The age of celebrity branding is in full swing. From Polaroid hiring the meat adorned, egg hatched Lady Gaga as their “Creative Director” to the Kardashian Klan brought in to “design” a line of clothes, shoes, accessories and more for Sears, one important thing has been tossed aside in the name of celebrity. That thing is called PRODUCT.
Polaroid chairman Bobby Sager claims that he wants Polaroid to be the next Apple, so what does he do to achieve that? He hires Lady Gaga as a faux “creative director” for the brand. I have a tip for Bobby. Apple is Apple because of design, not because of celebrity firepower. Apple has never used celebrities nor has it ever used focus groups to determine where their product should go. Innovation comes from a deep creative process. If Polaroid wants to reinvent itself as an innovative leader, they should focus on product design and technological advancements, not gimmicks. Celebrities are fleeting. Great design is iconic.
Next on the agenda is the Kardashian sisters being paid to “design” a line for the tired Sears brand. I watched a segment the other morning on Good Morning America about the Kardashians “creating” their Kollection. The Kardashians have not created or designed anything. They have simply licensed their name. They flew out on a private jet to view the line for the first time in a mini store within Sears with the clothing already designed, produced, shipped and out for sale. Their claim to the design of their product line demeans the design process and the lengthy and complicated process of manufacturing a product.
These are just a couple of the myriad of celebrity brands. Jessica Simpson, Nicole Richie, and yes, even the ultimate Jersey Girl Snooki, all have product lines in their namesakes. It’s not enough for celebrities to become celebrities anymore; they often seem to need more. Actors selling makeup, singers selling clothing, reality show losers selling shoes, greed and America’s insatiable appetite to get a piece of the wealthy and famous seems to have taken over its desire for anything of lasting and meaningful value. Great design, perhaps with the exception of Apple, has become a niche market.
There are two approaches to building a brand. You can create a great product, with fabulous design and an honest brand story that will build a lasting brand. You also can find a celebrity, license their name and attach it to anything for success that will be a flash in the pan. In my book, a great brand and innovative design supersede anything that any celebrity can bring to the table.