The Kardashian Effect Is Killing Your Personal Brand


The Kardashian Effect Is Killing Your Personal Brand

There’s a foul undercurrent within the Small Business and entrepreneurial community that Personal Branding is about being hopelessly self indulgent. That your personal brand is all about you and what matters to you… without intention or regard for the audience (end user).

I like to call this the Kardashian Effect. It’s a phenomenon whereby fame for fame’s sake permits someone to share literally anything. The misconception is thinking that whatever you are doing,seeing or experiencing will matter to anyone else.

Case in point: Here’s an Instagram post by Kim Kardashian.


This little gem has received 382,000 likes. I think this is the proper place to use WTF!?

You are probably not a Kardashian but this phenomenon has snuck its way into many attempts at Personal Branding. Too often I see a snapshot, 140 characters, or aimless Facebook Live rant (you know who you are!) just for the sake of staying in view.

Consider this equation:


It looks pretty simple, right? But what’s missing? The audience is missing from the equation.

How often do you reach out like this?

This is how I like to approach it:


There are 3 very important differences here:

1. What is your goal? Transmitting your Personal Brand… or a meaningful, valuable message.

Your Message is a product just like anything else. It’s a free product. A touch point along the chain of your sales cycle. But make no mistake. It is a product. Your Personal Brand is a byproduct. It’s what happens organically as a result of consistently sharing valuable messages with the world. It’s not just a big smile and an optimised LinkedIn profile.

Your Personal Brand is a vehicle for your Message, not the product (Kardashian Effect). The message is what we need. It’s what the audience signs up for when they tune in. I tune into the channels of information that add the most value to me and my world. If there happens to be a compelling personal brand attached to it (think Gary Vaynerchuk) it becomes more sticky. But he didn’t start with a “personal brand”. He started with a message.

2. There is no Message with out a Receiver.

I’m a specialist portrait photographer. And I know that every single image I make – no matter how much care / time / money / intention / craft / humanity is injected into an image – the photograph is only 50% done.

We can only go half way because the final stage happens in the mind of every single viewer that comes into contact with the photos.

You can only say things, show things, in the best way you know how. But that is not the end of the process. Human beings judge everything, moment to moment. Our brains are processing machines and we either accept a thing as aligned with our own mission and purpose … or we dismiss it.

Take a stand and give your audience the chance to identify or dismiss. Remember it’s up to them to complete the process.

3. There is no Personal Brand with out an Audience.

You have limited control. Your personal brand is largely dictated by your audience and the feedback they provide. It doesn’t happen once and then it’s done. It is a constantly emerging, evolving creature.

Respecting people’s time and attention by curating and communicating in the most valuable, meaningful way attracts your audience. Keep showing up. Authentically. Don’t worrying about being authentic enough and just be. Say what you have to say the best way you can. It doesn’t matter if you’re not “ready”. It’s never going to be perfect anyway.

As your perspective and understanding shift, your message will shift. As you become more competent in conveying a message, your comfort will grow. You will gradually ease into the thing called your Personal Brand.

Every time I write or prepare to speak my own ideas shift subtly and I present them in a slightly different way. I wish you could have seen how this very article started out. As I wrote, I changed the angle a bit. Only incrementally, but there was a shift. And because my message shifted for this article the trajectory of my own personal brand has shifted. One millimetre of difference at arms length is miles and miles away at greater distances.

Refine your message and give it to the world, over and over and over. Hear your audience and take their feedback. Redraft and try again. You become your Brand. You don’t decide what it is and then wrestle it into relevance. Allow your honest insights and values to guide you. You will be authentic and it will resonate.

Don’t get me wrong…  As far as ‘personal branding’ goes, no one does it better than the Kardashians.  And if you’re the product and that’s what you have to offer then go for it.

As for me, I prefer a different angle.  I don’t want to be the product.  For now, I want to be the message and try to make a real difference in the world.

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