Following the rebranding of John Lewis & Partners, Mobas Senior Account Manager Katie discusses how the company keeps evolving in tune with what is at the heart of their brand.
You’ve probably seen in recent news that John Lewis and Waitrose have made a big step in evolving their brands, having now become John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners respectively. The launch was amplified by a TV ad campaign, which aired for the first time during The Great British Bake Off. In true adam&eveDDB style, the advert used real people singing a classic Queen anthem to deliver the message that ‘when you’re part of it, you put your heart into it’ – reinforcing the company’s partnership structure.
But what has this done for the brand and is it a good move? I actually visited a John Lewis & Partners store the day after the new brands were launched. My fiancé was buying a new laptop and so, knowing that they guarantee to price-match their competitors, we popped into the Cambridge store to check out their stock of digital gadgets. The first thing I noticed was the new square signage around the store, from the directional signage pointing to ‘Customer Services’ right down to the name badge on the young guy who served us: ‘James – Partner’. It was the latter that felt the most powerful – I’m not sure I could imagine having ‘Partner’ on my name badge when I worked in Topshop at the age of 18! But for John Lewis & Partners, it felt comfortable: it was a statement but it didn’t have a single ounce of arrogance. Rather, it left me feeling reassured.
John Lewis & Partners have always been great at evolving – rather than radically changing – their brand. As a consumer, I feel reassured by their price promise and, despite the fact that my mum and my grandma both shop there, I still feel very proud to be a customer of theirs. In a way, it even feels like a statement of my own personal status – both social and economic. If someone says they bought your Christmas present in John Lewis & Partners, you’re not going to turn your nose up – despite the fact that they will have got your present at the best price.
So how have they achieved this? From a marketing perspective, their ability to maintain a strong sense of identity, not just visually but in terms of who they are as a brand. In other words, to quote Simon Sinek, their ‘Why’ filters through every single touchpoint, which means that consumers buy into them as a brand. They’re classic but not old-fashioned; they’re accessible but not common; they’re premium but not snooty. Quite simply, they’ve nailed their brand.
At Mobas, when we discuss brand evolution with clients, sometimes we get asked, ‘Can’t you just design me a nice logo?’. But just taking a look at John Lewis & Partners shows how important it is to understand who you are as a brand before you start choosing fonts and colours. As a business, what makes you get out of bed in the morning? Is it the people? Is it the vision to make a real shift in your industry? These are the things that make a brand, well, a ‘brand’!
Image courtesty of: Pentagram