Rebranding: A Case Study on Tiffany & Co.

A number of rebrands across all industries have graced our newsfeeds in the past few months, from high jewelry to beauty to pharmaceutical brands. A move like this can easily cost from USD$90,000 to USD$1,000,000+ depending on the size and complexity of a business, its positioning in the market, and the company’s long-term business strategy. So why would brands undertake such a mammoth task? Brand equity - the power of a name is priceless.

Author

Sarah Chen Lin

Publish

May 7, 2022

Read Time

5.4 minutes

Client

What exactly is a rebrand?

A simplified way of understanding branding is by thinking of a brand as a person. A person has a set of non-physical characteristics that make up who they are, what we refer to as brand values. For instance, a person might be optimistic, extroverted, and a nature-lover. These characteristics may manifest through the colorful clothes they wear and/or the bold statements they make about climate change. These physical expressions make them identifiable, what in branding we refer to as a brand identity (a composition of different brand elements). Brand elements can be a logo, a design motif, the color palette, the typography, the imagery style and more. Each of the elements carry a different weight for the brand. For instance, the Tiffany Blue has been and remains a vital brand element to the Tiffany & Co. brand. A rebrand is when brand elements change significantly, like putting on a new outfit or changing the color of one’s hair. Brands are allowed to be bold in breaking expectations as long as they don’t compromise their brand values.


Why rebrand?

Rebranding is a vital strategy to boost brand awareness and sales down the line, to target new consumer segments, and to adapt to changing market demands. Rebranding can also be used to cover up past blunders sometimes. We leave the ethics to your judgement.


When is it optimal?

Brands tend to rebrand on average every 5 to 10 years. This varies per industry and the size of the company. For instance, FMCG brands in general tend to rebrand faster because that particular consumer segment loves novelty. From our experience, we can attest that rebranding often takes place when there is a change in C-suite level management, which often subsequently leads to changes in company strategy. The strategies can range from streamlining product offers, restructuring sales channels, introducing new services, acquiring new companies, entering new markets or all of the above and more. A rebrand signals a new phase. Note, this practice is incredibly uncommon in the luxury industry. When it does happen, it is executed with utmost skill. Like many, the acquisition of Tiffany & Co. by the LVMH group and the change in management caught our attention. Anthony Ledru will return to helm the brand as CEO, Michael Burke as Chairman of the Board of Directors, Alexandre Arnault as the Executive VP of Product and Communications, and Ruba Abu-Nimah as the new Creative Director. This mix is interesting in that each one of them is a high-achiever hailing from incredibly successful luxury fashion and beauty houses.


How does rebranding work?

Stage 1 - The Reflection

The first step is usually conducting an in-depth assessment of the business and the brand (notice the two are separate). Together with the client, we then establish the scope of the rebrand. Sometimes it’s not a complete overhaul but more of a transition.

Stage 2 - The Creation

This is where the fun begins! We go through a series of brain-stretching workshops with key stakeholders from different departments to identify the essence that will be carried forwards and likewise be used as a means to align everyone. We dig into a treasure chest of historical documents, stories, past design sketches etc. and work closely with the client to develop the brand house, the new visual identity, and a new communications strategy.

Stage 3 - The Execution

The entire process can take up to 1 year or longer for multinational companies, sometimes even longer considering the number of brand assets that need to be produced. At Point.of we often collaborate with clients during the production process, ensuring every detail is accurate and making adjustments where necessary.

Tiffany & Co., the brand up close

What makes a brand everlasting? 5 irreplaceable ingredients: uniqueness, authenticity, consistency, innovation, and time. 

Uniqueness: A brand must stand out in terms of its offer (the business itself), values (brand values), aesthetics (visual identity), and its engagement style (marketing & communications). 

Authenticity: Just like being kind and true to ourselves is considered cool now, the same goes for brands. Tiffany & Co. has always remained authentic to its brand values: creativity, happiness, love, and strength. Despite yet another controversial campaign shot with Beyoncé and Jay Z (please refer to the comments section of @tiffanyandco), the brand has technically remained true to its values. It is simply being communicated in a different manner.

