Skip to main content

An Unlikely Brand Maestro

Strong brands are a polarizing thing.
And so it is literally impossible for me to bring up the Kardashian Klan as a form of brand brilliance without somebody yelling "boo."
As in: "They're trash!" "I can't stand them!" "You're kidding me!"
But I have long said that the Kardashians, and in particular the "momager" Kris Jenner, are a stunning example of success in creating brand equity where there was none before.
  • Most reality show stars earn a pittance. The "Krew," in contrast, earns $10 million a season for their famed show, Keeping Up With The Kardashians, which is really nothing more than the cameras following them around as they do...not much of anything.
  • Kim Kardashian alone made $28 million in 2014, again for...not much of anything other than her body and her notoriety. 
  • And Kendall, aside from inking a monster deal with Estee Lauder to be the face of their makeup, reportedly earns $5,000 just for a single (140 character or less) Tweet.

But the real star of the show, one who has remained hidden in the background for a number of years, is Bruce.
Bruce represents the emotional heart of the family - what is real and honest and true. Not the image.
It is his approach that encapsulates "authenticity" and it is his style that will dominate corporate brands in the future.
I remember when Kendall and Kylie were very young. Bruce wanted to shield them from the limelight.
He didn't like Scott.
And he didn't like Kris pushing everyone around.
It turns out that Bruce had a secret all these years. But he kept it to himself until it was appropriate to share it.
And so he did, on national television. And completely stole the show from Kris and Krew in the process.
He was simply honest. He wasn't trying to get attention. But he was speaking up not just for himself, but for others who have been marginalized pretty much all their lives, for no reason other than that they represent a "threatening authentic self."
Being transgender is a very personal experience, and yet has been interpreted socially as an unjust and even shameful thing. 
What Bruce said, when I saw him on TV, was that he thought his message was much bigger than his narrow experience. And I agreed with him.
He said that the world needs a lot more tolerance. And it starts with adopting a live-and-let-live kind of attitude. You do your thing, and I will do mine.
On the same show, which was an episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Kris broke down in tears at the kitchen table. We saw her thick black mascara streaking down her cheeks.
Superficially she was a woman whose marriage had fallen apart, and I felt bad for her. But as a cultural text she was a brand whose image had not just fractured, but splintered, no - actually it shattered, it shattered into a thousand pieces.
All her carefully scripted moments of "being real," the episode where she had to get Depends for urinary incontinence - they were supposed to show an authentic Kris, but they were a lie.
What we really wanted to see, what we needed to see, and what brands will now need to aspire to, is the encapsulation of the most private of human experiences, packaged in a way that others can understand, tolerate, and value.
The brands that succeed at "being Bruce Jenner" are the brands that will succeed in 2015 and beyond.
___
All opinions are my own and not those of my agency or the federal government as a whole. Photo credit: "Bruce Jenner" by jla0379 - . Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Popular posts from this blog

What is the difference between "brand positioning," "brand mantra," and "brand tagline?"

Brand positioning statement: This is a 1–2 sentence description of what makes the brand different from its competitors (or different in its space), and compelling. Typically the positioning combines elements of the conceptual (e.g., “innovative design,” something that would be in your imagination) with the literal and physical (e.g., “the outside of the car is made of the thinnest, strongest metal on earth”). The audience for this statement is internal. It’s intended to get everybody on the same page before going out with any communication products.Brand mantra: This is a very short phrase that is used predominantly by people inside the organization, but also by those outside it, in order to understand the “essence” or the “soul” of the brand and to sell it to employees. An example would be Google’s “Don’t be evil.” You wouldn’t really see it in an ad, but you might see it mentioned or discussed in an article about the company intended to represent it to investors, influencers, etc.Br…

Nitro Cold Brew and the Oncoming Crash of Starbucks

A long time ago (January 7, 2008), the Wall Street Journal ran an article about McDonald's competing against Starbucks.
At the time the issue was that the former planned to pit its own deluxe coffees head to head with the latter.
At the time I wrote that while Starbucks could be confident in its brand-loyal consumers, the company, my personal favorite brand of all time,  "...needs to see this as a major warning signal. As I have said before, it is time to reinvent the brand — now.  "Starbucks should consider killing its own brand and resurrecting it as something even better — the ultimate, uncopyable 'third space' that is suited for the way we live now.  "There is no growth left for Starbucks as it stands anymore — it has saturated the market. It is time to do something daring, different, and better — astounding and delighting the millions (billions?) of dedicated Starbucks fans out there who are rooting for the brand to survive and succeed." Today as …

Should I Add My Beer-Focused Instagram Account To My LinkedIn profile?

This is my response to a question originally posed on Quora.

The answer, like lawyers tend to say, is: “It depends.”

Not knowing what you do for a living, let’s assume that your LinkedIn profile is typical, meaning that it reflects the image of a corporate professional.

Would your boss, or a prospective employer, think badly of you for promoting your passion for beer?

Traditional product branding says that you should focus on your unique selling proposition fairly single-mindedly. Your goal is to create a space in the customer’s mind dedicated to your brand so that when they want to purchase something like it, they shortcut all alternatives and go straight to you.

So from a product branding point of view, putting a personal beer account on your professional profile is distracting. It tells an employer that you’re not totally focused on the encyclopedic and ever-evolving knowledge, skills and abilities required to do your valuable type of job.

However, people are not products, and appl…