Long before the pandemic hit, the shift directly to consumer was well underway as brands were forced to evolve amid changes in traditional retail. With the COVID-19 outbreak, this shift accelerated as e-commerce sales skyrocketed. To be in business, all a brand needed was a decent e-commerce platform, mediocre fulfillment, and a website. Or so they thought.
Market realities tend to reveal how vulnerable brands and online retailers can be to failure when they do not have a clear brand and a marketing strategy that extends across all contact points for the consumer shopping trip.
Here, Tony King, who founded King & Partners with Inii King in 2010 following the launch of e-commerce flagships for luxury brands such as Gucci, Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney and Yves Saint Laurent, among others, discusses the importance of refreshing a brand in today’s complex and ever-changing environment and what is required to rename a fashion company.
Headline 4 Ever: How do you know when it’s time to update your brand and site?
Tony King: Consumers are constantly changing and evolving, you need to make sure you still feel the right thing for the audience and for what you are trying to do and sell. It’s time to update a brand when we see consumers start to change, or when you launch new categories or enter new markets – these are the most appropriate times to update a brand.
Another important way to see if a brand needs an update is if the brand stands still and no longer feels ambitious. Brands need to be one step ahead of consumer behavior. As technology, social media, and the overall landscape change, brands need to adapt and remain relevant.
Headline 4 Ever: What role do changing and evolving consumer preferences play when considering a rebrand?
TL: When a brand considers a rebrand, the brand must not blindly follow trends as it evolves to suit the changing consumer needs. It still needs to feel authentic to the fire journey and the overall vision. It should feel hassle free. Brands need to consider what appeals to consumers and what they attract, but ensure that the update is authentic to them.
For example, brands are becoming increasingly diverse and inclusive. So much so that it may feel a little trendy and ingenious. When a cultural heritage label becomes inclusive, it should feel like a natural next chapter. For example, in our work with Cosabella, they have always had extensive sizes and different product types. When they decided to switch to include even more sizes and options, we had to make sure we clearly told the brand story in a way that did not feel constructed. It works for Cosabella because it is not only reflected in the marketing but also the product and has always been so to a degree.
Headline 4 Ever: Why is it important to seek “external advice” when rebranding?
TL: Most internal teams are too close to the brands they work for, and quite often brand owners put their personal preferences first.
They need someone who can see the wider landscape – those with different perspectives and who have industry knowledge. An agency is more confidential and up to date on trends and research. Brands are good at making products, but not necessarily making brands.
Headline 4 Ever: What role does the customer’s corporate culture play in a rebranding project?
TL: The corporate culture has too many layers that can ruin a brand and we have seen that happen many times. The ideas are diluted. Shortcuts are made. Concepts are not performed correctly. We want customers who are not afraid to stand by a good idea and stand up for the work and continue to push every detail by it.
We work best when we work closely together in close collaboration with owners, founders and creative directors. We work in a way that is collaborative – we value longevity and can often feel part of our customers’ brand and creative teams. We enjoy being the phone for temperature control of a new idea, we have so many clients calling us to constantly run things by us. We build trust and our customers ‘buy-in so that they are empowered and behind our ideas, and the results of our work hopefully show that we have our customers’ best interests at heart.
Headline 4 Ever: Why is it a good time to rebrand in this post-pandemic environment?
TL: It’s time for optimism. It’s time for change and new things. Consumers have evolved and their behavior has changed radically in the last 18 months. We live in an instantly more digital world. Consumers want progress and are open to it. There really is more room for brands to experiment and venture into new areas.
Headline 4 Ever: Anything else companies need to know about the rebranding process?
TL: It is fun. It is an opportunity to reinvent and transform. It is an opportunity to create a strong personality. Consumers want to see brands evolve. Change feels good for both the client and the consumer.
Good branding is more than just a logo. Good branding is more than style, moodboards and color – it’s about a change in the way a brand thinks and speaks, it’s about building a world around a specific vision from the way a salesperson greets you in the store to the thickness of hangtag and the way your box is opened when you receive a package. Every point of contact is important.