Consistency: Consistency is everything when it comes to branding. Why founder Charles Lewis Tiffany chose this specific shade of blue is unknown. All we know is that the Tiffany Blue was first introduced in 1845 as the cover color of the Tiffany Blue Book catalog and later in 1878 in the form of the Tiffany Blue Box. The founder insisted all jewelry were to be packaged in this iconic blue box, ensuring the brand would be associated with it for years to come. Towards the end of the 19th century when the brand began to expand worldwide, it continued to use the Tiffany Blue at different touch points. It's amazing to think that the founder understood consistency almost 200 years ago !

See Images: 1878 Tiffany Blue Box and Tiffany's pavilion at the 1889 Paris World's Fair (Source: Tiffany & Co. Archives )

Innovation: The most desirable brands are almost always the ones that lead the trends in their industry. Did you know Tiffany & Co. released (arguably) the first mail-order catalog in the world in 1845, changing the way consumers purchase? The blue shade here would change over the years until ~1966 when the company settled on a color closer to the Tiffany Blue known today. Nevertheless, the brand was truly the first to claim this shade. NOTE: There are various other innovative achievements we will not cover but that still remain admirable.


Time: Depending on how well a company manages the above 4 ingredients, time can either break or strengthen a brand. The same can be said for famous brands in other industries. For instance, what brand do you think of if we say "a yellow shell" or “golden arches”? Exactly :)

Our Point.of View

Insiders shared that the brand plans to revamp its flagship stores worldwide, focus on its gemstones and gold categories, and refresh its image to capture Gen Z - the new cool kids. The flamboyant yellow that was released on April Fool’s day, the yellow-themed pop-up in Los Angeles, and the Not your mother’s Tiffany campaign were likely a mere communications exercise to turn the brand into more of a lifestyle, as Alexandre Arnault has famously done with Rimowa. A full-on rebrand is unlikely and here is why.

See Images: Tiffany Los Angeles 2021 pop-up (Source: ELLE Hong Kong)

The last time the Tiffany & Co. brand was updated was in 2003 with the help of agency Pentagram. The logo was redrawn via a hand-drawing technique and then downsized by 40% on the packaging to help the Tiffany Blue stand out even more. Constantly refining brand elements in subtle ways is common practice. What also became common was a roster of luxury brands redesigning their logos with sans serif fonts to adapt to the digital landscape (see below), so much so that they all look similar. It is unlikely Tiffany & Co. will go towards this direction and it is worth noting that its current logo trademarks remain active.

See Image: Sans serif evolution of luxury logos (Source: Velvetshark)

This year, we’re noticing the brand photography evolve and move away from its traditionally wholesome image by leveraging edgier brand ambassadors who are at the top of their game in their respective fields: Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Tracee Ellis Ross, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Eileen Gu. Not only is this “shock effect'' signature to LVMH’s marketing playbook but these are clear signs of brand elements evolving. Brand elements can change but never brand values, an unspoken rule in branding. The name of the brand and its essence carry more weight compared to everything else. In this sense, the Tiffany Blue and the brand’s imagery can indeed be changed though we think it’s more likely new colors will be introduced instead further down the rollout.

See Images: Tiffany & Co. Facebook page (Source: Tiffany & Co.)

As a point of reference, it is also worth noting that trademarks last for 10 years in the United States and must be renewed to remain active. The Tiffany Blue trademark was last renewed in 2015 and the Tiffany Blue Box in 2020. No new trademarks under TIFFANY (NJ) LLC have been filed as of this blog’s publishing date. Furthermore, Tiffany & Co. has 30 flagship stores globally according to its annual report. 2025 is just around the corner and renovating a single luxury flagship takes two years on average, costing USD$3,000,000 to USD$5,000,000. Should a full-on rebrand take place, it is unlikely all 30 flagships will be renovated but the possibility still remains for the most beloved stores. The New York flagship is already undergoing renovations and is expected to open its doors during spring of 2022. We can’t help but wonder! As for the blue boxes, it’s unlikely the brand will suddenly offload such a valuable brand asset considering all the sunk investments. LVMH may have deep pockets but they’re still financially strategic.

The most skillful rebrands are well maneuvered transitions and not sudden overhauls. This way the brand ensures its core customers are retained while acquiring new ones. Tiffany & Co. seems to be playing a different game with its communications, but it’s unlikely the brand identity as a whole will change once the dust settles.

