11 APR. 2013

PPR Renames to Kering for Transformed Brand Identity

PPR, Pinault Printemps Redoute, is one of the world’s largest conglomerates which includes luxury brands such as Gucci, Saint Laurent, Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen as well as sports & lifestyle brands Puma, Tretorn, Cobra Golf, Volcom and Electirc. In March 2013, the group made the announcement that it will adopt a new name Kering, along with a new logo and tagline “Empowering Imagination.”

PPR’s has been gradually transforming since 2005. The group has been fast expanding in the past few years and has successively acquired Sportman’s Guide Inc, Volcom (a popular skateboard and sportswear brand in the US) and shares of Puma. These initiatives directed PPR away from exclusively focusing on luxury brands and extended its reach to the sports and lifestyle sectors. At the same time, PPR has sold its department store chain Printemps in 2006 and is selling its catalog and online retailer La Redoute. According to their press release, “in a few months’ time, the new Group will have left the distribution sector completely. It is now focused on a single business: apparel and accessories, across two fast growing segments: Luxury and Sport & Lifestyle brands.” In order to demonstrate a more comprehensive brand image, PPR hopes to adopt a new brand identity to suit its transformed positioning.

There are many interesting aspects of this new brand identity that are worth discussing.

To begin with, why ‘Kering’?

Chief Executive Officer François-Henri Pinault explained the core idea of the name in the press conference held in Paris on March 22. “It is supposed to evoke ’caring’ … we are there to care for the brand and take care of the brand.” The formation of ‘Kering’ is a combination of ‘KER’+ ‘ING’. ‘KER’ means “home” in the indigenous language of Brittany, where Pinault’s father founded the family business in the early 1960s, while ‘ING’ implies ‘going’ and ‘doing’. As a family group, Kering wants to showcase its heritage, origin and deep roots.

The Use of Logo

Kering also adopted a new logo inspired by the favorite animal of Pinault’s father; the logo is an elegant owl with a love-shaped face and two opened wings, implying the wisdom and expertise of Kering. The incorporation of graphic signs into the logo is not a common practice among luxury groups. For example, Richemont, LVMH and other luxury brands use simple word marks for their logos as they present a sense of authority and heritage. Kering, on the other hand, is expecting to evoke a friendlier image towards consumers.

Branding for the Chinese Market

In the meanwhile, the name change of PPR to Kering also showcased how significant the Chinese market has become for the luxury industry. Kering has especially created and announced two Chinese names in both simplified and traditional Chinese. According to Pinalt, the Chinese name 开云 (kai yun) means good luck because it sounds similar to another Chinese word 开运 (kai yun) or “opening of luck.” Moreover, China’s Sina Weibo and Youku will be part of Kering’s global brand campaign along with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Vimeo.

Just a month after the announcement, Kering has already started buying major advertising space in local newspaper, which reinforced that China is one of the biggest focus for Kering in the future.

Kering = Caring?

Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to find a perfect name that is suitable for all countries. Despite the brand’s intention, Kering has bumped into another interesting word meaning. In Indonesian/Malay, the word “kering” is an adjective which literally means ‘dry’ or ‘dried’; the Malay phrase ‘kuih kering’, for instance, means dried pastry. Besides the desired ‘caring’ identity, as a sportswear and luxury company, Kering is supposed to convey a sense of elegance, prosperity and liveliness, which is unlikely to be enhanced by the alternative ‘dry’ or ‘dried’ interpretation. Although Indonesian and Malay speakers only occupy a very small group of consumers worldwide, these markets should not be overlooked. In fact, Indonesia is expected to become the largest luxury market in Southest Asia. Kering will have to make extra efforts in order to establish the desired identity in these markets.

To avoid such negative associations, brands could use linguistic check services such as The Brand Checker to test a name’s performance in different languages and cultural contexts before a global launch.

Reinforce Brand Identity Through Storytelling

A story is much more powerful than a fact. Branding is not merely about naming, designing and strategizing, but also how a brand imprints the brand identity and further evokes emotional response in the audience’ mind. Kering is leveraging its heritage to tell a story. The company plans to further communicate its new brand identity through global advertising campaign and digital storytelling, which is realized by a series of web videos by fashion blogger Garance Doré.

Although the new brand identity is yet to be approved by the company’s Annual General Meeting in June, Kering has already widely rolled out the rebranding campaign. It is interesting to see how Kering will further elevate its ‘caring’ spirit in the next few years.

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