to recite five of their news story headlines. (Yes, that includes you too, haters – don’t pretend you don’t know the stories relating to ‘Break the Internet’ and ‘Married for 72 Days’!)

No matter where you stand on the divisive cast of characters, you can’t argue that their branding game is on point. And when it comes to your business, I’ll bet you’d want the three above statements to be true to your brand’s target audience as well. Entrepreneurs and small business owners alike can learn from these principles that have helped the Kardashians become one of America’s most recognizable brands:

1. Take lemons and turn them into lemonade

A former boss of mine always used to say that every challenge is an opportunity to learn and grow. The Kardashians have certainly taken this mindset to heart, always spinning negatives into opportunities. What did Kim do when her private tapes leaked online? She used it to her advantage to build an empire. How did Khloe react to all the negative comments about being the ‘chubby’ sister? She became the fittest sister of the group. As a business leader, there are always going to be challenges that could drag you down, but take an opportunist attitude and learn from seemingly negative situations and use them to your brand’s advantage. Become that business that always sees the glass as half full and make every situation work for you.

2. Define what you want to be known for

Over the top. Always primped and polished. Curve central. Those are three traits that are undeniably associated with Miss Kimmy K herself. She wants to be known for that famous derriere, hence moves like the infamous cover shot for Paper magazine’s winter 2014 cover. She wants to be known for her fashion-forwardness, hence never leaving a hotel with as much as a single strand out of place. Kim has defined her brand personality’s characteristics and lives them every day. When thinking about both your personal and your business brand, clearly define how you want them to be perceived and always execute accordingly.

3. Stay true to your brand’s foundation

Whether they’re developing makeup, kids’ clothing, apps, retail stores or blow dryers (yes, seriously), every product slapped with the Kardashian name on it will share certain common traits: sleek, aspirational and on-trend. There’s no saying that your brand has to stay within one niche category, but any brand extensions you develop as a business owner must remain in line with the overall brand story and perception to maintain recognition with your target consumers.

4. Consistency is key

Remember before Kimye was a thing, Kim’s style was all over the place? Since pairing up with her famous rapper hubby, she’s evolved to a mostly monochromatic, streamlined and smile-free bodycon style. We’d be shocked if we ever saw Mrs. West show up on a red carpet in a pink princess-style dress. In business, your customers will grow to expect certain elements from your brand – a consistent tone of language, a specific colour palette, blog posts on a specific day, even a signature font. Deliver a constant and stable brand experience for your customers so they become familiar and comfortable with what they can expect from you.

5. On the other hand, don’t be afraid to experiment + evolve

While maintaining consistency is a staple for the majority of brands, what if your brand personality is known for constantly experimenting? Looking no further than the youngest of the K-sisters, Kylie Jenner. Kylie brands herself as the chameleon of the group, always playing with a rainbow of hair colours, lengths and styles. If something doesn’t work, she’s okay with hitting the reset button and trying something new. Evolution is a staple of the Kylie brand, while still staying in line with the overall family brand positioning of being sleek, aspirational and on-trend.

While not all of us may be interested keeping up with the Kardashians and their publicity-driven family antics, as business owners we can all most definitely take a page from their book of branding.

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Lisa Simone Richards, Principal of Vitality PR & Communications, has spent more than ten years working with businesses of all sizes to plan and execute branding, public relations and marketing communications strategies. Her clients have secured coverage in some of North America’s largest media outlets including Shape, Oxygen, Self and FitnessRX for Women. As a sought-out speaker, panelist and writer, Lisa Simone has been featured in the Globe & Mail, FASHION, SheKnows and more.

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