Rebranding: A Case Study on Tiffany & Co.

A number of rebrands across all industries have graced our newsfeeds in the past few months, from high jewelry to beauty to pharmaceutical brands. A move like this can easily cost from USD$90,000 to USD$1,000,000+ depending on the size and complexity of a business, its positioning in the market, and the company’s long-term business strategy. So why would brands undertake such a mammoth task? Brand equity - the power of a name is priceless.

Author

Sarah Chen Lin

Publish

May 7, 2022

Read Time

5.4 minutes

Client

What exactly is a rebrand?

A simplified way of understanding branding is by thinking of a brand as a person. A person has a set of non-physical characteristics that make up who they are, what we refer to as brand values. For instance, a person might be optimistic, extroverted, and a nature-lover. These characteristics may manifest through the colorful clothes they wear and/or the bold statements they make about climate change. These physical expressions make them identifiable, what in branding we refer to as a brand identity (a composition of different brand elements). Brand elements can be a logo, a design motif, the color palette, the typography, the imagery style and more. Each of the elements carry a different weight for the brand. For instance, the Tiffany Blue has been and remains a vital brand element to the Tiffany & Co. brand. A rebrand is when brand elements change significantly, like putting on a new outfit or changing the color of one’s hair. Brands are allowed to be bold in breaking expectations as long as they don’t compromise their brand values.


Why rebrand?

Rebranding is a vital strategy to boost brand awareness and sales down the line, to target new consumer segments, and to adapt to changing market demands. Rebranding can also be used to cover up past blunders sometimes. We leave the ethics to your judgement.


When is it optimal?

Brands tend to rebrand on average every 5 to 10 years. This varies per industry and the size of the company. For instance, FMCG brands in general tend to rebrand faster because that particular consumer segment loves novelty. From our experience, we can attest that rebranding often takes place when there is a change in C-suite level management, which often subsequently leads to changes in company strategy. The strategies can range from streamlining product offers, restructuring sales channels, introducing new services, acquiring new companies, entering new markets or all of the above and more. A rebrand signals a new phase. Note, this practice is incredibly uncommon in the luxury industry. When it does happen, it is executed with utmost skill. Like many, the acquisition of Tiffany & Co. by the LVMH group and the change in management caught our attention. Anthony Ledru will return to helm the brand as CEO, Michael Burke as Chairman of the Board of Directors, Alexandre Arnault as the Executive VP of Product and Communications, and Ruba Abu-Nimah as the new Creative Director. This mix is interesting in that each one of them is a high-achiever hailing from incredibly successful luxury fashion and beauty houses.


How does rebranding work?

Stage 1 - The Reflection

The first step is usually conducting an in-depth assessment of the business and the brand (notice the two are separate). Together with the client, we then establish the scope of the rebrand. Sometimes it’s not a complete overhaul but more of a transition.

Stage 2 - The Creation

This is where the fun begins! We go through a series of brain-stretching workshops with key stakeholders from different departments to identify the essence that will be carried forwards and likewise be used as a means to align everyone. We dig into a treasure chest of historical documents, stories, past design sketches etc. and work closely with the client to develop the brand house, the new visual identity, and a new communications strategy.

Stage 3 - The Execution

The entire process can take up to 1 year or longer for multinational companies, sometimes even longer considering the number of brand assets that need to be produced. At Point.of we often collaborate with clients during the production process, ensuring every detail is accurate and making adjustments where necessary.

Tiffany & Co., the brand up close

What makes a brand everlasting? 5 irreplaceable ingredients: uniqueness, authenticity, consistency, innovation, and time. 

Uniqueness: A brand must stand out in terms of its offer (the business itself), values (brand values), aesthetics (visual identity), and its engagement style (marketing & communications). 

Authenticity: Just like being kind and true to ourselves is considered cool now, the same goes for brands. Tiffany & Co. has always remained authentic to its brand values: creativity, happiness, love, and strength. Despite yet another controversial campaign shot with Beyoncé and Jay Z (please refer to the comments section of @tiffanyandco), the brand has technically remained true to its values. It is simply being communicated in a different manner.

