What You Can Learn About Brand Strategy from Caitlyn Jenner

What does your Google search history say about you?

It’s a weird. Something that seems so private is actually being collected by Google themselves, and could be quite revealing: your curiosities, your hopes, your fears, your ignorance.

So, I happen to get some interesting findings when I pulled some Google trend data about a year ago. This data revealed just how much of a splash Cailtyn Jenner made when she transitioned and calls for recognition for her, and her team,  for an epic rebranding. I decided to revisit the topic of Caitlyn Jenner to see where she stands a year later. 

Background - How Did This Research Come About?

As part of the MBA program I’m in, I had to do something creative. Anything creative at all.

Knowing that Google offers loads of analytic tools, I decided to use Google’s data to see what people around the world were searching for on a given day. I was curious to see what similarities and differences there were among us as a human race, from country to country. So, using the Google’s Trends tool, I searched for the top five Google searches for June 1, 2015, for the following countries:

  • United States
  • Colombia
  • United Kingdom
  • Germany
  • Egypt
  • Israel
  • Kenya
  • India
  • Russia
  • Hong Kong
  • Australia

What do all these countries have in common? Caitlin Jenner, Game of Thrones and Windows 10. Here's a map of what I found:

                             Google Trend data reveals the influence of the Caitlyn Jenner and Kardashian branding.

                             Google Trend data reveals the influence of the Caitlyn Jenner and Kardashian branding.

 

Why These Topics:

Windows 10 was making waves around the world. Microsoft announced that the new software will be available on July 29. Six of the 11 countries had “Windows 10” in their top searches.

Game of Thrones fans were terrified and intrigued by the full-on arrival of the white walkers. Two out of the 11 countries had “Game of Thrones, Season 5, Episode 8” in their top searches. This was before, you know, “Hold the Door.”

Let’s Focus on Caitlyn Jenner

Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair cover and first public announcement of her transition grabbed the attention of people all over. Eight of the 11 countries’ top Google searches included a member of the Jenner/Kardashian family.

I’m not a mind-reader; I can’t tell you why people all over the world were Googling the family. It may have been confusion, shock, surprise or just curiosity. 

What is interesting is Jenner’s brand strategy for the entire rebirth of her public persona. Jenner — with the aid of what I’m sure was an entire team of PR and marketing experts — carefully crafted this reveal, working every angle that marketers, social media strategists and PR pros blog about, teach about and give speeches at conferences about. Let’s review how she did her personal brand strategy pivot:

  • Traditional Media - Print! Of all things, she made her debut on Vanity Fair magazine. For a medium that’s supposed to be dying, it sure caught the attention of the world.

 

  • Influencers - Jenner worked with world-renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz for the Vanity Fair cover. Anytime Leibovitz is involved, it’s usually a big deal.
  • Social Media - Knowing the machine that is the Kardashian/Jenner Instagram accounts (with a combined following of nearly 300 million at the time of this blog post), Jenner’s striking magazine cover was shared with millions upon millions of people through Instagram alone.
  • Content marketing - I’d argue that the “I Am Cait” show and her social media contain some additional value other than solely promotions. She educates and uses her enormous audience for some good, sharing and spreading information about the struggles of transgendered people, albeit through some pretty rich rose-colored glasses.  

Her Brand Strategy

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: Jenner transitioned from male to female.

Prior to the transition, she was known as Bruce Jenner, Olympic champion, husband to Kris, father to the Jenners and step-father to the Kardashians.

Post transition, she’s know as Caitlyn and she’s her own freaking person. Admittedly not perfect, and admittedly not a realistic role model for transgendered people, she is a brand powerhouse compared to Bruce.

Now here's a look at all the marketing channels involved in her new identity and brand:

  • Her website - This looks like it was launched right when she came out, in summer 2015, and has since been a bit abandoned. It does contain a plethora of “resources” for youth and families, health, legal help, scholarships and suicide prevention for the trans community.
  • Instagram - Caitlyn Jenner has 6.9 million followers here. This is the mother load for her social media efforts.

 

  • Twitter - @Caitlyn_Jenner has 3.89 million followers. She tweets and retweets a variety of content, notably some from the Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD.
  • Facebook - With a respectable 1.5 million page likes, this is actually one her weakest channels. Content that’s similar to Twitter is posted here: part self-promoting, part educational.

What’s Consistent Across These Channels? This Sentiment:

I'm so happy after such a long struggle to be living my true self. Welcome to the world Caitlyn. Can't wait for you to get to know her/me.”

This is something that most people — transgendered or not — can identify with. We all struggle, we’re all searching for our true self. A year into it, Jenner is not only finding herself day-by-day, but she’s also monetizing it. Which, from a business and brand strategy perspective, is brilliant.