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Brand or Product?

By Mary Schmidt, Marketing Troubleshooter

...or both?  There is a difference, but it does get confusing, even to marketers who talk about such things for a living.  

Kim Example: Kim Kardashian Inc. Her look and celebrity have made her a brand. But what, exactly, does she represent?

To me, she represents - well - not much.  Until I read the NYT article, I was only barely aware of her as one of those interchangeable reality show "stars" (and isn't Bruce Jenner her step-dad or something? Yawn.) But then I'm not her "target customer."  What's she selling?  What are people buying? the branding expert Robert K. Passikoff put it in a phone interview this week, “You would have had to be living in a cave in Nepal to have not been exposed in one way or another to the celebrity ilk of Kim Kardashian.”

I may have to look into a cave as a second home. But I digress.

The NYT article tells us she and her family have a "branding empire that includes fashion boutiques, fitness videos, credit cards, a best-selling fragrance, skin care products and a self tanner."

So, in other words, the name and image is slapped on any number of otherwise generic products.  Somehow, I don't see anyone ever saying, "I LOVE my Kim Kardashian credit card! She's got great customer service!"

Snooki More power to her (and her sisters) for turning their luck of the reality show draw into an "empire." Regardless of what I think of them, that takes entrepreneurial chutzpah.  However, all they have is a "brand" -  one which, by its very nature, is difficult to sustain, as the next flavor of the month comes along. (Methinks Snooki could give them a run for that self-tanner biz.)

For the rest of us in the real biz world - we need both a brand AND a (quality) product.  The style AND the substance.  





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