Behind every successful–and successful is the keyword here–reality TV star is a sophisticated marketing engine that’s always working overtime to make money out of one of the entertainment industry’s most fickle commodities. And like her or not, Kim Kardashian has emerged to be one of the post-2000s most enduring brands. While she’s gone after typically celebrity-friendly verticals by chasing a music career, selling fitness videos, and her own fragrance, she’s also experimented in less glamorous stabs at marketing, like lending her name to a very sketchy credit card targeted to teens. So what exactly can we take away from one of the 21st century’s unlikeliest entrepreneurs?
Diversify. If ever there was a time to bet a little in a lot of places than the other way around, then it’s now. By investing in everything from a pop career to the credit vertical, Kardashian is minimising risk. As she had no identifiable niche when she ended up in showbiz–after all she’s famous for being famous–she realised very quickly that the only way to make money would be to stick her name on a variety of products and figure out which would give her the best return.
Message, not medium. Whether it’s TV or Twitter–where she earned $25K from luxury brand Armani for a single tweet–Kardashian is great at staying in the conversation. Most brands have a difficult time with this, but KK is literally everywhere. This is why she’s able to monetise everything from tweets to bad pop songs–her brand equity is ubiquitous. Because she’s a constant part of the media’s cultural conversation, the products she endorses enjoy instant and frequent publicity.
Maintain your image. To her credit, Kardashian has never deviated from the image of herself that she portrayed. By aligning herself with E!, Kardashian at once narrowed herself to a specific niche–entertainment and lifestyle–while keeping her brand appeal flexible. As with any image, Kardashian’s has its limits. While hawking Skechers could feasibly be within her wheelhouse, diet pills are a dicier enterprise. However, neither are irrelevant to who she is as a lifestyle brand.
Longevity. Kardashian’s ability to grab headlines and endorse products, though, is a practiced skill. Because much of her business model rides on her very name, this means her career can’t tolerate the kind of meltdown that appears to be typical in Hollywood. While the party invites, TV spots, and lucrative product endorsement deals all work best in tandem with one another, they’re nothing without the brand name that Kardashian has turned herself into.
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