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Unlocking Rebranding Potential: Lessons from Michael Hill’s Brand Overhaul of 2024

Unlocking Rebranding Potential: Lessons from Michael Hill’s Brand Overhaul of 2024

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Michael Hill, the jewellery store, has just pulled off arguably one of the biggest brand overhauls we’ve seen in retail, or anywhere, in recent years.

The high street jewellery store synonymous with high-street shopping centres has completely changed their brand, including its logo mark and visual branding, brand proposition, in-store experience, product lines, website, and positioning in the crowded jewellery marketplace. The only thing they’ve seemingly kept is their name, and that they sell jewellery.

Chief Marketing Officer, Jo Feeney has been quoted as saying that the brand has never experienced anything like it, and the work has been grounded in “authenticity and connect(s) to our heritage and history.” The work took two years and was “meticulously brought to life”. For organisation’s considering reviewing their own brand, this is a great example of how brand, when seen as a commercial lynchpin and done properly, can completely transform a business.

When it comes to rebranding, there are some key lessons we can learn from the Michael Hill story:

  1. Research. Although we don’t know the ins and outs of their research, Jo Feeney has mentioned research as part of the process in shaping the brand’s strategic direction. It’s reasonable to assume that retail insights, customer journeys, focus groups, industry reviews, digital marketing data and more made up a core component of their strategy. A deep understanding of the market landscape and consumer behaviour is essential for identifying opportunities and crafting a rebrand strategy that will resonate with the intended audiences and stand the test of time. While data-driven insights are crucial, actively listening to people and sharing their stories is equally vital for strategy development. This approach enables informed decision-making, ensuring that the rebranding efforts remain relevant and impactful in the long run.
  1. Business case. Building a business case for rebranding is like shining a spotlight on the path forward. It brings clarity of purpose and ensures that every step of the process is strategic, well-informed, and aligned with the overarching business strategy. This clarity elevates the rebrand from a surface-level makeover to a strategic business move that paves the way to the organisation’s long-term success. The business case serves as a compass for resource allocation, helping guide decisions on investments in design, marketing, and other areas by outlining expected ROI and resource utilisation. It also sets the stage for success by establishing measurable outcomes and metrics, providing a roadmap to gauge the effectiveness of the rebranding efforts. 
  1. Time. We need to be dictated by the work that must be done. While successful rebranding initiatives can be time-consuming, getting it right is essential to success. In the Michael Hill rebrand, Jo Feeney says that the new branding is a result of what they have been “working towards for the past two years of building a premium, aspirational brand that moves with the times.” Rebranding demands careful planning, from developing brand strategies to crafting designs and implementing changes. Each step requires time for analysis, decision-making, and feedback. Jo Feeney says, “each element of our rebrand has been carefully considered to align with our history and DNA as a brand and to allow us to continue evolving.” Moreover, communicating the rebrand to external stakeholders is a process that cannot be rushed. It takes time to build awareness and manage expectations effectively. Taking shortcuts or rushing through the process can result in a below-par outcome, ultimately damaging the brands reputation – you can’t hurry greatness. 
  1. Budget. Creating a solid financial plan is crucial when it comes to executing a successful branding effort. This plan is the blueprint that determines the resources available for executing the strategy and keeping the project on track. Adequate funds allow for engaging experienced professionals, investing in high-quality design and production and utilising effective marketing channels. Michael Hill chose to invest significantly in the brand refresh, transforming their logo and brand, social media platforms, website, and opening a new flagship store, as well as aligning with the global icon Miranda Kerr as their first-ever brand ambassador for the next two years. 
  1. Authenticity. This is the secret sauce that builds trust and loyalty among customers and stakeholders. By staying true to the organisation’s genuine values, beliefs, and identity, it creates stronger connections and fosters lasting loyalty. Moreover, authenticity ensures that any rebranding efforts align with the brand’s core essence and heritage; preserving its integrity and credibility. When authenticity takes the front seat, brands not only earn trust and forge meaningful connections but also ignite passion among employees, turning them into enthusiastic brand advocates who champion the brand from within. 
  1. Courage. Courage is the superhero cape that you need during a rebranding journey. It’s about having the bravery to shake things up, face the unknown and embrace the winds of change. When you are refreshing your brand, you’re essentially challenging the established norms and brand mindset, which can stir up some resistance from stakeholders accustomed to the familiar. But having the courage commit to pushing boundaries and innovating is what sets your brand apart in a crowded marketplace. Plus, let’s not forget the roller coaster ride of uncertainty that comes with rebranding, whether its anticipating market reactions, predicting consumer behaviour or managing internal dynamics. Courage lies in the ability to inspire bold action and foster resilience in the face of challenges, propelling the brand towards a future that is brighter, bolder, and full of endless possibilities.

Whether you want to rectify poor branding, update an outdated brand, or reflect the evolution of your business it’s essential that you commit wholeheartedly, not only to the outcome but also the journey.

It is always a privilege to be trusted with the rebrand of an organisation. Visit our creative case studies to see some of the brand work we’ve been entrusted with.