Branding is of utmost importance when it comes to marketing a brand to the target markets. Branding is basically endowing the goods and services with brand equity and is all about rendering one brand different from others. Marketing professionals work on branding not just to create brand recognition, but also to create a good name (Baldwin and Davis, 2006). Today’s globally competitive business environment faces aggressive rivalry. A number of new products and services daily enter the marketplace, reach a saturation point and then become outmoded. Trends come into existence and disappear more rapidly than they appeared (Merrilees and Miller, 2008).
Numerous benefits arise if branding strategies are effectively planned and implemented. An unambiguous brand identity aids a company to successfully distinguish their products and services from that of the rivals. As brand awareness increases due to branding, the advertising costs to the company reduce. As a result of this, branding not only helps in increasing the profit margins by creation of good brand equity but also leads to fruitful brand expansions (Plewa and et.al., 2011).
In the branding world, rebranding is also a very important aspect. This refers to makings alterations in marketing aesthetics. Here the question that emerges is that should the components of a brand must be changed or only some of them should be labeled as rebranded. There is one more dimension to the term re-branding which pertains to the positioning of a brand and whether this remains the same or changes during the process of rebranding. Repositioning is regarded as a central component of the re-branding process (Kaikati and Kaikati, 2003).
The process of branding and re-branding is of significant importance for retailers of clothing. The life cycle of garments is very short as fashions keep on changing very frequently. Hence, good brands form the most powerful competitive advantage for retailers as they are strongly positioned in the minds of the customers and therefore instigate loyalty. The competition in the high end retail industry is tremendous as there are many retail houses selling homogenous products of big fashion houses (Aquino, 2011). While the other aspects and operations of a retail company can be easily copied by its rivals, one thing they cannot duplicate easily is the enduring impression in the intellects of customers from years of branding activities.
In the retail industry and typically in fashion retail industry, branding is of vital importance. In this industry, image is the brand and whether the retail branding is a liability or an asset depends upon how it is designed, developed and nurtured. The likelihood of people buying from a retail house depends on the extent to which they can associate the outlet with a positive brand (Petburikul, 2009). It should not happen that the re-branding strategies of the company are negatively affecting the brand image of any of its outlets. The customers who are brand loyal may view the alterations in the business as a backward step if they connected with the brand the business previously had. Hence, the re-branding strategies must be planned and implemented very carefully as it ultimately affects the brand image (Brand Building in the Apparel Industry, n.d).
The following dissertation sheds light onto the impact of revising branding strategies on brand image and brand concession partners of House of Fraser Oxford Street, London. Several benefits such as increase in brand appeal to the potential customers, increase in excitement about the improved business or service might accrue to the House of Fraser. On the other hand, re-branding might also bring along with it various drawbacks. All these dimensions will be discussed in this research report.
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Prior to its rebranding, the flagship store had a decent brand image in the minds of its customers. This is clearly evident by the repeat customers enjoyed by the store. In fact, many customers patronized the store because of the availability of their desired brands in the store. The store was touted to be an expensive brand though it was not placed in the upscale premium brand segment (Perrey and Spillecke, 2011). This deterred many customers as there were many upmarket brands on the Oxford Street.
People perceived that such high prices of products were uncalled for as the store did not keep exclusive designer labels (Wheeler, 2012) This was tarnishing the name of House of Fraser as its very own flagship store was not able to live up to the brand standards. Hence, it can be said that although there were patrons of the flagship store, the brand image in minds of people was not very positive and they preferred other stores over this store if they wanted to purchase designer labels (Aquino, 2011). The store had quite a traditional touch to it which was against its aim of being regarded as an upscale brand. The main mid-scale brands stocked earlier by the fashion retailer included Country Casuals and Jigsaw (English, 2010). However, it discontinued them and got some new concession brand partners such as Tonia Bastyan and Farrell by Robbie Williams.
The flagship store will be rolling out new designer labels like Lauren by Ralph Lauren, Anya Hindmarch, the White Company, Kenneth Cole and Episode. The department store chain has even created its own brand like Linea which has wide range of products in its portfolio. The store is also about to introduce a new brand Criminal which is a fashion label for men. The competition on the Oxford Street of London is intense with high fashion retail stores like Gap, John Lewis, Pull & Bear and Zara competing on every front (Burns, 2010).
As these high street brands are offering premium products to their customers, it has quite difficult to attract customers. Hence, this move to rebrand the House of Fraser flagship store at Oxford Street is aimed at stocking exclusive brands that are not available at other stores on the street. The sales figure show that the company was able to attract newer customer segments because of the new designer label and was able to perform well in a recession hit economy. Sales at the revamped store were recorded to be 8% more than the remaining stores of the chain (Perrey and Spillecke, 2011).
House of Fraser is a high end British retail store which began its operations in 1849 in Glasgow. Its present headquarters are in London. The group has about 60 outlets in and around the UK and Ireland. The store specializes in cosmetics, garments and housewares. The department store group was earlier known as Fraser & Sons. The group progressed immensely in the opening years of 20th century, nonetheless, ensuing the Second World War; plethora of acquisitions changed the company into a national chain. Over all these years, the department group has acquired many once famous changing branding strategies on brand image stores like Kendals, Howells, changing branding strategies on brand image Jenners, Dickins & Jones, Beatties and Army & Navy (House of Fraser since 1849, 2011).
