How Hugo Boss made itself ‘me too’

Going back to my ad agency days in the 80’s, there was a clothing brand that I aspired to be able to buy, as for me it encompassed all the attributes of great design, style and kudos.

By the late 90’s and the early new Millennial, I was fortunate enough to be able to visit their stores and enjoy wearing the brand

I remained a Boss fan for may years to come until I saw their new brand ‘identity’ launch last year.

The new look was launched with the 2022 #BeYourOwnBoss and #HowDoYouHugo social media campaigns, headlined by a celebrity line-up including Future, Hailey Bieber, Kendall Jenner, Joan Smalls and Anthony Joshua (Boss), and rappers Big Matthew, SAINt JHN, and American dancer Maddie Ziegler (Hugo) but so what?

It left me feeling completely underwhelmed and worse, for me it was devoid of all the attributes that collectively create a powerful brand.

This was dumbing down at its worst. A slab sans font without distinction and devoid of iconography which appeared solely to rely on ‘making the logo bigger’.

And this has been implemented to such an extent that many items in their range look like the cheap, imitation brand knock-offs that they have fought so hard against in recent years.

In their press release they described the rebrand rationale as creating ‘two brands for two young demographics through a radical rethink of direction focused on a much clearer targeting of its two brands with Boss aimed at millennials, aged 25-40, with Hugo targeting Gen Z’s, aged under 25.’

And it would appear that they are relying on social noise and hype to create a relationship with their brand rather than by creating a deep, emotional link with their audience. This is dangerous as it could be a race to the bottom as the mega fashion brands compete against each other with ever increasing marketing spends to momentarily attract sales rather than develop deep, unshakeable, brand loyalty.

Their strategy also suggests that the only way to attract younger consumers is by dumbing-down, by removing all the intrinsic attributes that make a logo distinctive and valued and replacing it with a monolith devoid of all character.

Overall, this seems an extraordinary move. Not only does their demographic targeting for both brands seem too young, but it’s dismissing the very audience who had historically been their core consumers – die-hard brand aficionados who had been responsible for elevating it to the aspirational label that it had become, who valued the intrinsic, stylish attributes of every aspect of the brand and their high street retail presence.

A very sad rebrand indeed.

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Last Updated on 15/07/2023 by Eddie Stableford

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