How Kate Middleton Created Her Professional Brand

Professional branding tips of Kate Middleton
Original image of Kate via Vogue UK

 The 7 Ps of marketing is a framework used by companies and brands to sell products or services. Whether you’re shopping for a new shirt, planner or hair stylist, you often experience the story of the product or service as it’s being told through the 7 parts that make up the brand’s marketing. 

Just what are the 7 Ps? They are product, price, promotion, placement, packaging, positioning and people.

What's personal branding list

Not only are the 7 Ps used in commercials and social media advertising for that pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing, but they can also be used to shape your professional brand. Whether you’re working at a retail store, an engineering firm, a hospital or Buckingham Palace as a Duchess, you have a professional brand. 

Your brand is what allows others to gain insight into who you are and what you do. It’s an extension of your reputation and can be purposefully shaped to ensure that it is telling the best and most authentic story about you. 

Some may think of this as a personal brand since it's about you, but as we consider applying this to our careers, it's helpful to think of it as your professional brand.

Why does a professional brand matter? 
Because your story is what connects you to other people and can help ensure your career journey heads in the direction you want.

Kate Middleton, aka the Duchess of Cambridge, provides endless fashion inspiration for royal fans. However, there is more to her image than meets the eye. Though she is a titled member of the royal family, she, like all of us, has a professional brand. Kate's brand has evolved since her days at university with careful cultivation to make her the Duchess we know today. 

To better understand the 7 parts of branding and how to use them for your own brand, we’ll dive into the key aspects of Kate Middleton’s brand as Duchess of Cambridge. As you read through each of the Ps for Kate, think about what each P means in your own brand.

If you need a refresher or more details about each part of the 7 Ps, you can take a look at this original post called "The 7 Parts of Your Professional Brand." 

What's personal branding
Original images of Kate via Vogue UK and Getty
As Duchess, Kate is not selling a tangible product or even creating her brand in the hopes of securing a dream job. Instead, her product is in the form of representing the Queen and Crown. Whenever she steps outside the palace walls, she is on stage for the public and paparazzi. Every element that is seen or heard when she is on stage combines to form an impression, contribute to her reputation and acts as an extension of Queen Elizabeth II. Kate’s time, presence and words are her product.  

What's personal branding
Original images of Kate via Marie Claire and Getty
Pricing is all about money. Kate's pricing as a Duchess works a bit differently than those of us working in the corporate world or running our own businesses. Kate's pricing does not necessarily come in the form of a paycheck or price tag, but through the value she demonstrates to the public and royal family. By using other Ps from the 7 Ps framework like packaging and positioning, Kate is able to increase her price value. 

With touches of grandeur in tiaras, elegant gowns and fairytale worthy imagery, her pricing as a Duchess continues to increase. Additionally, as she continues her role as a positive representative of the Crown and takes goodwill actions within the community, she proves her value and the price of her royal paycheck. 

What's personal branding
Original images of Kate via the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Instagram
Promotion includes where the brand is shared with the world. Kate’s professional brand is promoted indirectly through things such as media coverage, organizational partnerships and charity support. Her branding is more directly managed through the official royal website and most recently through the @dukeandduchessofcambridge Instagram account. By using the power of social media (a form of placement being used to promote) Kate’s professional branding has reached a new level of personalization with posts and videos about her work in the charity space.  

The pictures in the above promotion collage are from her Instagram account and demonstrate Kate's roles within the community. With these images, she was able to post about her work, charitable partnerships and support of key research initiatives in a way that connects directly with her audience. With many of her royal duties being connected to charity work, the promotion of her efforts are closely connected to her positioning (as you'll see below in the positioning section). 

What's personal branding
Original images of Kate and Palace via Town & Country Magazine, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Instagram and The Royal Parks
Prior to marrying Prince William in 2011, the Duchess of Cambridge was Kate Middleton at the University of St. Andrews. As her place or location changed, Kate had to also make a branding transition to match her new role. What worked for her branding while a university student, retail worker at Jigsaw or girlfriend of the Prince would not be appropriate for her as a Duchess. As her physical place changed, so did her brand and all of the other supporting parts that make up her brand. 

