Struggling Retailers Need to Rebrand if they Want to Survive

Fashion brands are more than just their logos, and to remain relevant in today’s retail market, companies have to keep up with the times in order to attract new generations of customers.

Designers know that their companies aren’t just clothing labels — they are brands that go beyond products. Brands can be social influencers and lifestyles, not merely knit sweaters or a trendy pair of jeans. The way in which brands connect with their consumers is a sign of the brand’s belief, confidence and the strength of its point of view.

Yes, fashion brands are more than just their logos, and to remain relevant in today’s retail market, companies have to keep up with the times in order to attract new generations of customers. And to do so, some companies have to rebrand themselves and evolve their image.

Calvin Klein and Diane von Furstenberg have both recently redesigned their logos to revamp their brands and stay on trend. Logos are easily outdated over time and do need to change every so often, but they shouldn’t be altered just for the sake of change. Erich Joachimsthaler, CEO of branding firm Vivaldi Partners, told Glossy, “You don’t want to do rebranding because you don’t like the design. You want to rebrand because you have another story to tell.” Brands should evolve when a change is necessary — and declining sales and lost revenue is usually where it all begins. Then it’s out with the old and in with the new, or else it could mean said brand is just out for good.

Look at Jean Machine, Danier, and Sears; all mega-retailers in Canada who have suffered the woes of not being quick enough to adapt to mainstream shifts to attract their next generation of customers. However, one of the main reasons for the discrepancies in consumer appetite for certain clothing items is that the market is oversaturated. Fashion has never been more competitive, and with more new and exciting retailers to choose from, older companies run the possibility of falling behind if they don’t revamp and refresh their brand. It’s no longer about buyer loyalty, but more so about being in the forefront of people’s minds.

A post shared by Jean Machine (@jeanmachine) on

Branding is an essential business tool as a company’s brand image distinguishes its products and services from those of its competitors. By simply referencing a brand, images and expectations about its products are instantly brought to the minds of consumers. And although these Canadian brands listed are in the process of rebranding, it’s a challenge for them to reshape their previous image into something today’s buyers see as relevant and, once again, trendy.

That is why brands across all industries need to be strategic when considering a rebrand and think through the larger implications for what type of message rebranding sends to consumers. Consider Yves Saint Laurent for example (now Saint Laurent Paris), a world-famous brand that successfully rebranded under Creative Director Hedi Slimane and CEO Francesca Bellettini. According to European CEO, Saint Laurent has boasted double-digit year-on-year growth since 2012, making it the fastest growing major brand in the luxury fashion market all thanks to some major rebranding. Saint Laurent’s brand shift suggests there’s a new power in playing with a brand’s icon status — once fixed and rigid, but now seemingly more fluid and playful.

A post shared by Sears Canada (@sears_canada) on

Such brands have to make changes in order to be “cool” again, but for some, is it too late? In a recent article from CBC, retail analyst John Williams said, “When the ship hits an iceberg and is sinking, rearranging the menu in the dining room is not the [solution]… It’s too little, too late.”

Sometimes rebranding isn’t enough to save a retailer, yet those who try in times of financial trouble have a better chance at survival than brands who refuse to notice popular market trends. In Bellettini’s words, “A brand without clarity, at the end of the day, becomes just a commodity,” and the fashion world has enough of those already.

Featured Image: Instagram/@DanierLeather

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