I know - it doesn't seem right to be taking business advice from Kimmy Kardashian West, but, here we are.
Although, let's be fair here, Kim Kardashian West is worth an eye-watering $350 million from her range of business ventures, so maybe we shouldn't guffaw too much. She clearly has a knack for being a self-made success.
But, despite her vast business triumphs and (I'm assuming here) a large team of business, marketing and financial advisors, it was pretty stupid to name her body-shaping wear after a garment that's been symbolic of an entire culture for hundreds of years.
Earlier this year, the buxom brunette launched her range of shapewear. The principle of it was actually pretty good; 9 shades to suit a range of skin tones, sizes from XXS - 4XL (around size 2-4 to 20-22 in UK sizing) and the designs will be combatting some of the most frustrating clothing dilemmas fashionistas are faced with when dolling up for a night on the tiles. So, it should have been a fairly flawless launch, right?
Well, yeah...until she named it Kimono Shapewear and p*ssed off an entire nation. D'oh.🤦♀️
Announcing the venture on her Instagram (to her mere 142 million followers) I’m sure she wasn’t expecting a backlash of comments as she popped the cork of her Vueve. I mean...serious backlash.
...and these folks....
OK, you get the picture. Lots of rightly unimpressed people. So what did she do? She’d already spent (I’m assuming) at least the average salary on getting this brand launched and in a statement to The New York Times the week before she resolutely refused to consider a rebrand.
BUT...she has since changed her mind...once again taking to social media to communicate with her audience. She said,
"I am always listening, learning and growing - I so appreciate the passion and varied perspectives that people bring to me...My brands and products are built with inclusivity and diversity at their core and after careful thought and consideration, I will be launching my Solutionwear brand under a new name."
I didn't see any sign of an actual apology to an upset culture. In fact, it felt more like their PR person had a little side-word with Ms KW, probably along the lines of: "Shits going down on social media and if you don't change the name, they'll rip us to shreds and I have four penthouse apartments to upkeep." But, sadly, when you're a powerhouse like a Kardashian-West, the fact she changed the name at all, we take as a win.
So what do we learn here?
When you're launching a brand, do some market place testing. Hell, hold a focus group OR SOMETHING - just ask around and get some feels.
Social media is a huge DIRECT communication route between you and your real-life customers; ask their advice, apologise, speak to them and share with them.
When you make a mistake - own it and apologise. This article in Forbes "10 Powerful Examples Of Corporate Apologies" gives some good examples of how to do that. Perhaps someone should have shared that with someone else!
And, Kim, if you're reading this, I'm taking on new clients so feel free to get in touch with me 👉firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm now approaching the 10-years-in-marketing mark. I specialise in helping stressed-out business owners and Directors with a badass strategic marketing plan, including a sweet social media presence, marvellous mailings, cracking creative campaigns and awesome audits.
Get in touch if you're itching for your marketing to step up a notch. 📣