Placement is where a product or brand is sold. For Kate, this reflects the physical placement of the royal palaces, her time spent at charities and speaking engagements, as well as her online presence through the royal website and Instagram account. 

What's personal branding
Original images via Vanity Fair, Brides Magazine and Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Instagram

Packaging in professional branding is made up of external visual cues and fashion choices. One of the key ways to identify Kate’s professional branding and messaging is through her fashion choices. Over the course of her first decade as a Duchess, Kate has stayed true to the preppy style first seen in her university days, while also continuing to elevate her look with classically chic styles. Though elements of her style have evolved over the years, Kate typically packages herself in tailored dresses and heels, along with an array of pretty coat dresses. And more recently has made appearances in stylish pant suits, like the dark green suit worn during an appearance in Scotland.  

She has made a point of supporting British brands, with a particular fondness for designer Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen. She wore the designer on her wedding day and continues to showcase the chic suits and dresses, including the buttercream combo at Prince George’s christening and a silky dress in a shade of blush to her sister Pippa's wedding (both seen in the above collage). By choosing British brands, Kate sends ripple effects through the British economy since anything she wears sells out as fans rush to buy the same items. Her fashion choices surpass the aesthetic and become a beacon for key messages.  

While her outfit choices from McQueen send a message to buy local, Kate’s tendency to repeat outfits sends a message of sustainability, frugality and relatability. Her choice to wear the same creamy colored coat dress to weddings in 2006 and 2011 (seen in bottom left photo of collage) demonstrates how good style does not have to be bought newly off the shelf. Instead, a chic look can often be found in our own closets. By investing in high quality and classic pieces she can wear on repeat, Kate indirectly sends a message against fast fashion and making choices that better support the health of the planet. 

What's personal branding
Original images via the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Instagram 

Positioning connects the brand to key words and ideas. As we already know, Kate is closely aligned with key charities and causes. Using the promotional tools of social media, Kate is able to communicate her position, feelings and support for particular ideas and topics. By posting on Instagram about her journey to help early childhood development, including the launch of The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood, as well as charity visits like her recent one to the Natural History Museum, Kate is communicating what she cares about and ultimately what her brand represents. 

In addition to positioning herself as a partner with charities or outreach programs, Kate also posts images with her family. By sharing moments like the one at the first day of school, Kate communicates her role as a mother. This role is a quick point of connection with mothers around the world. This shared experience with other mothers can then pave the way for further connections and conversations about topics beyond motherhood.

Kate also benefits from what is often called the halo effect, where a person or brand is seen more positively because of their connection to another positive person or brand. By placing herself inside the work of childhood development research and outreach, or promoting nature education at the museum, Kate is communicating her stance as an ambassador for positive change and positioning herself as an ally in these efforts for good. 

What's personal branding
Original images of Kate and royal family via Shutterstock and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Instagram

People are the final component of the 7 Ps and include the teams, networks and connections that help a brand succeed. Behind the finished product we see when Kate speaks at an event or pops up on our social media feed, is a team that works together to bring the brand to life. Kate's team includes her personal assistant and stylist, Natasha Archer, who helps craft the amazing looks seen on red carpets and at events. Natasha can serve as Kate's partner in style to make sure all her style choices make the right statement.

Additional people include designer Sarah Burton at the Alexander McQueen label. Though not directly on Kate's everyday team like Natasha, Sarah is part of an extended partnership network that helps craft the brand of Kate Middleton through packaging. Sarah serves as a participant in the brand that Kate is working to communicate.

Kate's people portion of her brand extends beyond her immediate team to the royal family as a whole. Though Kate's professional brand exists on its own, it is also ingrained in the larger image of the Crown and royal institution.   

How to create a professional brand

So there you have it, the 7 parts of Kate Middleton's professional brand. Just like Kate, you have a professional brand. Though you may not be working as a Duchess, your brand can be created and shaped for your own story and success. By thinking about each part of the 7 Ps and what they mean for your professional brand, you can use your brand to help reach the career of your dreams. 

If you need some more inspiration to get ideas flowing about your own brand, you can read about how women like Taylor Swift and Michelle Obama use each part of this marketing framework in their brands. Details about each P in the framework and how the Ps come to life in different professional brands are explored in the post: “The 7 Parts of Your Professional Brand.”