It’s time to talk about the un-trendy side of personal branding and celebrities.
How do celebrities like Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian go from barely recognised to household names in the blink of an eye? Well, it might feel like the blink of an eye to us, but for these celebrity’s marketing teams, it’s been one very long and strategised road to fame.
MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT THE ‘QUEEN’ OF PERSONAL BRANDING
People like to think that Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner execute all of their own amazing and carefully planned marketing campaigns. Out of curiosity, I typed “Kim Kardashian’s marketing manager” into Google, and the top search results included headlines such as “4 marketing lessons you can learn from Kim Kardashian,” “Why Kim Kardashian is the world’s best marketer” and “How Kim Kardashian is a marketing genius.” But the reality is that Kim Kardashian has a whole team of marketing experts behind the scenes, working on her personal brand, day and night. If you’re under the impression that Kimmy K’s well-oiled backside gracing the pages of Paper magazine was all her own idea, you’re sorely mistaken. The Kardashians’ PR and marketing team may not have set out to break the internet, but they certainly knew what they were about.
WHAT NO ONE’S SAYING ABOUT THE FORBES/KYLIE JENNER ‘SELF-MADE’ DEBACLE
Now we just want to make one thing clear from the start. Being ‘self-made’ doesn’t mean that you have never, ever required the assistance of anyone during your entire career progression. Many successful businesses and entrepreneurs regarded as ‘self-made’ have secretaries, stylists, business advisers and marketing teams. But the term ‘self-made’ is largely associated with starting at the bottom and pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps. The reason why everyone was up in arms about Kylie Jenner being coined as ‘self-made’ by Forbes, is because she began her journey to success as a member of an already wealthy and privileged family, which, many would argue, gave her a significant head start.
But Forbes media and entertainment reporter Natalie Robehmed has since explained the terminology behind their decision. Speaking on Mamamia’s The Quicky, she said, “Forbes defines self-made in opposition to inherited wealth… If you inherited your company and inherited your entire fortune, you don’t count as self-made but Kylie counts as self-made because she started her company herself, she did not inherit it.”
While the internet is littered with think pieces on this topic, what we have noticed is that no one appears to be talking about the other people who have assisted Jenner to skyrocket to fame and fortune – her marketing and PR team, years of personal branding since the age of 10 on Keeping Up With The Kardashians and her strategic partnerships.
Years of personal branding and marketing aside, you’d probably be shocked to hear that Kylie Cosmetics only has seven full-time, and five part-time staff members. Robehmed also explained she outsources most of the work behind the scenes. Momager Kris Jenner obviously looks after finance and PR, and she utilises online retail platform Shopify. But the key ingredient to the Kylie Cosmetics success (apart from social media) is the outsourcing of the cosmetic manufacturing and strategic partnerships. What you may not see much of on Keeping Up With The Kardashians is the partnership with cosmetic manufacturer Seed Beauty. Founded in 2014 by Laura and John Nelson, Seed Beauty focuses on strategic influencer partnerships. Keeping a low profile so the influencer brands can flourish, Seed Beauty has near to no social media presence and little information on their website. The insight they provide gives a glimpse into their success, “With a unique combination of insight and foresight into the new world beauty landscape, we are the premier destination for acceleration & scaling in the beauty industry. WE bring brands and products to the consumers faster than anyone else in the world.”
Sure social media, TV fame and personal branding helped Kylie grow an audience, but it’s the strategic business partnerships which have enabled her to develop the now beloved Kylie Cosmetics.
MAKING SOMETHING FROM…NOT MUCH
Now we aren’t going to sit here and cast aspersions on the character and talents of the likes of Paris Hilton and the Kardashians. What we’re trying to say is, these celebrities have undergone some very heavy personal branding in their time to become as famous as they now are. Despite Paris Hilton’s forays into music (we mean her studio album, Paris, not her surprisingly successful DJ-ing career) and film (has anyone actually sat through House of Wax?), she has always been at her most prominent when she has simply been ‘herself.’ Her role in the reality TV show, The Simple Life, solidified her personal brand: rich, spoilt, carefree and deliciously entertaining to a huge audience. Paris may have wandered in and out of the public psyche between 2003 and today, but her brand has been ever-present, and ever-expanding. Paris’ perfume empire is worth over $2 billion (US), and she is STILL being paid ridiculous sums just to show her face at clubs and parties. This, surely, is a testament to the brand consultants, PR gurus and marketing aficionados behind a sole woman with a VERY big, and, let’s face it, impressively enduring, personality.