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Monday, January 30, 2012

The Kardashian Mystique and The Paradox of the Great Brand

 Image: Screenshot from E! Online of Kim Kardashian at her wedding to Kris Humphries 

 Do you want to know why branding is so hard?

It's not because audience demand is unpredictable. That part is easy - find an underserved cluster and wow them.

(Elderly folks need a place to kibitz that isn't a nursing home; dads-on-weekend-duty probably don't want to be feminized by frozen yogurt places or the kiddie section at Barnes & Noble.)

No what is hard about branding is that it requires you to live a deeply personal and yet coldly professional paradox: On the one hand you can only create a vision of what you know and love. On the other you can only sell effectively when you don't care - or can be objective enough to ignore your feelings when they get in the way of sound business judgment.

Kris Jenner and the Kardashian sisters, along with Kourtney's partner Scott Disick, are absolute masters of this game. Maybe the mental rift caused by such an unhealthy life will bring Kim or Kourtney down; Kris is immune and Khloe is otherwise grounded.

But for as long as it lasts, the fantasy of one's personal emotional life lived baldly on stage, catering to the most dramatic wishes of the audience, makes this crew platinum in brand equity. And though I keep thinking they will fall down and it is over, somehow they keep getting back up again.

Part of me wonders who to credit for this success. I have concluded that it's a weird kind of synergy between the family and the E! channel, which seems to know how to pump them up perfectly.

I believe the brand genius here is due to some genius-like marketing craftsmen in the background, working magic as the people at the center play along.

And the ultimate trick is that no matter how the Kardashians mess up, it's always jus part of the script as if they'd planned it. Genius!

Never look down on anyone who's succeeding in marketing their brand through popular culture. Instead, watch them carefully for cues and clues.

Have a good evening everyone, and good luck!


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