HUGO. Rapper Big Matthew
Hundred-year-old German luxury company, Hugo Boss this year ushered in an entirely new era for BOSS and HUGO. It has delineated itself into two distinct brands, Boss and Hugo, complete with new logos as part of its ambitious growth plan 2025 goal.
In other news, WPP’s Mindshare that was set up in 1997 splits 'mind' and 'share' as part of brand refresh. Mindshare has rebranded its corporate identity, which it believes will better represent its "accelerated good growth" brand positioning.
This leaves us with one question – ‘Is it really a good idea to split your brand name?’
As a brand, you have to constantly reinvent yourself to stay relevant to customers and splitting of a brandlets consumers have different expectations of both brands.Rebranding is a costly and risky affair as there is no guarantee that purchasers would see the new brand in the same light as the old one, but it is better to do it in a timely manner than later.
For this reason, it becomes crucial that the brand owners are well acquainted with the pros and cons involved in this exercise, and we have accordingly provided a snapshot in this article.
It becomes extremely critical for brands to undertake the cost of a brand awareness exercise. For instance, when Binaca rebranded to Cibaca, the alignment of the number of alphabets and the style of writing of the brand continued to remain the same during the transition. This allowed customer association, recall and earlier goodwill to continue with the new brand.
Similarly, in the ‘BOSS’ ‘HUGO’ splitting, the brand has launched #HowDoYouHUGOand #BeYourOwnBoss campaigns to make their consumers comfortable with the transition.
BOSS. Model Hailey Bieber
Rights in the earlier brand
It is also possible for some customers to believe that the narrative and focus of the company itself has changed due to the rebranding and inclusion of new products / services. There might also be a perception that the owner may not enforce rights in the earlier brand assuming the interest has diminished.
It becomes critical for the brand to continue its enforcement activities in such a situation even for the earlier brand. A smart third party may be inclined to file non-use cancellation actions against the earlier brand if they believethat the owner’s interest in the earlier brand has waned and simply due to the sheer recall value of the brand.
A brand owner must also be mindful of the fact that the brand when separated must be strong enough to create an identity of its own and not be diluted amongst the previous third parties in play. It would be interesting to see how exclusive rights over ‘Boss’ are established and action is taken against third parties perhaps already using the post-split brand name.
Resonate with your customers
When alongside the rebranding, new technology and product and / service offerings are in play and the rebranding is done under a new avatar and a new energy like in the case of Facebook to Meta, informing the public of the purpose of rebranding is critical.
The new brand name and rebranding should resonate with your customers and must be seen as a replacement and not an alternative.The problem arises when the customer is exposed to the new brand and it leads to confusion.
Therefore, the process and plan of rebranding must be able to manage the goodwill continuity and the changeover must be such that the continuity is maintained. It becomes imperative that the brand value is duly retained in the process of rebranding.
The best way forward
When an existing brand is split, the owner needs to realise that they are moving from a zone of certainty to a zone of uncertainty, especially if the brand is global. The owner’s initial actions to address infringement and establish a reputation must not be compromised. In that sense, rebranding can also be a paradox as the brand has to reinvest in new actions and establishing reputation.
Post-split names must be adequately protected by way of registrations and to maintain confidentiality, trade mark filings can be done in the name of an independent company, with the option to assign it in the future.
Hence, one must clearly evaluate the reasons for splitting or re-branding to ascertain if it truly makes sense and resonates with the core of the brand. Consequently, it seems only prudent to have a comprehensive rebranding strategy along with the help of experienced brand strategists.
(Safir Anand, Senior Partner, Anand & Anand is a much-awarded IPR lawyer. On the board of platforms such as FDCI, JLF and Royal Fables, he and his firm handle the IPR mandate for over 10000 brands, industries or entities – Chanel, Christian Louboutin, Hermes, Giorgio Armani, Audrey Hepburn, Escorts India, Future Group Raj Kapoor, Manish Malhotra, Shivvan & Naresh being some of them.)
(This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Specific legal advice should be obtained in every case. Anand and Anand, and its staff, affiliates etc., does not accept any responsibility and/or liability in case of any loss, however caused, based on any content in this article.)
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It’s an exciting time for brands all over the world. With change comes opportunity. With the global ‘reset’ and uncertainty on many fronts, there is a chance to write a new script. Let’s be those pioneers.
A bit about me:
A luxury and fashion journalist with 25 years of experience in publishing and magazine journalism, I have edited some of India’s top fashion and luxury magazines. I got my BA in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley, and went on to receive my Master’s in English and French from the University of Strasbourg, France. I have also studied German and Film. I live in Gurugram, India, and look forward to once again exploring our world with a new-found freedom.
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