Lessons to Learn from the Royal Brand
By Rafael Dos Santos
“The enduring appeal of Her Royal Highness and her family provides a strong example of how a brand can generate long term, continuous success”
With the arrival of another royal baby and almost 18 million people globally watching Prince Harry and Meghan Markle say ‘I do’, it is undeniable that the Royal Family have retained popularity over The Queen’s record-breaking 65-year reign. With Princes William and Harry the most popular royals, it is evident that this popularity will continue. In order for the royal brand to have generated this kind of longevity, it had to be responsive to change. The enduring appeal of Her Royal Highness and her family provides a strong example of how a brand can generate long term, continuous success.
Personal Experience : My Dinner with the Queen
When I relocated to the UK I never expected to be having dinner with the Royal Family. My journey begins when I decided to relocate as I was tired of not being accepted in my country. Leaving my well-paid job to become a kitchen porter felt humiliating however little did I know what was to come after I met someone at a housewarming party- let’s call him John. He was Scottish, tall, green eyes and we began dating but I could barely speak English.
John worked for Her Majesty as the manager of beverage and food for various royal residences. John loved his job and there are many things the Royal Family do to help their staff that are not publicised, which made me like them even more.
At the end of 2002, John invited me to accompany him to The Queen’s ball which was a dinner for the staff at the end of the year. When I reflect, I was a migrant who had just arrived in the UK with limited language skills yet I was being invited to Buckingham Palace to meet Her Majesty.
It was all surreal. John used to call me a rough diamond, because I needed ‘some polishing’ around the corners. ‘The diamond was being polished’, I used to think. The environment where I grew up never required royal etiquette.
The grand day came however cameras were prohibited. John was a familiar face at Gieves and Hawkes, royal suit suppliers, but I was in ecstasy and disbelief.
We met some of John’s colleagues at a hotel bar near the Palace. Girls in their evening gowns that looked as if they were going to the Oscars. It’s a shame men’s outfit had to be so boring. We all look like penguins: black and white, apart from a few Scotsmen who were wearing their kilts.
We all went in, through very tight security, and we were directed to the Picture Gallery, containing The Queen’s private painting collection. We sat down for dinner where the decoration was an orange tree about 1.5m high, it was a magnificent view. Needless to say we had silver cutlery and the food was divine.
The Queen, Prince Philip and a few other Royals were at the top table, close enough for me to go to Auntie Betty and say hi – but you are not allowed to speak to her until she speaks to you. The funny thing is I could barely speak English – what was I going to say? ‘Beautiful dress Betty!’.
Jokes aside, As John was someone she spoke to daily, she came to talk to us. I had learned how to address her but I was nervous nonetheless. The Queen spoke to us for a few minutes about the food and Fortnum and Mason, the food supplier, but she also commented that she liked the fruit from Brazil. She said ‘I hope you enjoy your evening and John looks after your food at home. He certainly does here’.
The Queen left at 11pm but danced the night away until about 2am and left the Palace.
For about 3 years, I enjoyed being close to the Royal brand; attending concerts at the Royal Albert Hall, visiting royal residences and the launch party of the The Queen’s Gallery. I have been lucky that I’ve maintained a good relationship with a lot of people from Buckingham Palace. The Royal brand is something that fascinates me so I decided to study the evolution of the brand over these years. A brand with so much heritage, power, sophistication but, above all, the Royal brand is a family with Queen Elizabeth II at its heart.
So, what is it about Her Majesty that makes her so popular, respected and powerful? I think it a combination of four essential qualities…
Historically, the Royal Family has been considered the most detached family from everyday society. However the gap between the royals and the average British family has decreased over time by offering increased insight into their private lives, contributing to the longevity and authenticity of the brand. Social media can supplement this by offering an intimate look into their private lives.
Prince William’s popularity could be down to his new role as a father of 3. With young children now a key feature of the Royal Family, it is undeniable that this has made the family appear more ‘human’. Prince William took George to school himself and the amount of photographers that were allowed to attend was drastically reduced in comparison to that of William’s first day at school, which broke down the barriers to the life of the royals. Photos and stories often surface of the children having the same tantrums as any other young child, which creates a more relatable family. Breaking down barriers increases the trust between you and your audience.
Prince Harry offered increased insight into his life through discussing his experiences of grief and counseling after the death of his mother. This emotional connection increases the humility of the Prince, thereby fostering a stronger connection with their audience.
By offering examples of how your business has overcome problems or offering case studies, you can create a strong emotional rapport with your audience and they are more likely to repeat custom. The Royal Family illustrates the importance of this by evolving to decrease the some of the differences between themselves and the public.
Embracing the Internet revolution
Queen Elizabeth’s reign has spanned great change within global society including the ever-increasing use of computers and the Internet. It important that the brand fully embraced these developments through continuous and creative uses. The queen set the precedence for her reign by allowing television cameras into her coronation and this has continued throughout her reign. It is important to maintain active accounts so that your audience will not miss the pioneering work your business is achieving in your field.
The diversity of the range of media channels, including Instagram, YouTube and Twitter, employed by the Royal Family is also important. A vast range of channels means the family can connect with different audiences using a variety of posts and images. This expands the possible reach of their posts and can diversify their audience. Especially by employing memorable posts, such as The Queen and Prince Harry’s video to Barack Obama concerning the Invictus Games as these are likely to be shared.
Social media channels are used by the Royal Family to document their global visits and demonstrate their increasing inclusivity. It is important that these global connections are maintained in order to bring tourism to the UK and aid the government in diplomatic relations. For your brand, try having a global focus so you can expand your audience and increase your outreach.
From this, we can learn that the Royal Family provides a key example of how a brand has embraced technological advances in order to remain at the forefront. Embrace these technological advances fully and maintain active channels.
Create Cultural Change
The evolution of the royal brand could be a reaction to outside societal changes however the royals could also be viewed as trailblazers in society. The actions of Princess Diana and the recent wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle broke many previously established royal trends. This included Meghan walking part of the aisle alone and Harry choosing to wear a wedding ring. These changes could inspire other couples to make similar changes. Here we can see the Royal Family evolving to embrace societal changes but are also an example of how a business can be trailblazers for change. As a business, do not be afraid to create your own change and be revolutionary. This could set your brand apart and increase your audience.
Create recognisable branding
Despite the Royal Family being a brand that has evolved over time, they have also maintained some traditional aspects that remain important. The Royal Family illustrate how you can maintain coherent aspects of your brand whilst being open to change to ensure your success. For example, the Queen’s Christmas message is a key feature of the yearly program and is well received by the public. Additionally, the outfits of the Queen remain a talking point, including her renowned choice of hats, with bets even open for what colour she will wear at prestigious occasions. The traditional nature of these features help to establish the coherent and recognisable nature of the royal brand. It is important that your brand remains recognisable and this can be achieved through maintaining a coherent thread whilst also embracing the latest changes.
What can you learn from the Royals?
By taking the Royal Family as a case study, brands can learn how to evolve to generate long-term success, for example by embracing technology to remain at the fore. The Royal Family have employed these to offer further insight into family life and humanise their brand; which is key in creating an engaging and approachable business. Alongside this, the Royal Family have used their platform to incite change and this can be used by brands as an inspiration of how to be influential in your sector. However, it is important to not lose the essence of your brand and retain the most recognisable aspects, just as The Queen has done, to ensure that you will retain your previous audience whilst evolving to supplement this. Evolving your brand, just as the Royal Family have achieved, will increase the longevity of your business.