Why brands should always be themselves

House of Fraser is somewhat of a stalwart in Britain. Not quite as plush as John Lewis, but not as ‘high-street’ as Debenhams, House of Fraser falls neatly, and safely, in the middle.

From the latest Phase Eight dress, to reed diffusers, bathroom mirrors and kitchen steamers, the store has concentrated on its high-earning, middle age, middle class audience since birth.

So what on earth has happened in the past few months? The Christmas marketing campaign was the first sign of the store refocusing its marketing strategy on the younger shopper.

With the beats of “You Don’t Own Me”, and angst ridden young dancers body popping whilst wearing HoF gowns, this ad yearned to be cool and modern.

And the latest Valentine’s #Emojinal social campaign appears to have gone one step further. So much so in fact, that some customers are questioning if the brand’s Twitter account had been hacked. In a bid to get down with the kids, the account has taken to placing emjois over celeb pictures (no, I’m not sure why either).

Some users have (somewhat righty) questioned this new personality – one asked if a 12 year old had been put in charge, others just taking the mick, only to get shot down by the brand for being boring.

So why the personality transplant?

A spokesperson for House of Fraser told City AM: ‘We wanted to try something less traditional for Valentine’s Day this year in order to engage with a younger audience.’

And yes, to be fair, it is being talked about, but is House of Fraser ready for such a big jump, so suddenly? Try to be too cool, without the brand offering to back you up and you’re on dodgy ground.

Changing a brand’s positioning and strategy not only takes bravery, but time and evidence as to why the change is needed and how it can be achieved without losing your core reason for being. Rush through the process and you risk alienating your existing audience and causing confusion with the new, both of which lead to a negative impact.

House of Fraser may have the brand insight to know they need target the younger audience, but must make sure the proposition is finalised before jumping in the deep end.

As M&S well know, sometimes trying to be too modern, just makes you look older.

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