Q: If Kim Kardashian plans to take Kanye West’s last name after marriage and go by Kim Kardashian West, how much could that change cost her, in marketing and brand value, and even Internet searches?
A: Kim Kardashian is rich. She's also famous. Put those two elements together and you get a person who automatically pays less — or nothing — for stuff that you and I have to shell out for daily: travel, clothes, makeup, diamond engagement rings, food.
According to marketing and SEO experts, that principle will likely extend to Kardashian's — sorry, Kardashian West's — online dominion and probably even her fashion and perfume empires, unless she makes one or two incredibly stupid decisions.
First, let's start with Kardashian'd online presence — her Facebook and Twitter feeds, her blog, her booty-tastic Instagram feed. Some enterprising camper has already squatted on KimKardashianWest.com, so if the future Mrs. West is serious about making this name change super-official, she may have to shell out some lettuce for that. Cybersquatters can score six-figure payouts to hand over domains. (Unless she's the one camping ... always a possibility.)
But that’s about the biggest cost she'll face, according to Lisa Jenkins, who handles online marketing, search engine consulting, and social media strategies for celebrities.
"Changing most of her online properties really won't cost her anything except a few more hours of work for people who probably already work for her anyway," Jenkins explains. For example, Twitter handles can be changed in seconds at no cost. And services that are infamous for being tougher in that regard *COUGH*FACEBOOK*COUGH* are known to give celebrities special consideration.
"These types of celebrities usually have big enough teams that, if they were really savvy, might have reached out to Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and made sure that Kim’s new name was available just in case she wanted to change it," Jenkins speculates.
And most of those services take great care to cater to celebrities.
"I can see them telling Kim's team, 'Why don’t we just reserve that name for you?'"
In fact, by adding a word to her last name and taking nothing away, Kardashian may be gaining more than she’s losing, at least, in the worlds of PR and social media influence.
"In essence, she has incrementally added to her presence because now she has a greater variety of search terms that apply to her," Jenkins says.
[RELATED: Inside Kanye's 9-Year Courtship of Kim]
The name game aside, there's evidence marriage might be big business for Kim. According to Forbes, she made $10 million in the past year — hardly a pauper's sum, but about as half as much as she was banking from her oh-so-brief tenure as Mrs. Kris Humphries. The magazine attributes the bigger earnings in 2011-12 to her bridal status.
She'll also keep making about $80,000 per episode of E!'s "Keeping Up With the Kardashians," which has been renewed through 2015, regardless of whether she's a Kardashian or a Kardashian West.
The only place where Kim's name change may cause some financial damage is in the world of endorsements or physical products. It's not clear whether Kardashian plans to change the labeling on her perfumes, for example — repeated requests to her publicist were ignored — but such a decision would cost the reality star millions in unnecessary spending.
It would be a silly move, and I'd be surprised if Kardashian decided to make that expenditure in the name of love.
"Besides," Jenkins points out, "all of this may be moot. So many times, a celebrity will change her name, and just when people are starting to use that new name, she's divorced."
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