Luxury Rebranding in a Digital Age, The case of Carl F. Bucherer

Have you noticed that so many famous luxury brands, names such as Gucci, Buccellati, Saint Laurent, and Belmond have all made important shifts in their branding strategies in recent years? Have you wondered, why now?

The answer lies in a number of factors. The first one is the changing media landscape around us. Companies that once relied solely on the prophetic words of fashion editors, glossy magazine ads, and beautiful billboards, have finally had to face the facts that in today’s fast-changing digital age, doing what was done before just because “it’s always been this way,” wasn’t going to cut it anymore.

A second factor at play is a consumer shift to less conspicuous and more discreet branding. No longer can brands rely on their clients doing the advertising for them by carrying around logo-laden handbags. This is especially true for China, a major market for luxury goods. Shoppers there have become more discerning. Sales of Louis Vuitton products have taken a hit as increasingly worldly and sophisticated consumers see them as 'commoditised and overpriced'. All of these factors add up to a challenging time for brands who have relied on their past to grow their future. Remaining relevant in a digital world means evolving, and often, rebranding. Executives who have been through a rebranding know that it can be a complicated shift. With many differing opinions from different stakeholders, cultural and intellectual property constraints, short deadlines to make the magic happen, and a limit to resources available it’s, well… tough.

A recent example of a brand that has taken the reins in defining what its brand will mean now and in the future is Swiss luxury watchmaker, Carl F. Bucherer. The 128-year-old Swiss luxury watchmaker from Lucerne is probably best known for its retail conglomerate parent Bucherer. A leader in watch and jewellery sales in Western Europe, the Bucherer organisation, with its long-time experience in selling watches of all brands to eager consumers, was well attuned to develop a brand of its own.

With key long-time brand values centred on craftsmanship and heritage, the time had come for the brand to build upon its strong foundation and develop a new identity that looked to the future. The new brand positioning was launched with a celebratory unveiling of its 'distinctly golden' look and it put Lucerne, the brand’s home at the heart of Switzerland, at the centre of its communication. Sascha Moeri, CEO of Carl F. Bucherer says: “Our mission is to shape the future with respect to the brand’s distinct heritage.”

Carl F. Bucherer hired the digital strategy and marketing firm, Digital Luxury Group, to launch the new brand online. The various strategies and tactics applied made their approach interesting.

Carl F. Bucherer’s new golden branding was unveiled during Baselworld 2016, an incredibly important event bringing 150,000 media, retailer, collector, and customer visitors to Basel, Switzerland over a period of eight days to enjoy the latest products from the watch and jewellery brands. It is quite a challenge to stand out from the crowd during this key industry event, but the brand recognised that digital was a key lever at this time of year.

A completely redesigned website was unveiled at which has brought to life everything that the brand stands for. Key values centred around craftsmanship, the city of Lucerne, and the colour gold, are visualised in large, beautiful images. Not only does the site look fantastic, it has been performing well. When we compare the same time periods in 2015 and 2016 we see that site traffic has increased by 56%.

The digital communication plan focused on maximising brand visibility by capitalising on the phenomenal reach of celebrity ambassadors and fans such as international actress Li Bingbing, Chinese superstar actor Jindong, and Gogoboi, one of China’s most wellrespected fashion bloggers. Leading luxury watch Instagrammers, like WatchAnish with over 1.5 million followers, showcased the brand during Baselworld. A campaign partnership, #BringMetoBaselworld, was executed with HODINKEE, one of the most reputable online media players for watches, whereby the site’s audience of watch aficionados was invited to enter a contest to join Carl F. Bucherer in Switzerland at Baselworld. Thousands of entries were received, allowing the watchmaker to make a deeper connection with fans and prospective clients.

We will see digital playing a bigger role in rebranding strategy. Now the question is, who will be next to have a new brand reveal?


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