Rebranding in the Fashion Industry: When Is the Right Time to Evolve?

fernando aguileta de la garza ELLE Business Fashion Rebranding
Fashion brands have to connect with current times and evolve their communication messages from “safe” to “outstanding” if they want to keep it up with younger generations. Today, we analyze rebranding in fashion brands and the latest revamps.
ELLE Education Business
TopicFashion Industry / Branding / Brand Identity

Novelty is the standard rhythm demanded by fashion. A brand, however, is a construction born to perpetuate selected values, establish its purpose over time, and remain faithful to this equation to generate credibility among its acolytes. 

It all sounds perfect until the link between brand and novelty ceases to be relevant, the worst capital crime ever, a brand cannot afford to be left behind. 

In the liturgy of fashion, where superficial changes are praised and done at the speed of light, it is wise to apply a brand reset. To be reintroduced honestly and less frivolously.  

A rebranding process implies a change in the direction of a brand’s purpose, a new focus, and a new configuration of its identity. This does not mean that we must betray ourselves, but it does bet on the need to reinvent ourselves.

Fashion brands need, on the one hand, to develop a discourse that connects with the current times, and on the other hand, to remain true to their past. Within this paradoxical tension, changes must create new ways of communication and the business approach. The brand, in this case, is transformed from within the company to project the new language outwards.  

The technical aspects of rebranding, which include brand changes such as logo, color, shapes, iconography, are crucial; the triad of identity, values, and personality must be subject to review or update. 

A brand does not have to change its attitudes radically due to the whims of time and by the sway of ephemeral aesthetic discourses, a brand is what it is, period. Although in a rebranding context, change has a dual purpose, first, to evolve without betraying itself, and second, to connect with a new generation of customers.  

Evolving a Brand: Telling a Different Story a Million Times

The evolution of a brand is driven by creativity, business decisions, and in some cases, finance-motivated factors. When a brand’s identity evolves, its image has to go hand in hand with evolution. There is no brand identity without aesthetic and graphic expression of it. 

A strong brand identity provides a myriad of ways to present a brand in a renewed light, with an image according to the target and corporate evolution plans. A rebranding means making a choice, impacting the entire value chain and the several departments of a brand. 

Brands can tell their stories in a thousand ways, enhancing and altering their attributes to refresh the storytelling. The positioning of a brand also influences its rebranding. 

It is worth asking ourselves whether it is necessary to alter the entire brand positioning or just fine-tune it. For example, if customers identify the brand with an avant-garde attribute, it would be difficult to change it to classic perception overnight. 

The decision would modify the entire proposal, from the product, the communication tone, and in some cases, the pricing. This kind of radical rebranding is difficult, however, it does not mean that it cannot be done (or has not been done in fashion), although it implies a monumental economic investment to be a success. 

A rebranding process requires time and a period of adaptation in the customer’s mind; rebranding is to renounce (a brand cannot be everything to everyone simultaneously); a rebranding has to be authentic; it is a commitment to the future development of the brand.

The (r)evolution can be done in chapters; a way to perceive when a rebranding process is coming within the fashion industry is the change of creative direction. We can find many examples inside the industry, some more fortunate than others.

When Chanel languished in 1983, the Wertheimer brothers hired designer Karl Lagerfeld to turn the brand’s pillars upside down. Under Lagerfeld’s leadership, Chanel transformed into the multi-million-dollar business that remains nowadays. His successor, Virginie Viard, working at the brand for 30 years, does not seem to want to abandon the formula. 

Businessman Diego Della Valle relaunched Elsa Schiaparelli. All it took was an outsider couture designer, a few photoshoots, and being at the right time to reconnect with the extravagance and evasion in clothing proposed by the legendary Italian designer influenced by the surrealism of the thirties. 

Daniel Roseberry is the Texan designer who after his tenure at Thom Browne, has given Schiaparelli a new air with escapist and grandiloquent dyes, is leading the creative rebranding.  

Ricardo Tisci, Burberry’s Creative Director, rebranded the revered English brand on a global scale with the help of graphic artist Peter Saville. The changes are reflected in every brand aspect, from corporate stationery, logo, the international network of stores, and advertising campaigns. 

The graphic design move sparked the fever for a logo with bold and sans serif typography, which at about the same time replicated in other fashion brands such as Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Berluti, or Balmain.

Recently, Zegna has dropped the Ermenegildo on the brand. The Italian brand has leaped the New York Stock Exchange as it looks to its past to make sense of the company’s future. With a modern image and beyond the new double-striped logo, Zegna articulates its discourse around the journey and its heritage, specifically going back to the origin, on road 232 in the mountains of northern Italy in Piedmont, where the group was founded 110 years ago. 

Each brand must decide why and when it is the right time to evolve, to look for the resources (because branding is an investment), and if it is convenient. A rebranding is a transformation process and a unique opportunity to connect with new customers, amplify the brand’s reach and update the purpose.


Originally published at: ELLE Education Business >