Changing the Face of the Most Famous Family in the World
When a company decides to rebrand itself, or one of its products, it’s usually through choice. This may be to take the business in a new direction or re-establish its mission and values. It could be to relaunch a product for a new era, and the next generation of consumers. Rebranding can include a few adjustments, or an extreme overhaul. Whatever the reasons and end focus, the decision needs careful consideration.
What if you were rebranding one of the most famous institutions in the world? An instantly recognised global brand that draws a huge amount of revenue and interest, whilst endeavouring to maintain respect, tradition, and authenticity in an ever-changing world. Even more prevalent, the rebranding isn’t through choice and seeks to somehow carry forward the love and loyalty held by many for the longest serving face of the brand.
The British Royal Family’s brand is big business. The Crown Estate’s assets alone are worth over £15.5 billion. This doesn’t incorporate some of the establishment’s highest profile properties, including Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace. Then with the additional earnings, and revenue from tourism and events, the overall income would be difficult to quantify. With the reigning monarch at the helm, their public image heavily influences the perception of the royal brand as a whole and could influence the continuing value of the monarchy.
When Queen Elizabeth II passed away on 8th September 2022, the huge outpouring of grief was overwhelming. Many travelled to pay their respects, and the news and television were dominated by a national period of mourning. The Queen had reigned over the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth for 70 years. For the majority she was the only monarch they had ever known and a transition into a new era seemed surreal.
As Queen Elizabeth was only 25 years old when she ascended to the throne in 1952, the public’s exposure to her was limited and carefully orchestrated. This enabled the nation to be presented with a new sovereign who could carve her own public image. In contrast, King Charles III was 73 when his mother died, and the longest serving British heir apparent. His life has been on show through the years and changes in television and the media have meant we probably know more about him than any other new monarch. This has allowed pre-conceptions and opinions to be formed about the type of king he would be before Charles even came to the throne.
Personalised branding for a British monarch includes their head on stamps, banknotes, and coins. The royal cypher (the monogram of the reigning royal) appears on post boxes, government buildings, official documents, and they are referred to in our national anthem and in prayers. Many everyday household items carry a Royal warrant if they have been used in a royal household in recent years, and this is personal to the serving monarch.
All the tangible and visible examples of the Royal brand will be gradually reimagined and updated for a new era. But what will people think and feel when they see the King’s image? This will largely depend on the intangible aspects of the brand. Perceived culture and values are becoming an increasingly important focus. Can King Charles maintain the authenticity, ethos, and integrity of the Royal brand which was so defined by Queen Elizabeth during her reign? With some estimates valuing the monarchy as a business at around £67.5 billion, the brand influence of its lead representative will impact the UK’s economy and global image for years to come.
King Charles has certainly had an outstanding role model. He was 3 years old when he became heir to the throne and his life has been one of duty and expectation. Compared to Queen Elizabeth, who inherited her title at an unexpectedly young age, the King has been able to calve his own brand legacy in adulthood. As Prince of Wales, he was founder of ‘The Prince’s Trust’ charity and developed the Duchy of Cornwall Estate. The King has also been famous for his opinions on the environment and climate change, and less popular at times for some choices in his private life.
As King, Charles will be expected to live up to the expectations set out for the role. The brand equity. At his coronation on 6th May, the new sovereign will outline his promises to the nation and devote his life to serving the crown. This will officially begin a new chapter for the monarchy, with all on eyes on King Charles to maintain the core values, traditions, and integrity of the Royal brand. Ultimately, Queen Elizabeth set the standards in marketing brand heritage and epitomised the role of a monarch. Only time will tell if her successor can continue to deliver on the brand promise.