Kim Kardashian’s family image courtesy of Kim Kardashian Instagram
No, I am not a fan of Kim Kardashian. I don’t go gaga over the way she leads her life, although she is dripping with diamonds.
As a celebrity and a social media influencer, however, I’ve got to admit that she is extremely successful.
Touted as a new branding strategy to connect with Millennials and Generation Z, the book focuses on the larger-than-life celebrity Kim Kardashian-West and her illustrious (or ignominious) family members.
Underpinned by Sehdev’s experience as both celebrity whisperer and academic (he teaches at University of Southern California), The Kim Kardashian Principle purportedly incorporates a rigorous research methodology used in branding.
It provides an eye-opening expose on how celebrities got to where they did—sex, scandals, surgery, and other shenanigans—and narrates how the most successful entrepreneur, actors, and artists rose to their lofty heights.
The trick, as quoted by the book, is to be original:
“Celebrities who look and behave differently—often outrageously by old social norms—are getting all the attention, while the girls next door are overlooked.”
The SELFIE Principle
Touted as an “ambidextrous” methodology based on both science and art, the Kim Kardashian principle is anchored on the six principles of SELFIE (yep, that’s right!):
Join me in scaling the halcyonic heights of Hollywood stardom as we unravel each strand.
“Find What’s Unique About You and Amp It Up!”
Not looking the typical California sex symbol (blond and blue-eyed), Kim Kardashian is known more for her ample derriere than her looks. Yet she rocks the Hollywood world, standing out in the “sea of sameness.”
a) Be a Deviant
Celebrities such as Lady Gaga, David Bowie, and PewDiePie are known for creating their own identity. Like them, you should choose to be your unique self.
Do not let external forces define you. Instead, be an original. Create your own rules.
Just like Kim Kardashian who flaunted her pride in being a dark Armenian beauty, defying Hollywood’s culture of whitewashing.
b) Diversify and Innovate
Embrace people of different cultures, ways of thinking, and economic backgrounds. Don’t define your world in black and white.
Marriott did that with its media studio and hired creative filmmakers to cut through the competitive clutter in the hotel industry. Here’s an example of their efforts called “Two Bellmen.”
c) Don’t Copy Others
Being yourself means developing original ideas. These will help you to better resonate with Millennials and Gen-Zs who crave originality.
If the norm is technical complexity (eg Microsoft), aim to be simple (eg Apple).
d) Be Bad, and Don’t Say Sorry
These days, being bad means being good.
People tend to remember brands and individuals who dare to say, think or do something that nobody else has before.
Show your skin. Don’t play it safe—doing so will make you mediocre.
If Elon Musk did not get angry (and outrageous), SpaceX probably wouldn’t get anywhere.
#2 Expose (or Overexpose)
“It’s better to be Overexposed than Edited”
Transparency, transparency, TRANSPARENCY! That is the new mantra in the age of genuine authenticity—one where “contrived empathy, false charm, and manufactured remorse” falls flat on its face.
a) Flaunt it
If you’ve got it, flaunt it. Kim certainly does so every single day.
Take a step back to examine what your assets are. Be open in sharing your thoughts so that they are exposed to a wide audience.
Generate buzz by openly talking about your ideas. Don’t hold them back.
b) Tell the Truth
“Straight up, now tell me ,
Do you really wanna love me forever,
Oh, oh, or am I caught in hit and run?” – Paula Abdul
Hiding is hideous in the age of overexposure. As YouTube stars have shown, being real and unfiltered works better in connecting to your audiences.
Don’t just share successes—narrate your setbacks too. The more awkward your disclosure feels, the more authentic and relatable you’ll be.
c) Don’t Cover Up
What if you’ve screwed up? Well, Jeetendr recommends that you share what happened truthfully and openly.
Nothing disarms potential naysayers better than admitting that you’ve messed up. Being open about your challenges helps you generate more trust and goodwill.
d) Champion Yourself
Be the biggest advocate for your ideas, even when no one else seems to do so.
Champion your truth and let others champion theirs. A case in point is Chick-fil-A, which actively defended their Christian beliefs and closed on Sundays. On the flip side, Kardashian herself has actively championed the LGBT cause.
