Debenhams vs John Lewis Rebrand: Who did it Better?


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On the tenth day of Christmas iThinkMedia gave to me a rebrand worthy of success… Mellisa, our Senior Content Executive, takes us through two of this year’s most notable rebrands.

This year saw two of Britain’s best-known retailers rebrand in a bid to secure their future on the high street. Department stores Debenhams and John Lewis took the plunge as part of a strategic move to signify to their customers that there is a renewed sense of confidence in their brand identity.

It is apparent that both Debenhams and John Lewis have created unified brand identities to modernise their approach in response to the ever-growing shift towards online shopping. But will their redesigned strategies see them come out fighting in the next year?

‘Do a bit of Debenhams’ rebrand

In September, Debenhams unveiled a new brand identity as part of a campaign to build brand affinity and, for the first time in nearly 20 years the department store has redesigned its logo. In what Debenhams describes the new branding as a “modern and approachable twist”, the high street retailer has come back fighting. The playful campaign invites their shoppers to fall in love with the joy of shopping once more and ‘Do a bit of Debenhams’.

Do a bit of Debenhams

{Image credit: www.debenhams.com}

 Debenhams have positioned their campaign to target people who unashamedly love shopping. Opting for an unapologetically mischievous and provocative tone of voice, it seems that they are trying to restore the relationship between their shoppers and their products for a more integrated experience. With a social-first campaign plan, the department store is focusing on fully utilising digital as its go-to platform for establishing a connection with consumers.

Richard Cristofoli, Debenhams managing director of beauty and marketing, spoke exclusively to Marketing Week about the brand’s change of direction. “I’m not a believer that by just changing the logo you’ve changed your entire experience,” explained Richard. “But we’re on a very big programme of change and we felt that the way we identified and spoke to customers needed to change as well.”

John Lewis rebrands to emphasise partnership

The rebrands of John Lewis and Waitrose were also announced in September, which to some was seen as a very brave move considering they had just released a profit loss of 99% in the same month. It saw the addition of the ‘& Partners’ suffix to link the two brands and emphasise their relationship with their employees.

John Lewis rebrand

{Image credit: www.johnlewis.com}

Until recently, there was very little to link Waitrose to John Lewis, but that started to change when it became possible to get John Lewis click-and-collect items at Waitrose. This joint campaign signalled the beginning of a unified approach to their marketing strategies. It should also have a knock-on effect on their budgets and make their media and creative spend far more efficient.

 

In response to the seismic shift in high street shopping, the John Lewis Partnership (JLP) is investing up to £500 million into developing new products and services, as well as revamping their stores and websites. Marking this new business strategy with a rebrand is sensible, as it is the best way to make consumers aware of their upcoming changes. And by aligning Waitrose with John Lewis, they are ensuring that this rebrand is much more than just a cosmetic fix.

Who did it better?

Both department stores have responded to their loss of profits with a risky move, seeing them invest in huge amounts of money to try and remedy consumers’ shift from store to online. Of course, there is no guarantee that any of this will pay off. However, both Debenhams and John Lewis have shown a level resilience against their recent downfalls.

In my opinion, both brands have executed their rebrands successfully, but for different reasons. After seeing Debenhams’ plans to recapture consumers’ love of shopping connects with their target audience on a personal level. On the other hand, John Lewis’ all-inclusive campaigns reaches out to its customers and employees to be a part of something greater.

Only time will tell whether their rebrand campaigns will deliver the results that they are after. Neither campaign was necessarily more low-key than the other, but they have struck a chord with audiences everywhere. So, who knows what 2019 will bring for both department stores?

Connect with me on LinkedIn or tweet iThinkMediaUK and let me know who you think did it better. Have a very merry Christmas everyone!