Is Brand Consistency More Important than Rebranding?
PM's executive editor Kyle Richardson sent me an article about high-end design house Yves Saint Laurent's rebranding a few months ago. By the time I sat down to blog about it (less than a week later), the issue was resolved and many believed YSL was maintaining its original brand, with a few tweaks to its ready-to-wear line. Then came a slew of confusing PR moves by YSL, resulting in an email that Imran Amed quoted in a Business of Fashion article. It breaks down like this: Yves Saint Lauren is the design house. The ready-to-wear collection is Saint Laurent. The logo for the ready-to-wear line says Saint Laurent Paris. Any photographs of the line must say Saint Laurent by Hedi Slimane.
Many design houses have lines other than the high-end or couture ones. Michael Kors has Michael Michael Kors and Marc Jacobs has Marc by Marc (eponymy is quite popular). YSL's issue is that there is confusion within the design house staff. Some PR says Saint Laurent Paris, others say Saint Laurent, and that confusion has led to the defensiveness Amed describes in the article. Amed urges YSL's marketing team to get with the technological times. I agree. I also think that you as distributors and purveyors of branding should use Amed's piece as a cautionary tale. Rebranding is possible (read this if you don't agree), but it is difficult so presenting a full idea as soon as you first rebrand is important.
Mack & Manco's pizza from the Jersey shore is an example of good rebranding, though tragic to many Jersey shore devotees. Mack and Manco ended their partnership so now there are Mack's pizza joints and Manco & Manco's places as well. What they did do that YSL did not was immediately make the announcement and necessary changes. The website was updated. The signs are correct. Everyone knew before going to the shore this summer about the change. A local pizza chain or any small company is not the same as an international design house or large corporation, but presenting a consistent, unified message matters to all brands.