Cry God for Prince Harry, England and the Royal brand (part II)

21 January 2020

Prince Harry certainly has more a complicated brand architecture these days. He has diluted his pure-bred personal brand with two co-brands acquired through marriage (The Duke & Duchess of Sussex and the more colloquial ‘Harry & Meghan’), plus a newly minted sub-brand (Sussex Royal) which, unfortunately, sounds more like a brand of potato than a royal moniker. Instead of replicating the success of his father's Dutchy Originals, Sussex Royal seems to have, rather awkwardly and expensively, upset Her Majesty The Queen, either through its poor use of grammar or an infringement of the Monarch's intellectual property.

The Sussex Royal brand

With question marks over the Duke & Duchess of Sussex's use of “Sussex Royal” and stripped of their HRH titles, they now seek their “complete and absolute” freedom from any financial constraints by Buckingham Palace over future financial deals. They are also learning that brand naming isn't that simple. For a trade mark expert's perspective on this, read "The Sussex Royal brand - a right royal mess'.

But the question raised in my 2012 thought-piece was the one posed to me by Channel 5 News - does Harry help or hinder the Royal brand? I concluded that any good brand delivers on its proposition and that, at that time, he did, and still think he does, given the affection he is afforded here and around the world and the good causes he has ably supported. That may not be quite so true of his sprawling portfolio of co-and-sub-brands.

Brand names can be misleading

These “diffusion” brands are definitely more problematic. First of all, does the Duke & Duchess of Sussex brand deliver on its proposition? As a resident of the county, I’m not at all sure it does now they have scarpered to Canada. As one wag commented over a pint in the George & Dragon, “who now will defend us from the invading hordes from Hampshire, Surrey and Kent?”, “We’ll have to rely on the 18th Duke of Norfolk” replied another, referring to our local nobles, whose family has lived in Arundel Castle since 1138. It seems that, for a very, very long time, royal nomenclature hasn’t always done what it says on the can.

Then what about “Harry & Meghan”, “Harry & Meghan Windsor” or just plain “H&M” - the monogram that features on their website and social media feeds? Well, Harry & Meghan feels a tad ‘Kardashian’. “Harry & Megan Windsor” is rather last Century, and the acronym “H&M” will infringe trade marks aplenty.

So what is there to make of all of this? Well, from the perspective of a brand expert it’s a right royal mess. The Monarch has imposed her rigorous royal guidelines and that's caught Harry & Meghan off-guard. That’s either because they've been badly advised, naive, or because Harry & Meghan’s “progressive new role” - and therefore their brand purpose - has yet to be clearly defined. Once they get their heads around their purpose, brand naming will become easier. My suggestion would be to buy a pile in West Sussex, consolidate their co-branding around “The Duke & Duchess of Sussex” and use that clear brand positioning to make Sussex a post-Brext world leader in something or other; after all we already make Rolls Royces here. The Duke of Norfolk (Arundel) and the Duke of Richmond (Goodwood) would be forced to rebrand to keep up.

In the meantime, it would seem that a break with royal duties means no titles and no ‘Royal’ brand for H&M, so their new business model is going to have to be more like a Canadian start-up, getting by without a royal leg-up.

The litmus test for whether a brand is hot or not is how easy it is to write about, so I must conclude once more that, with interest in Prince Harry remaining high and largely positive, his personal brand remains “well hot” and strong enough to flourish without a royal endorsement, now that Buckingham Palace's brand police have forced him, like his uncle, to adapt his branding to civilian life; albeit for very different reasons...

Cry God for Prince Harry, England and the Royal brand (2012 article) 


Peter Matthews
Nucleus Founder & CEO
January 2020

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