Courtesy of Chick-fil-A
e) Tell Your Tale
People love to read, hear and view stories. Use them to tap on the emotions of your audience, and captivate them with your sincerity.
f) Keep it Real
Be who you say who are. No more Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde!
As social media blurs the line between your private and professional lives, you need to ensure that there is coherence and integrity in what you post. Make sure that your words and body language are aligned.
“Fall in Love with Yourself and Let Your Fans See the Affair Unfold.”
Leadership in the social media age means being “real” and having integrity. To attract the Gen Ys and Gen Zs, you need to be transformational and not just democratic and consensual seeking.
a) Fear is a Friend
Fear can be a powerful emotion. In the case of Elon Musk, he used fear to pit his employees against each other, ensuring that they bring their A-game to work.
You can also use fear to help you plan in advance, and to challenge your team to exceed their own expectations.
b) Show Your Passion
Light up the world with your soul on fire. Ensure that your charisma and character isn’t just a facade.
Let your audience see your emotions, sacrifices, excitement and frustrations.
c) Don’t Compromise
If you mean it, say it. Fully commit to your perspective—never hesitate or hedge.
Embody your inner core values at all times, in all places, at all touch points.
d) Be Unafraid to Polarize
Powerful leaders are not afraid of offending others.
Don’t placate naysayers—instead use your strong views to sway neutral consumers to become supporters.
e) Love Your Haters
Haters can be powerfully motivating. Welcome them, and use them to hone and improve your craft.
Your haters could also trigger your fans to swing to your support—be sure to give them a megaphone to do so!
Prioritise oppportunities for supporters and haters to exchange opinions and even insults.
“Flaws are Fascinating. So Embrace Yours.”
Flaws are draws. Your weaknesses are what makes you interesting.
Today, Millennials are drawn towards people who show their vulnerabilities and products that show their flaws.
a) Champion Imperfection
Find the perfection in imperfection. Like Lane Bryant, which championed “real” women and challenged society’s long-held beauty standards.
When you’re real, your idea gets respect, not ridicule. You’ll convey a strong sense of self-belief and individuality, while differentiating yourself from others.
b) Love Yourself
Build your self-esteem and refuse to be intimidated by others. Like Jenna Lyons, who had so much self-love that she remade J.Crew in her image., and customers feel in love with her ideas.
Jenna Lyons of J.Crew (courtesy of Side Walk Hustle)
You are your idea’s best spokesperson—love it enough, and others will too.
c) Be Contradictory
Gary Vaynerchuk is a prime example of this. He has been caught contradicting himself time and time again.
Know that you’re a complex being with many ideas and opinions. As a natural multi-tasker, it is only natural for you to contradict yourself.
A case in point is Unilever—while Dove appeals to real women who define beauty internally, Axe appeals to real men who want a Barbie-doll hottie.
“Self Honesty Brings Intimacy.”
Valuing practical-mindedness over old-school notions of intimacy, today’s audiences are multifaceted. Focus on what you do in order to feel more fulfilled.
a) Be a Friend with Benefits
Move beyond the original utility from your products and services. Allow fans to define your product or entirely redefine your idea.
Act upon their feedback, suggestions and reviews.
b) Open Your Mind
Don’t demand exclusivity. Live in the moment and be fully engaged with your audiences.
Focus on creating good times that your audiences can upload, share and show off.
Improve their lives, and don’t be afraid to show your vulnerability.
c) Do Good to Feel Good
Find the cause and environment that matches your values, not vice versa. Or you create your own personalised environment.
“Do You in Everything You Do.” – Jeetendr Sehdev
Finally, remember to execute the SELFIE principle, using the guidelines above. Don’t wait for things to happen—Kim Kardashian certainly doesn’t.
Far from angelic, Kim Kardashian represents the antihero of the online age. She certainly isn’t everybody’s cup of tea.
While I do not subscribe to how she lives her life, she does embody certain values which are worth looking at in detail.
Thanks to the book The Kim Kardashian Principle which I highly recommend, you can now gain a deeper glimpse into how you can create your own celebrity brand.