Vanity Fair

Part I: What is Your Personal Identity? 你的品牌風格是什麼?

Recently a TV advertising attracts my eyes for its strong attitude and the message- say NO to ordinary.  Literally, I couldn’t move my eyes away while it’s on, and was so eager to find out what brand behind this ad is.

最近有個電視廣告很吸引我. 它傳遞了一種強烈的自主態度, 鼓勵向平凡說不. 第一次在電視上看到這廣告時, 我完全移不開我的眼光, 並急切想知道金主到底是哪個品牌.

However, I got totally astonished- and perhaps felt a bit deceived- after realizing the brand who owns the ad. The mood is more or less like when one expects so much with romantic hope to meet her dreaming cute long-time cyber friend who has been writing her many beautiful poems. At the end, she finds out it’s a  granpa behind the work!

But why do I feel this way?

I mean, it is no doubt that this advertising is very well executed. It illustrates an enticing attitude to encourage all to embrace the good experience and choices in life- through the slogan “spending it well”- and say no to ordinary. The brand behind this ad- Marks & Spencer- is also decent, well trusted and liked for its good product quality under accessible price, and the reputable service.

The issue is, the personality that I perceived from the ad does not really connect with Marks & Spencer in my impression at all!

To avoid having missed some market updates, I googled the recent news about Marks & Spencer and visited its Central store in Hong Kong. From the news, it says that the brand launches a new brand slogan “Spend It Well” and expect to revive its business through a series of dynamic marketing campaign.

However, when I visited its Central store, only the food area links me to the message in the ad (no ordinary, spend it well!) for its current clear focus on “Authentic Italian Experience”, the positioning on 100% fairtrade coffee, gluten-free wheat range, and the well-organized display. The rest categories in the store- clothes, accessories, home..etc- remains ordinary,  trying-to-be-fashionable yet a bit banal and not energetic at all.

但最後發現廣告背後的品牌是誰時, 我超級的驚訝, 甚至有一點被欺騙的小失落感. 這種心情就像是一個女孩滿懷期待及幻想, 和心中暗戀多時的網友見面時, 卻發現來者竟是個花甲之年的阿公那般夢碎.


畢竟不可置疑的, 這廣告確實拍得非常好. 它傳遞一種很吸引人的態度, 鼓勵每個人去追求生命中美好的經驗, 選擇最好的事物, 向平凡說不. 而廣告背後的品牌Marks & Spencer, 也是一個富有聲譽, 值得信賴, 以合理價錢提供中上品質以及良好服務的英國百貨.

對我來說, 問題在於, 廣告中吸引我的這種態度, 完全和我印象中的Marks & Spencer無法連接.

為了確認自己不是以偏概全, 我上網查了Marks & Spencer最近的動態. 這系列廣告的緣起 確實是因為Marks & Spencer為了搶救下滑的業績, 想要重新強化品牌形象, 吸引更多消費者而投資的行銷活動. 我也造訪了它香港中環的旗艦店. 坦白說, 店裡美食區的確讓我產生廣告中”選擇最好, 向平凡說不”的共鳴. 在店外視窗和外牆強烈訊息的引導下, 進店之前, 我已期待要發掘正宗義大利美食. 進入美食區前, 有個圓形的木檯擺滿了各形各色的通心粉, 視覺上的饗宴已經讓我的經驗加分. 之後再進入美食區, 見到一櫃櫃聲稱100% 公平交易的咖啡, 無麩質的麥製品, 以及整潔有序的陳列, 整體的感官經驗又被提升不少. 但走出美食區, 其他販賣衣服, 飾品, 內衣, 家飾品的樓面, 就顯得黯然失色. 看得出品牌設計師想加點流行的元素, 但整體給我的感覺, 也只有普通, 有點無聊, 沒啥特色和活力.

It quickly triggers me with a thought: everyone wants to look cool, both brands and individuals. That’s why companies invest on marketing and slogan to promote attractive brand value, while individuals chase after fashion to create a certain image we expect others to perceive. However, lots of time, people forget the most fundamental step before all these efforts is to recognize and identify who you are.

The identity means brand DNA for companies. To individuals, it means what life has given to you- the good, the bad, the ugly and everything. That’s where the style should be built on top. To make the statement works, meanwhile, it also has to come as a package- not just a slogan, an ad, or changing one’s hairstyle, makeup and outfits!

If I were Marks & Spencer, to facilitate this marketing investment, I would take two actions. First, rather than strongly claiming “say NO to ordinary,” I would emphasize “being true to yourself” on the TV ad instead. Admit that being ordinary people is OK (say NO to being pretentious, say NO to seeking for mainstream success, say NO to chase something fashionable yet uncomfortable…etc), but we should always insist choosing things with good quality to pamper ourselves. Ordinary may seems unattractive. To me, however, it can be interpreted to be down-to-ground, friendly, essential and classy too. This authentic approach could connect with more people in my opinion.

