Younger consumer appeal triggers Waterford brand identity overhaul

A/NZ marketing manager talks through the brand identity refresh and local marketing and advertising campaigns to help Waterford build its appeal with a new generation of consumers

Fresh Waterford look
Fresh Waterford look

A desire to appeal to younger audiences while retaining its heritage in craftsmanship and rich history has led Waterford crystal to overhaul its visual look and feel globally.

The new visual brand identity has been created in partnership with UK-based agency, Identica, and started launching across Waterford’s global digital and social assets from January 2021.

Identica said the new identity, marketing collateral and packaging have been inspired by the brand’s signature Lismore cut, which in turn reflects the architecture of Lismore Castle in county Waterford, where the brand was founded in 1783. The aim is to reflect craftsmanship and heritage, and the brand’s logo and seahorse icon have also been redesigned in this vein. While the cross stems of the ‘W’ have been retained in the logo, for example, the typography has been modernised to appeal to a younger audience.

In addition, the colour palette has been updated and centres around ‘Fjord’, a deep shade of green which references the manufacturing process and original factory location in Waterford. This is complemented by molten orange, which takes its cues from the crystal cutting and shaping process.

A new photographic approach has also been adopted, which Identica said reflects the Waterford product range in authentic settings while “recontexting” the classic collection away from traditional lifestyle imagery to reflect both luxury and contemporary style.

While there has been new imagery in campaigns used in recent years, this brand refresh is the first significant change since 1996, when the seahorse was dropped from the logo.

Waterford marketing manager A/NZ, Luis Venegas, told CMO the aim is to signal a new era for the brand and modernise perceptions of crystal across younger consumers. The work has been 12 months in the making and involved consumer research as well as the Identica team spending time in the Irish factory with Waterford staff to understand the brand heritage and manufacturing process, as well as how to bring new generations of consumers to the brand.  

“Crystal is perceived as dated and old-fashioned. It’s also perceived as prestigious, but we sometimes struggle to engage these younger consumers. If we really want to remain relevant… we need to think about these newer generations. That’s how the rebranding happened,” Venegas said.

Credit: Waterford

The Australian rollout of the fresh brand look, logo and brand mark kicks off in social media and digital in February, with new packaging also due this year and at least two concession stores across Waterford’s David Jones and Myer footprint due to be completely refurbished in coming months. The US was the first subsidiary to launch the refreshed branding online, with A/NZ the second, and local social and digital assets should all be switched over by March.

Venegas’ A/NZ team is now working on local campaign plans. Two main campaigns approaches are being pursued centring around craftsmanship, the intricacies of the Waterford product and how the crystal is cut and shaped, and showcasing the production foundations of the fresh colours and new brand visual identity.

Venegas said the A/NZ market tends to be more aligned with the UK and Europe versus the US, which usually means the local team taps into assets from the UK/EU for activities locally.

Content has proven a great way resonating with consumers’ lifestyles more effectively locally, and having put more emphasis on content marketing in 2020, he plans to keep up this investment in 2021. This is combined with increasing focus on digital marketing.

“The guide we want to follow with this rebranding is we need to be where the consumer is, and part of their lifestyle. If we want to target those younger generations, we need to make sure we know exactly what those are and their needs,” Venegas said.

“We also want to do more experiential marketing. Before COVID, we had a big product launch in February 2020 called ‘Mixology rum’ at Sydney’s Lobo Plantation bar, and invited customers, influencers, media to an event focused on celebrating rum and how rum is better with our product. We want to keep that digital and experiential focus this year.”

Waterford was also the glassware provider for the inaugural Fever-Tree Gin Festival in Sydney in 2019.

“We have been more open to partnerships as that’s key to targeting new audiences, so we need to keep being open to partnerships to find these new consumers,” Venegas said. He added face-to-face was also considered the primary way of building engagement with Waterford’s interior decoration products.

Another factor in perceptions and opportunities for growth is the impact of COVID-19 on consumer purchase and consumption patterns.  

“Through COVID, we have seen how strong our brand is. Our sales went up as people were spending more time at home and spending more time with family and friends at home,” Venegas said. “Consumers wanted to show off their success with beautiful products in the home. We saw different consumer budgets and people were not spending money on things like travelling, so why not treat yourself with something else?”

A longer-term commitment to building fresh consumer connection will also see the marketing team embracing a drinks and theatre motif, Venegas said.

“When you think about drinking vessels, how can you update that? You can change the colour, shape, cut and design, but you use it for one purpose: To drink. How can you make it about more than drinking? To do that, we need to make it more experiential, theatrical. In the next year, we will be bringing in components that help us to execute something like this,” Venegas said.

Waterford global VP, Davy Thomas, said working on the new branding challenged the whole team to understand the challenges it was facing and unpick the opportunity ahead.

“Identica defined the creative idea at the heart of our brand and brought this to life in a contemporary and visually arresting way, while still holding true to the brand’s heritage,” he said. “The new identity, marketing collateral and packaging have been well received across the entire business, it’s a real step change for Waterford and we are confident it will encourage our target consumers to reappraise the brand.”

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