This town ain’t big enough for the both of our brands…
Some celebs are so famous they become mononyms: Pelé, Adele, Morph… To anyone of our generation, there is unquestionably only one ‘Kylie’ and we do of course mean Ms Minogue. But for those fresh-faced hordes younger than us, there’s a possibility it might signify Kylie Jenner. (There’s even an outside chance they might be thinking of a non-returning boomerang but that’s another story.)
Kylie M is an ‘internationally renowned performing artist, humanitarian, and breast cancer activist’. Kylie J is the 18-year-old scion of the Jenner/Kardashian clan or, in the words of La Minogue’s lawyers, ‘a secondary reality-television personality in her family’s own reality show’. Meow! Kylie J has applied to register KYLIE as a trade mark in the US for clothing and beauty products and, not surprisingly, Kylie M has instructed lawyers to oppose this, lest fans be confused and brands be devalued. Kylie M may have got there first, but google KYLIE and see who’s currently getting most hits…
Divas, eh? Tch! Good job grownup brand-owners are never tempted to behave so childishly… except that legal history is littered with similar spats – Scandecor v Scandecor, Apple v Apple or the great-grandaddy of them all: Budweiser v Budwieser (surely the ‘Jarndyce v Jarndyce’ of the branding world, and something to which even ‘Kylie v Kylie’ is unlikely to come close).
The whole point of a brand is to allow the market to distinguish the goods and services of a particular undertaking from those of everyone else. Once a brand loses the power to distinguish, it loses its whole purpose and value. Sometimes there can be room for coexistence, but usually across different markets – when did anyone in the UK last nip out for some circular mints with holes in them (POLO) and come back with an award-winning hatchback (POLO) by mistake? Or buy a packet of floral foam (OASIS) when they really meant to get a bottle of soft drink (OASIS) (or – heaven forfend – a CD) instead?
But, to be fair to the Kylies, there aren’t many markets that would be big enough for two international
egos personalities. We fondly remember the time the WWF (Worldwide Fund for Nature Conservation) had to get all injunctive on the WWF (Worldwide Wrestling Federation) and force them to change their name to WWE (Worldwide Wrestling Entertainment). Go pandas! Smackdown! We’ll be watching this bust-up with every bit as much excitement.