• Maite Aramayo

Balmain changed its logo. Will rebranding still be a trend in 2019?

Image: Balmain

2018 has been the year of changes in fashion. We have watched giant luxury brands turn to streetwear for innovation and attract new target customers more aggressively than before, we’ve seen an increase in collaborations between fast fashion and luxury brands like H&M and Moschino, between streetwear designers and historical luxury brands like Virgil Abloh being appointed for Louis Vuitton and lastly, we’ve seen rebranding become a trend in the industry.

It was recently posted all over social media that Balmain, the Parisian fashion house, just changed its logo for the first time in 70 years of its history. According to a Vogue interview to Olivier Rousteing, the creative director of Balmain since 2011, the new logo represents the “definition of a personal moment”, “it’s something really emotional; it’s finally the beginning of a new era”. So, according to Rousteing, the change of a logo can signify a new beginning for a luxury brand, but does that mean the brand will start following what other luxury brands like Burberry or Celine are currently doing?

First of all, let’s start talking about why logos are important in fashion. One thing that makes fashion brands differentiate themselves from the rest of the corporate brands belonging to other industries is that in fashion, logos speak for the brands themselves. Fashion doesn’t need slogans or a pitch speech to attract consumers towards them. Sure, every company belonging to the fashion industry needs a strategic plan to market itself in these tough competitive times, but when it comes to consumer engagement, for a fashion brand sometimes it only takes a slight change of image to grab the attention of everyone. When it comes to what a logo represents for a consumer, luxury brands do not longer represent a status symbol, and just like the chief executive of Balenciaga Cédric Charbit said, "logos of luxury brands give you the sense of belonging to a community and that you share the values of the brand". So evidently, if the logo changes, we can expect the values of a brand to change as well.

Image: Balmain (before and after)

During this year, we’ve seen two very relevant makeover cases on important luxury fashion brands. The first one was on Burberry, which introduced a brand new monogram and logo around the beginning of August. The purpose of this change was to target a new customer to the brand, as well as to trigger a brand new sentiment to the loyal customers. As such, the makeover came along with some changes such as a higher involvement of the brand in social media, the introduction of 24 hour-limited-edition lines and the shock that Burberry was yet, another brand also willing to dive into the world of streetwear. The second one was on Céline, which turned into Celine after the appointment of Hedi Slimane, the new creative director. What happened after that was that the whole image of the brand was changed by completely starting over and erasing Phoebe Philo’s legacy and adjusting it to Hedi Slimane’s creative mind and values. Both luxury brands created impressively high levels of engagement and an overall disruption in the industry. Moreover, we can also argue that the biggest reason behind the logo makeover was just so the two new creative directors of Burberry and Celine could make a statement; “someone new is taking over so let’s trigger an audience”.

Going back to the case of Balmain, in this case, Rousteing is here to stay so there has to be a bigger reason why the logo was changed all of a sudden. We all know that Olivier Rousteing is one of the most famous and followed fashion designers on social media. He’s known for his influence online and for his close relationship with acclaimed celebrities such as the Kardashians, so from a social media management point of view, it’s evident that he has the power of creating fast consumer engagement without any hustle. It was said that Balmain needed to refresh its own image, which makes sense considering that the brand will re-launch Haute Couture next season (this hasn’t been done since 2002) and that it will begin stressing its production of accessories such as bags and belts. Truth is, Balmain has been one of the few in the industry to have an ongoing unstoppable growth in profit for the past few years, and although the brand is still not at the level of billion-dollar-profits Louis Vuitton or Gucci, it has the potential to become an acclaimed global brand in the future. While some brands like Burberry are looking into the future by focusing on current trends such as streetwear and attracting more target customers online and offline with a gigantic presence even on the streets, Balmain is focusing on stressing the importance of haute couture and quality craftsmanship, and starting to take a more global approach to their already loyal and potential customers. We can surely expect that we will be hearing more about Balmain than before in 2019.

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