House of Fraser is the third biggest traditional department store group in the UK. As per the last statistics available, there were around 4961 employees employed across all the stores of the company (Woon, 2011). The department store group has been attempted to be acquired by many other firms; however, it was the acquired by Baugur in 2006 which brought into public notice its actual ownership (House of Fraser since 1849, 2011). The current report focuses on House of Fraser flagship store in Oxford Street, London.
The House of Fraser Oxford Street has been facing the problem of identity crisis for many years now on high fashion streets of London. Hence, the management is striving towards re-creating its brand equity. It aims to display the overhauled personality of the flagship store to the market which might create a positive impact on the way in which customers perceived this store. The management is intending to transforming the business into an up market store that sells premium brands (Hill, 2009).
However, there exists some risk in this move as the company might lose some of its customers whose main reason of shopping there was presence of certain brands that are now being planned to be discontinued. There is a lurking risk of damage to the brand image that might accrue with the change in branding strategies. This organization has been chosen in particular, as it can be a very good example to work on when corporate brand revision is concerned.
The research is very important pertaining to the organization House of Fraser flagship store in Oxford Street, London as the impact of revising branding strategies can be gauged with help of this research. As the management of the company is in a situation of dilemma of the potential pros and cons for revising its branding strategy, the current research will prove to be of significant advantage in developing important insights. The research will discuss in detail about the branding theory which will cover an array of topics like definitions, corporate brand building strategies, reasons behind revision of strategies, decisions driving this revision, attitude of customers regarding this change, decision making process of buyers and the potential competitive advantage of the rejuvenated brand.
The current research will highlight the reasons and relevance behind House of Fraser’s corporate branding modification, which will enable a more comprehensive analysis of branding principles, which can result in success of branding strategies. HOF will thus be able to maintain its core brand and link its existing brand with the revitalized brand that can fruitfully target a new market segment.
This research will make a significant contribution to the academic area and will add notable insights in the existing literature on the subject matter. By describing about the impact of revising branding strategies on brand image, gaps that exist in the literature will be filled. In research done by Gobe (2010), the author mentioned this area that holds major scope for conducting research.
He said that many researchers have looked at different rebranding exercises of various companies like Burberry, Tommy Hilfiger and etc. However, none of the researchers addressed the impact rebranding exercises aimed at changing the positioning of the brand can have on the brand image of a company. These studies were mainly concentrated on logo and name changes or the drastic outcomes of one or more innovation tactic. Hence, by undertaking this research, additions will be made to inadequate literary sources.
The aim of this report is to identify the impact of the revision in its branding strategies on female clothes shoppers ’ brand image of House of Fraser, Oxford Street, London. The underlying objectives of the report are as follows:
Re-branding in the flagship store of House of Fraser is a well thought out and strategic move to win back its customers. The fashion retailer has stepped up its marketing initiatives for making the brand further high class and posh. The new ad campaigns and promotional events are aimed at reviving the brand image and positioning the brand as the finest department store chain all. The main aim behind this rebranding exercise was to make the brand high market yet accessible and get back the customer loyalty (Miller and Muir, 2005). With this revamping, the company intended to strongly focus on designer labels and do away with certain brands.
The literature review section of the report addresses the different aspects of re-branding as stated by different authors. The section provides a detailed account of the concepts of branding and rebranding. In addition to this, it also aims at identifying the main drivers behind the rebranding exercise. Potential risks as well as benefits of the undertaking this activity have also been discussed. Moreover, the key variables such as brand image, brand association and brand attitude which are usually used for the assessment of re-branding have been explained in this section. Basically the literature review will cater to the below three objectives:
• To review the literature in order to understand the common drivers behind re-branding in contexts similar to that of HOF’s Oxford Street store, and the circumstances in which such re-brandings are seen as having succeeded or failed.
• To assess the literature on the potential benefits and especially the risks associated with re-branding in contexts similar to that of HOF’s Oxford Street store.
• To use the literature in order to identify the key variables (e.g. brand image, brand identity) which are usually used in assessing re-brandings, and also how these have been measured in past research, so as to help guide the primary research.
According to Aaker (1996), branding is fundamentally a concept of marketing which has been in use since the 19th century. This concept came into being post the industrial revolution. Nonetheless, it was not until the beginning of the twentieth century that it became a requisite for companies. Clifton (2009) describes branding as a means in which organizations provide their competing products in a manner which distinguishes them from that of the rivals (Clifton, 2009). Branding can have a significant impact on the brand image of any company in the sense that good branding strategies will create a impressive position of the product and the company in the minds of the customers which will build loyal customers and vice versa. Brand image and re-branding are the two main subsets of branding. Though the main focus of the current report is on rebranding, yet it is important to understand the actual meaning of brand image (Wheeler, 2012).
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