Kim Kardashian’s Butt:  A Lesson in Brand Identity

So, Paper Magazine announced its winter edition of their publication and gracing appearing on the cover was Kim Kardashian – full backside nudity.  If you haven’t seen it, you can click here (NSFW).

There are actually three poses of Kimmy K:  a full frontal nude shot, a full backside nude shot, and a shot that recreates this one.

I’m not sure if the Internet was broken by these photos (I experienced no outages), but it certainly gave the folks plenty to talk about.  Reactions are neatly placed into these three categories:

  1.  Go girl! Own your sexuality! (and, the male side of the coin, “Bruh…”)
  2.  Put some clothes on! You’re a wife and mother. Think about them!
  3.  I’m sick of seeing her backside.  Why is this news?  She’s famous for what?

This post will discuss category No. 3. because Nos. 1 and 2 are outside the scope of this blog.

Folks refer to Kim as “attention seeking”.  A publicity w****.   And, you can understand why many would think that; exposing yourself nude on the cover of a magazine will certainly get you a lot of attention – a move that many people would not do.  But, what I want my readers to know that this isn’t just attention seeking for the sake of it.  Kimmy K isn’t just a mere human being anymore.  She is a brand. And what must brands do?  Communicate that brand to the public via the use of their brand identity.  Do you see where I’m going yet?  No?  Keep reading.


Kimmy K is, in fact, a celebrity.  And by rule, celebrities are brands.  They are defined by what people think about them, they have a competitive positioning relative to other celebrities.  The mention of the name of a celebrity conjures up a mental image; an opinion; memories of past actions and a sense of the likely future behavior of the celebrity concerned.  In other words, people are interested in the “icon”, the freely-available public face, the thing with which the wider community has a relationship.  THIS IS THE BRAND.  

What does every brand have?  A brand identity. What is a brand identity, exactly?  It is “a name, term, design, symbols, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.  It is the ‘shadow of the brand'”.   So, what is Kim’s brand identity?  What identifies her and what she has to offer?  It is her look and physique. Nothing more, nothing less.  Sure, she may be an “actress” (e.g. sex tape, reality TV show, that one Tyler Perry movie), but really, at the end of the day, what Kim offers – over and over – are her looks and her shape.  And, over time, we have seen less and less focus on her face and overall beauty, and more on what has become the core of her brand identity – her butt.

Now, what must every brand do to survive?  They must strategically seek opportunities to communicate their brand via the use of their brand identity. Brands do this ALL the time!  I mean, think about how many logos/brand identities you see on a daily basis.  The difference with Kim is that since her brand identity is a body part – one that is usually covered up by clothing – it has thrown many in a tizzy for being seen in all of its glory on a magazine cover.  If her brand identity was a graphical design that represented a corporate entity, we wouldn’t be complaining about seeing it all the time.  The Paper Magazine cover was nothing more than the communication of her brand via the use of her brand identity.

But, here’s the real lesson in brand identity…

kim-kardashian-big-butt-paris-ftr Kim-kardashian-buttock-augmentation Kim-Kardashian

The unfortunate part of this is that unlike other bootylicious persons – JLo and Beyonce – who have padded their brand (no pun intended) with talent that is not based on looks and physique – Kimmy K’s celebrity brand is left wanting.  So, since her brand isn’t expanding beyond her looks and physique, her brand identity can only evolve inward…which is why it is no longer sufficient for us to just see pics of her in pencil skirts and a thong bikini.  She can no longer leave things to the imagination because since her brand has failed to add more “depth”, she has to take things a step further to keep her brand identity “fresh”.  This time, we get much more bold, in your face, booty.  *sigh*

I challenge Kris Jenner, the puppeteer behind the Kim Kardashian brand, to work really hard in helping Kim’s celebrity brand expand beyond looks so that this women’s brand identity can evolve outward into something that doesn’t age, sag, or droop.  Because that evolution, my friends, is inevitable.


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