Branding is not just about seducing customers with a great logo, so they would choose you over your competitor. It’s about creating meaning, knowing your audience and delivering a clear message that your employees can get behind. In this episode we talk with Patrick Desrumaux, CEO of fashion brand Xandres, and branding expert Jonathan Moerkens about Xandres rebranding. We zoom in on the inside-out approach, how you can differentiate yourself from competitors and why you should always address the elephant in the room.
Discover your brand essence by soul searching
After 50 years, Xandres’ branding was in need of a little touch up. With the help of Duval Branding, CEO Patrick Desrumaux encouraged the company to look inwards. When thinking about branding we often think about external factors such as: What are our competitors doing, what do our customers want? But maybe, just maybe… There is another way. In short: you have to find out what is working for your company and not the other way around. You need to define your brand essence and that requires some soul searching.
Consider the brand essence as your company’s raison d’être. It’s the soul or DNA of a brand that can be felt wherever the brand is present. That’s why when I say Volvo, you say safe. But how do you differentiate yourself as a fashion brand, when competition is tough? It was one of the questions Xandres was struggling with. At Duval Branding one of the exercises they use to determine their brand essence is the only-ness principle. Unlike a simple branding process, it sums up your differentiator into one strong statement:
“Our brand is the only ………………..(put the name of the category) that ………………………. (put your key differentiator)”.
It’s the perfect way to tell your customers how you can make their lives easier and more beautiful.
Get your people involved
For Patrick Desrumaux it was vital to get his employees on board with this rebranding. Because who knows the company better than them? The fashion label has an incredible heritage and is to this day still a family-owned business. According to Patrick your employees help you not to overlook the heart and soul of the brand, because they are the heart and soul of your company. Your employees need to be united behind the brand message.
Your employees need to live and breathe the brand, not just pay lip service to it
Yes, you read that right. By treating them as brand assets, you have a powerful tool to discover blind spots, enhance engagement and unite your company. Your employees need to live and breathe the brand, not just pay lip service to it. Allowing them to influence the vision early on is a great way to achieve this. Remember: they can make or break a (re)branding.
Let’s address the elephant in the room.
Most brands have their own resident elephant in the room. And most of them decide to avoid that elephant at all cost, but not Xandres. They decided to say to their audience: “Hi there! Meet our elephant.”. The aim is to create a culture of transparency and deal with it now and not further down the line, when confronted with it.
So what is this elephant we’re talking about? Inclusivity. Until recently, the fashion brand had two labels: Xandres and Xandres Gold. The latter one was marketed to plus size women. Both labels were also treated as separate brands. Something their customers struggled with, which was made clear during the branding workshop with Duval Branding. But during this exercise it also quickly became clear that there should only be one brand: Xandres. Everyone is welcome, no matter what size they have. And so they decided to merge the two brands. From now on there will only be one strategy, one image, one voice. Conclusion: a huge elephant-shaped weight fell of their shoulders.
A (re)branding is a never ending story
Another important lesson Patrick has learned from this rebranding exercise? A branding or rebranding is never ending story. As a consumer, we’re hard-wired to connect with brands with more emotive buy-in. That’s why you need to review your branding on a regular basis. Your brand book should not be gathering dust on your desk. And Jonathan Moerkens agrees. Especially when it comes to fashion, because it’s a living product that’s subjected to trends.
Care to know more about branding than the typical clichés? Listen to the entire conversation with Patrick Desrumaux and Jonathan Moerkens on Spotify, Apple iTunes or on Stitcher.