The Re-branding Academy

As you may have noticed on your commute this morning, schools are back and so is the traffic. September brings new classes and students in a rainbow of uniforms….and this term there seems to be a new school in session; The Re-Branding Academy. John Lewis & Waitrose, Harvey Nichols and Debenhams have all enrolled this past few weeks….working hard in the hope of getting an A*.

John Lewis are sharing their desk with their partner Waitrose as they strive to demonstrate their unity and values. They came prepared and before school even began they took a long hard look in the mirror and considered what makes them them. They noticed that when customers come to a store they are looking for an experience, an atmosphere and most importantly they come looking for staff that care. All of these elements were brought to life in their ad and when you step into Waitrose or John Lewis you do see that ‘when you’re part of it you put your heart into it’.

Well, they are certainly putting their hearts into their project and that is why they receive an A*.

Debenhams, who has been on the waiting list for The Re-Branding Academy for the past 20 years, is also in this year’s class. So now they are in, how are they shaping up? Sadly, their initial work gets a ‘Must try harder’…..You can’t just ‘Do a bit’ Ms Debenhams. You have to do a lot to succeed in this school – more than ever, if you want to keep up.

Their new print ads may have that clean, glossy feel to them with their bright colors and simple style… but posters won’t cover over the cracks. Customers need a reason beyond product to enter a store…..but with Debs, too often they walk into a deserted store with no staff and closed off changing rooms. If there’s no experience, I may as well just shop online. It raises the question also of why did Debenhams apply to this academy? Maybe they have pushy parents that demand results but offer no guidance. Either way, for their shallow effort, they get a D. And that’s us being generous.

And so onto young Harvey Nichols. Now here’s a candidate with even less reason to study at The Re-Branding Academy. Their contribution comes as part of their ‘let’s hear it for the girls’ campaign. But who is this ‘Holly Nichols’, that name was not on the register.

Holly is no one. She has been used as the umbrella name to represent all women simply because her name is the closest to Harvey that they could think of (surely Harriet is closer). If the company hadn’t been formed by Anne Harvey when her husband died this wouldn’t be such an issue, but the fact the company want to show support for women then fail to use their own co-founders name in the campaign is a major shot in the foot.

We sadly conclude that Harvey Nichols must have cheated on their entrance exam because they do not belong at The Re-Branding Academy at all based on this project. For that, they get a big fat U.

For now this short September term over, John Lewis and Waitrose skipping out with their A*, Debenhams on the phone hiring KPMG as a tutor and Harvey Nichols left wondering if they should have done more revision.

Oh well, they can all relax now… that is until Christmas!

By Georgina Dalgliesh