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One is not on-brand! Rebranding by Royal appointment?

We’re big advocates for creating and using the right brand to attract the ideal audience and customers/clients/leads. Your brand is an attraction piece that is essential to get right if you’re going to be a successful business or run a successful campaign for your organisation.

Get the message wrong? Well… that’s never going to help you or your organisation and it’s certainly not going to attract the right people – it could well repel them, actually.



King George V knew this

As King to Great Britain between 1910-1936, King George V was also cousin to a German emperor, Wilhelm II and his Grandmother, Queen Victoria married Prince Albert (a German). This gave the British Royal family reservation to use the rather grand name of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and an obvious German link that didn’t seem to be a problem in the early 1900s.

… but then on June 1917 a squadron of German Gotha IV biplane bombers set off for London to bomb the capital and kill innocent people, people that the King reigned over.

The German link to the bomber, the name ‘Gotha’ and the German links in the family caused quite the stir with the public. Of course, in the modern day it would have been all over social media and Google in minutes, but it was soon in headlines and the talk of the streets in war time Britain.

Things might have moved a little slower back then, but King George knew he had an identity crisis and he needed to drop the name before any more bombs were dropped on the Great British Isles. His son King George VI also had on going branding issues because he had to earn the trust of his own secret service during WWII because of his own brother Edward VIII being a known Nazi sympathiser.




Ich bin Windsor!

What the Royal brand needed was a name and an identity that resonated with their subjects (their ideal avatar if you will) and that meant ditching the ‘Gotha’ name for something more familiar and something more… British!

There were no names in the history of the Royal family that they could legitimately take – they could have taken any in history and they did but it was the name of a castle   and unlike a modern day rebrand, they couldn’t just have a branding session and brainstorm their brand purpose and go with it – it had to be correct.

They hit upon some inspiration at Windsor Castle while using the much-loved residence. They took the name from Windsor Castle and forever adopted it as their family name.

They rebranded from Gotha to become ’The Windsors’!


It didn’t change the fact that the Royal family are of German descent, but it did change the overall ‘feel’ of the Royals. It did of course leave some much-needed brand guidelines to work with.



Royal brand guidelines

The name Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was retired and hidden forever. Although a quick Google search now will throw up all sorts of content, many are simply told that the Royals are the Windsors, much like a Marathon is now a Snickers (although they did change back to mark the 30th birthday of the Mars owned chocolate bar.

We’re serious though. The rebrand was that simple… although it still takes a lot of time and effort to keep the new brand as the one that people use.



You can rebrand but you can’t hide

Minor details like the family owning requisite German uniforms (because the British King held honorary ranks in a number of German regiments) still remain in the Royal Collection to this day, they’re just never mentioned or displayed.

It’s a classic rebranding exercise and the results are pretty successful.

Of course, you’ve probably heard that the Royal family are German. From time to time, the anti-monarchy brigade will wheel that fact out and it’s unlikely that this is the first or last time you’ll hear about it.

It’s just not the common narrative about the Royals as since King George renamed them, they’ve done a great job of avoiding it in all media and correspondence.

The facts are there, but they’ve been largely (mostly) hidden from sight now.



Rebranding the Princess?

Lately there has been some controversy over the brand of the newly-wed Royal Harry and Meghan. The beautiful partner of Harry is of course not British either and many sceptics say that this just isn’t popular with the Queen, but we’ll leave the view of the Royal, German family to those who love a good conspiracy!

The real issue for the brand of the Royals is that Harry and Meghan have made moves to be ‘less Royal’ and of course this means that their breakaway brand “Sussex Royal” will need to be re-worked.

This will be no mean feat as they’ve managed to trademark the brand as well as amassing 10.8M followers on Instagramat the time of writing. One thing we’re sure of though is that their personal brands are likely to be strong enough to carry it off and help them continue to be a success.

But the Royal Family brand are making sure that the breakaway Prince and Princess don’t taint their brand values.

As daft or as fictional as this all sounds, it makes complete sense to be on both sides. On one hand the Duke and Duchess can’t be a Duke and Duchess if they aren’t willing to live the Royal life anymore, and on the other hand the brand of ‘Sussex’ in the context of the Royal family can’t be used as it could well be seen as a brand infringement.

It’s quite the fairy tale battle though and we’ll be watching it with much interest over the coming months.

Another Royal rebrand is upon us and it won’t be hidden in the archives thanks to social media and the 24/7 media online.



Need a royal appointment?

Rebrands aren’t just for Royalty. EVERY business, corporation and personal brand needs a solid brand that is differentiated from the rest and then sometimes – a rebrand and refresh.

Suddenly discovering your roots are no longer ‘on point’? Be Smart and give us a call now.


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