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A Royal rebrand to last decades

by uma
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By Marcel Hollerbach, Chief Innovation Officer, Productsup

The new cipher for King Charles is not only an image, it’s a brand that will appear across all royal content: stamps, ads, packaging and more. Unlike most other brands, a royal brand needs to stand the test of time with few, if any, changes for decades to come. In other words, getting it right at the start is a big deal.

An overlooked challenge

The adoption of King Charles’ brand has knock-on effects. Each member of the royal family now takes on a new title and role. As each royal assumes their new position, their brand needs to adapt. 

Take for example Prince William – he’s now the head of the multi-billion brand Duchy Originals, a Prince of Wales brand his father created. In 2021, it generated a turnover of £4.8m, solidifying its position as a well-known and respected organic and natural food business in the UK. With William at the helm, changes could be coming, such as which charities the business donates to, what new products it creates, and how that produce is farmed, packaged and sold. How will those new products look and feel? How will consumers discover them? Under Prince William’s leadership, this strategy could dramatically change.

When you look at how vast the UK royal family’s brand is and the breadth of content that needs to be changed, you start to understand how complex the rebranding process will be. Each royal, each brand, each website, their products and services, the channels they use to reach the public – it’s an intricate web that demands a strong and unified brand presence across all touchpoints.

Rebranding for a new generation 

There’s another key challenge for King Charles and any royal considering a rebrand – they need to build a brand for the 21st Century where innovations and consumer behaviour quickly and constantly change. In a fickle world, a strong brand is essential. But how do you create a strong royal brand to cut through to younger generations who are leaning on social media as a main source of information AND older generations who may still favour print and TV? 

Recent research revealed startling differences between how generations shop and what they expect and desire from old and new channels. For example, Gen Z shoppers are almost twice as likely to make a purchase in the metaverse compared with those aged 55+. Is the metaverse a consideration for the King? If he wants to engage the younger generations, it should be.

How about feelings towards sustainability? King Charles staunchly supports environmentally-friendly practices as a “Champion of Sustainability”. Helping generations make sustainable shopping decisions should be a key focus, but the way to do so changes per generation. For example, consumers 55+ want sustainability information to be easy to find whereas those aged 16-24 want to see an online comparison. As Prince of Wales, Charles introduced an organic sustainable food business – what will he create as King Charles II?

Appealing to the masses

You may not think of the royal family as a commerce brand, but each year it is responsible for generating millions of pounds worth of tourism for the UK. Admission tickets from heritage sites generated nearly £49.9m in 2019-2020. Keeping those numbers up requires the brand to reach new audiences in different ways.

Different generations consume media differently just as they shop differently – add different countries and regions to the mix and you have a vast audience with a multitude of expectations to be met. To reach such a wide audience, the new royal brand must be traversable across a greater variety of multimedia – from VR and AR experiences at heritage sites to modern labels and packaging on souvenirs and food. It also includes how the royal family advertises itself for tourism – how each royals’ website should look and feel, which social media platforms they should be on and how those profiles should post and interact with audiences.

While the royal brand should be timeless and rich in history, it should also evolve with modern design and approaches to distribution and engagement. The key to getting this right will be in building a brand that can flex to meet each audience segment and experimenting with different multimedia to identify which strategies receive the royal stamp of approval. 


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