Second, if Marks & Spencer insists presenting a “cool” attitude on the ad, it also needs to implement this attitude to all business aspects consistently- from the store design, product offer, visual merchandising and the grooming & service of the store staffs. Nowadays the rising of online shopping makes it even more important for brick-and-mortal stores to create THE EXPERIENCE for customers, which translates into an impression and belief. To build this new identity, nevertheless, it takes time and will only succeed if the company can persist.

這個經驗讓我反思, 其實不管是品牌或個人, 大家都想要自己看起來酷. 那就是為何這麼多品牌不惜花重金打造口號, 利用行銷試圖創造吸引人的品牌形象. 而很多人也不斷追著流行的腳步, 購買流行單品, 想把自己打造成某種形象. 然而, 很多時候, 當品牌或個人在這麼做之前, 往往忘了先思考, 自己的品牌定位或風格都底是什麼.

品牌定位和品牌創建之初的歷史, 品牌的個性, 想傳達的故事和態度習習相關. 在個人的層面上, 風格得追溯至真實天生的條件, 不管是優點, 缺點, 好或壞都是重要的元素. 唯有從此根基出發, 才能打造出最適合, 最獨一無二, 最引人入勝的形象. 但是, 在此同時, 打造形象要深植人心, 必須是全方位的. 它並不會因為一句口號, 一系列廣告, 或者換個髮型, 化妝, 或靠衣服或飾品就能一蹴可及.

如果我是Marks & Spencer, 在執行這系列品牌廣告時, 我會考慮兩種做法. 第一就是, 與其用一種反叛的基調鼓勵世人向平凡說不 ,我會用一種溫暖的語調叫人忠於自我, 承認生來條件平凡也無所謂, 不需要假掰 ,不需要汲汲營營於主流所謂的成功, 不需要盲目追求讓自己渾身不自在的流行, 但一定要堅持選擇好品質來寵愛自己. 我明白平凡這個字聽來或許不怎麼悅耳, 但它同時可以被詮釋為腳踏實地, 友善, 經典, 簡單. 對我來說, 這是更貼近Marks & Spencer品牌定位. 真誠一點, 反而會吸引更多人的認同, 不是嗎?

或者, 如果Marks & Spencer想轉型走酷一點的路線, 那麼, 品牌就必須全方位的朝這個方向去調整.  從店面的設計(傢俱 燈光 動線等等), 產品設計, 視覺陳列, 甚至店員的制服及服務都必須被全盤調整. 特別現在網路購物的興起, 許多消費者到店裡消費, 尋求的已不僅僅是商品, 還渴望得到特別的經驗, 這會決定他們對一個品牌的印象和喜愛度. 如果決定大幅改變品牌定位, 就必須長期抗戰, 一路堅持, 品牌既要有錢 ,也要有耐心, 才能有撥得雲開見月明的一天.

EXPERIENCE matters more and more to customers in offline stores

Pedder on Scotts Singapore

Under the strong competition, it is not easy for brands to be always faithful to its brand DNA in business executions. Changing a designer or an overwhelming  fashion trend may easily seduce brands to distract from its original positioning for commercial concern. Louis Vuitton being one of the few best practices to me in this topic. Had worked in this brand for few years, I witness how it values and insists the perfect business implementation all around its core value “Travel & Craftsmanship”:  from product offer (almost all bags with stories linked with this core value), collection development (in my time, there was always a April-May capsule across all product categories with the theme around traveling.) store design, advertising (there’s a series of core value ad, which is viewed more or equally important as seasonal product ads!) and events. The outlook of the collections may vary by seasons and the change of designers, yet the story from the brand is kept the same anywhere and anytime. That becomes the formula to be sustainable for a brand.

在市場競爭激烈之下, 要品牌一路堅持自己最初的定位並不容易.很多時候, 換了個設計師, 或網路潮人瘋狂吹捧某一種流行元素時, 為了要業績, 不少品牌就變節了. 在我的觀察下, 路易威登算是少數幾個能貫徹此方向的模範. 我曾在此品牌工作過幾年, 因而能見識到公司如何堅持在每一季的產品設計, 以及品牌經營上堅守”旅行及無懈可擊的工藝”這個定位. 比方說, 產品線中的經典手袋設計靈感, 背後都會有個和旅行有淵源的故事. 在我那年代, 每年四五月總會上市一套以旅行為主題的全系列商品. 而一系列邀請名人, 用他們的動人故事和人生經歷詮釋品牌核心價值的廣告, 更是好看而打動人心. 堅守自己的定位, 用堅定的態度訴說亙久不變的故事, 我認爲, 這是品牌能永續生存的關鍵.

Louis Vuitton Core Value Ads

In my next post, I will continue this topic by extending it to personal identity and style building. Hope you’ll like it!

下一篇我會繼續這個話題, 轉而分享個人品牌和風格的建立, 希望你們會喜歡!

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