It’s the brand…stupid!

 In news

Going out of fashion

So. Farewell then…Arcadia, as the fictitious E. J. Thribb obituarist and threnodist may well have said. But rather than a wailing In Memoriam ode, the matter of Arcadia’s demise and what might be salvaged from the wreckage surely deserves reflection and dissection.

Exaggerated reports of death

There has been much talk in the financial press of death and all things related when the name “Arcadia” is mentioned. “Bloodbath”, “Death in the High Street” that sort of banner headline and then Lord Rose (of M&S fame and now Ocado) talking to the BBC of people coming to “…pick over the carcass”,  Hyena-like. Quite some image.


In so many cultures and religions there is belief in some sort of life after death. And so, it is with business. If the bricks and mortar estate of Arcadia is the resting body, the rising spirit – if any exists – is the intellectual property to be gleaned from the brands that comprise the Arcadia stable. For the soul of Arcadia to rise, one or more of its brands need to have perceived value to be sold, recycled and monetised – well ‘business is business’.

It’s curious that so-called retail insider-analysts are placing their betting chips on Top Shop over Wallis Evans and Dorothy Perkins in this respect, Why? To follow their thinking, you need to understand what makes a brand.

The Brand Identity

On the face of it there’s a quick and easy answer. It’s your design, everything from and including:

  • Business cards
  • Logo
  • Website
  • Letterhead
  • Photographic imagery
  • Stationery
  • Uniform
  • Packaging


But, that’s a lazy answer. What makes a brand is more complex. The above list is the visual representation of your brand. It’s not its essence. At best your brand is the crux of your corporate personality. It represents your core values and sets the tone for how you choose to transact business. If done well, your brand adds great value to your business. Here’s how.

  • Professional and confident. A strong brand exudes these qualities and gives customers the impression your business is established and can be trusted.
  • Consistency. A powerful visual brand creates a sense of unity and cohesiveness across all marketing materials and platforms.
  • Differentiation. The demonstration and representation of how you are different to the competition. It’s how you stand out in the marketplace.
  • Awareness. Making sure your brand is front and centre in the minds of your customers and target market. A never-ending handle to crank. Loved by marketing directors for its nebulous possibilities and loathed by FD’s for its potential cost without measurement. Let them fight – it’s important.
  • Loyalty. Your customers keep coming back. You have connected with them.
  • Recognition. Having your brand instantly recognisedis the El Dorado of marketing imagery. That is the end game so long as it remains associated with positive customer belief. Who wants to be recognised for all the wrong reasons? Remember Ratner the jeweller…

Whether Top Shop or any other brand within Arcadia is, in the words of Lord Rose, a “…tastier bit of the carcass” remains to be seen. Should some of the above still apply, it’s difficult to see why it would be cast aside. If it is reincarnated, it’s all about the brand just as it always was.

Have your clients protected their brand? Call OPUS, we can help.

Murray Fairclough
Development Underwriter
OPUS Underwriting Limited 
+44 (0) 203 920 9985
Written and researched by Ben Fairclough


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