Consistency: Consistency is everything when it comes to branding. Why founder Charles Lewis Tiffany chose this specific shade of blue is unknown. All we know is that the Tiffany Blue was first introduced in 1845 as the cover color of the Tiffany Blue Book catalog and later in 1878 in the form of the Tiffany Blue Box. The founder insisted all jewelry were to be packaged in this iconic blue box, ensuring the brand would be associated with it for years to come. Towards the end of the 19th century when the brand began to expand worldwide, it continued to use the Tiffany Blue at different touch points. It's amazing to think that the founder understood consistency almost 200 years ago !

See Images: 1878 Tiffany Blue Box and Tiffany's pavilion at the 1889 Paris World's Fair (Source: Tiffany & Co. Archives )

Innovation: The most desirable brands are almost always the ones that lead the trends in their industry. Did you know Tiffany & Co. released (arguably) the first mail-order catalog in the world in 1845, changing the way consumers purchase? The blue shade here would change over the years until ~1966 when the company settled on a color closer to the Tiffany Blue known today. Nevertheless, the brand was truly the first to claim this shade. NOTE: There are various other innovative achievements we will not cover but that still remain admirable.


Time: Depending on how well a company manages the above 4 ingredients, time can either break or strengthen a brand. The same can be said for famous brands in other industries. For instance, what brand do you think of if we say "a yellow shell" or “golden arches”? Exactly :)

Our Point.of View

Insiders shared that the brand plans to revamp its flagship stores worldwide, focus on its gemstones and gold categories, and refresh its image to capture Gen Z - the new cool kids. The flamboyant yellow that was released on April Fool’s day, the yellow-themed pop-up in Los Angeles, and the Not your mother’s Tiffany campaign were likely a mere communications exercise to turn the brand into more of a lifestyle, as Alexandre Arnault has famously done with Rimowa. A full-on rebrand is unlikely and here is why.

See Images: Tiffany Los Angeles 2021 pop-up (Source: ELLE Hong Kong)

The last time the Tiffany & Co. brand was updated was in 2003 with the help of agency Pentagram. The logo was redrawn via a hand-drawing technique and then downsized by 40% on the packaging to help the Tiffany Blue stand out even more. Constantly refining brand elements in subtle ways is common practice. What also became common was a roster of luxury brands redesigning their logos with sans serif fonts to adapt to the digital landscape (see below), so much so that they all look similar. It is unlikely Tiffany & Co. will go towards this direction and it is worth noting that its current logo trademarks remain active.

See Image: Sans serif evolution of luxury logos (Source: Velvetshark)

This year, we’re noticing the brand photography evolve and move away from its traditionally wholesome image by leveraging edgier brand ambassadors who are at the top of their game in their respective fields: Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Tracee Ellis Ross, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Eileen Gu. Not only is this “shock effect'' signature to LVMH’s marketing playbook but these are clear signs of brand elements evolving. Brand elements can change but never brand values, an unspoken rule in branding. The name of the brand and its essence carry more weight compared to everything else. In this sense, the Tiffany Blue and the brand’s imagery can indeed be changed though we think it’s more likely new colors will be introduced instead further down the rollout.

See Images: Tiffany & Co. Facebook page (Source: Tiffany & Co.)

As a point of reference, it is also worth noting that trademarks last for 10 years in the United States and must be renewed to remain active. The Tiffany Blue trademark was last renewed in 2015 and the Tiffany Blue Box in 2020. No new trademarks under TIFFANY (NJ) LLC have been filed as of this blog’s publishing date. Furthermore, Tiffany & Co. has 30 flagship stores globally according to its annual report. 2025 is just around the corner and renovating a single luxury flagship takes two years on average, costing USD$3,000,000 to USD$5,000,000. Should a full-on rebrand take place, it is unlikely all 30 flagships will be renovated but the possibility still remains for the most beloved stores. The New York flagship is already undergoing renovations and is expected to open its doors during spring of 2022. We can’t help but wonder! As for the blue boxes, it’s unlikely the brand will suddenly offload such a valuable brand asset considering all the sunk investments. LVMH may have deep pockets but they’re still financially strategic.

The most skillful rebrands are well maneuvered transitions and not sudden overhauls. This way the brand ensures its core customers are retained while acquiring new ones. Tiffany & Co. seems to be playing a different game with its communications, but it’s unlikely the brand identity as a whole will change once the dust settles.