Home Thinking Aloud 6 Things The Kardashians Can Teach Us About Branding

6 Things The Kardashians Can Teach Us About Branding


by Ryan Currie, product manager at BizShark.com,

Kim. Kris. Khloe. Kameron. Wait, is Kameron a Kardashian? Who can even tell anymore? The Kardashians have done such a fabulous job branding themselves that they’re as ubiquitous as Netflix and LOL Cats.

Often chastised for their relentless desire for fame, the Kardashians can actually offer a lot of great lessons to marketers out there. After all, few families in recent history have more successfully branded themselves into a household name.

Lesson 1: Turn a negative into a positive.

Remember how the Kardashians first got famous? The story goes back to a…ahem… a less than kid-friendly video starring Kim Kardashian herself that was (supposedly) never meant to be made public. But when the video hit the web the Kardashian branding machine jumped into action: Kim and her family were all over the talk shows, apologizing to their fans (what fans?!), and giving magazine interviews about the price of fame. Brand established.

Lesson 2: Let the public see “behind” the brand.

“Keeping Up With the Kardashians” is a media juggernaut that’s been on the air for eight seasons and spurred not one, but three spinoffs. Turns out giving people a glimpse of the inner-workings of this perfectly-coiffed-and-made-up family was just the thing to make them more interesting. When the show first started it was a rare look behind the curtain, warts and all, and the honestly endeared fans.

Lesson 3: Align with brands you aspire to be like.

Kim and Kanye. Chloe and Lamar. Kris Jenner and Babyface. Scott Disick and…everyone who’s ever been to a nightclub, ever. The Kardashian brand has long been riding on the coattails of other, more established brands, starting with teen-icon Brandy (her brother was Kim’s X-rated tape partner.) From there the family’s standards for association have steadily risen, giving people the impression that they’re more famous than they actually are. Until they become so.

Lesson 4: Never stop expanding.

Does it make sense that the Kardashian girls own a clothing store? Yes. Does it make sense that they sell branded bottled water? No. Absolutely not. But people still buy it! The lesson here is to start out in an area your brand should naturally be part of. From there, never say no to an opportunity just because it seems off the mark. Eventually your brand will take on a life of its own and the brand will be the draw, not the product of the expertise. At least, you can hope.

Lesson 5: Fake it ‘til you make it.

The whole Kardashian family appears to have a “haters gon’ hate” attitude. And there are a lot of haters, to be sure. But the entire brood seems to have faith in what they’re selling and generally regarded themselves as famous before they were ever famous. This attitude, while admittedly annoying, convinced people they were worth paying attention to. And today they’re actually notable with a reported $100 million net worth. Who’s laughing now?

Lesson 6: Touch everything that bears your brand.

Some of the most boring scenes from “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” center around the business enterprises of Kim, Kourtney, and Khloe. But these scenes can teach us the most! Not only do the sisters work with competent, knowledgeable professionals when dealing with business matters, they all seem to have a very loud voice when it comes to products that bear their name. Whether it’s make-up, perfume, or even a branded credit card, the Kardashians have the final say. The second a brand lets its management be outsourced to someone else, the brand is at risk of diluting itself.

The Kardashians may be a drain on the collective American IQ, but they certainly know a thing or two about business. Branding on this scale has never really been seen before and it’s important to study the family and learn from their successes and mistakes.


Ryan Currie is a product manager at BizShark.com, with 5 years experience in online marketing and product development.  In addition to web related businesses, he also enjoys the latest news and information on emerging technologies and open source projects.