When brands lose their way – What if you cannot work out what a business’ brand means?

I love my hairdresser, I love spending time in the salon.  In fact I love them so much I would never recommend them for fear they would get too busy to fit me in, as I experienced years back in the UK!

What I do not love is sitting at the wash basin and being confronted by a large poster of tattoos on the length of a disconnected arm! I look around the salon and see mainly women of a particular age demographic, none of whom is likely to have any tattoos on their bodies or to embrace them as an art form. Maybe it is just me, but it seems so out of sync with the Rodney Wayne brand I signed up to all those years ago.

The disconnected arm belongs to Richard Kavanagh who is creative director of Rodney Wayne these days.  Have never met him and have nothing against him but I am not seeing much of what I would designate as creative in the stuff loudly displayed in the various salons.

Rodney Wayne has a tradition and a special place in New Zealand hairdressing. When I first visited the salons the brand I experienced was one with a clear sense of its role in people’s lives. It was about thinking globally, ie bringing in sophistication and a sense of the latest looks from around the world but then thinking locally ie located in shopping centres and Malls, offering an environment with a look and feel more elegant more cutting edge than the high st salon and critically, highly qualified local staff who, using their own creativity, created new looks on trend, that were relevant to the market and the client demographics.

Now I feel like I am in an alien place. It looks like a Rodney Wayne salon still, the clientele look the same, the stylists look the same but the marketing and the brand promotion is shouting out to someone else who frankly does not hang out in a Westfield Mall!

So where is this brand going from here? Are we still welcome? I have been hoping for weeks that the awful posters will disappear to be replaced by something which is a pleasure to look at (while relaxing and having my head massaged) and which is congruent with the Rodney Wayne brand. I hope I am not going to be disappointed.

I guess for me this provides a good example of a brand aspiring to be something else, forgetting who its customer base is and hoping that some miracle will happen. Sadly life is not like that and brand loyalty does not happen that way.

Originally published on another one of my blogs on Wednesday 16 November 2011

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