Luxury Rebranding in a Digital Age: The Case of Carl F. Bucherer


Tamar Koifman | July 11, 2016

For today’s luxury brands looking to unveil a new brand image, a strong digital and social media strategy is key to success. Luxury Society investigates the factors at play when luxury brands rebrand themselves and looks at a case study from watchmaker Carl F. Bucherer.

Have you noticed that so many storied luxury brands, names such as Gucci, Buccellati, Saint Laurent, and Belmond have all made important shifts in their branding strategies in the past years? Have you wondered why now?

The answer lies in a number of factors. First, is the changing media landscape around us. Companies that once relied solely on the prophetic words of fashion editors, glossy magazine ads, and beautiful billboards, have finally had to face the facts that in today’s fast-changing digital age, doing what was done before just because “it’s always been this way,” wasn’t going to cut it anymore.

Another factor at play is a consumer shift to less conspicuous and more discreet branding. No longer can brands rely on their clients doing the advertising for them by carrying around logo-laden handbags. This is especially true for a major market for luxury goods, China. Shoppers there have become more discerning, sales of Louis Vuitton have taken a hit as increasingly worldly and sophisticated consumers see them as “commoditised and overpriced”

“Remaining relevant in a digital-first world means evolving and often times, rebranding.”

All of these factors add up to a tough moment for brands who have relied on their past to grow their future. Remaining relevant in a digital-first world means evolving and often times, rebranding. Executives that have been through a rebranding know that it can be a complicated shift. With many differing opinions from different stakeholders, cultural and intellectual property constraints, short deadlines to make the magic happen, and a limit to resources available it’s, well… tough.

A recent example of a brand that has taken the reins in defining what its brand will mean now and in the future is Swiss luxury watchmaker, Carl F. Bucherer. The 128-year-old Swiss luxury watchmaker from Lucerne is probably best known for its retail conglomerate parent Bucherer. A leader in watch and jewellery sales in Western Europe, the Bucherer organization, with its longtime experience in selling watches of all brands to eager consumers, was well attuned to develop a brand of its own.

With key long-time brand values centered on craftsmanship and heritage, the time had come for the brand to build upon the strong foundation and develop a new identity that looked to the future. The new brand positioning was being launched with a celebratory unveiling of its “distinctly golden” look and put Lucerne, the brand’s home at the heart of Switzerland, at the center of its communication. “Our mission is to shape this future with respect to the brand’s distinct heritage,” Carl F. Bucherer CEO, Sascha Moeri, was quoted as saying.

Carl F. Bucherer hired digital strategy & marketing firm, Digital Luxury Group (parent company to Luxury Society), to launch the new brand online. What was interesting about their approach were the various strategies and tactics applied:

Carl F. Bucherer’s new golden branding was unveiled during Baselworld 2016, an incredibly important event drawing 150,000 media, retailer, collector, and customer visitors into Basel, Switzerland over a period of eight days to soak up the latest from watch and jewellery brands. Standing out from the crowd during this key industry event is often a challenge, but the brand recognized that digital was a key lever this time of year.

A completely redesigned website was unveiled at which has brought to life everything that the brand stands for. Key values centered around craftsmanship, the city of Lucerne, and the color gold, are visualized in large, beautiful images. Not only does the site look fantastic, it’s been performing well. Site traffic increased by 56% comparing the same time periods in 2015 to 2016.

The digital communication plan focused on maximizing brand visibility by capitalizing on the phenomenal reach of celebrity ambassadors and fans such as international actress Li Bingbing, Chinese superstar actor Jindong, and Gogoboi, one of China’s most well-respected fashion bloggers. Leading luxury watch Instagrammers, like WatchAnish with over 1.5 million followers, showcased the brand during Baselworld.

A campaign partnership, #BringMetoBaselworld, was executed with HODINKEE, one of the most reputable online media players for watches, whereby the site’s audience of watch aficionados were invited to enter a contest to join Carl F. Bucherer in Switzerland and at Baselworld. Thousands of entries were received, allowing the watchmaker to make a deeper connection with fans and prospective clients.

For more details on the steps Digital Luxury Group took to rebrand Carl F. Bucherer digitally, see the video here:

We will see digital playing a bigger role in the strategy brands take in their rebranding. Now the question remains, who will be next to show us a new brand reveal?

Editor’s Note: Carl F. Bucherer is a client of Luxury Society’s parent company, Digital Luxury Group

Social Media | Watches