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Brand Heritage

Former Marketing Director at Richemont, IWC Schaffhausen

IP Interview
Published on April 20, 2020

Why is this interview interesting?

  • Why a brand’s heritage is so important to the foundations of the business
  • How to bring the heritage to life through storytelling
Executive Bio

Jens Fabian Herdieckerhoff

Former Marketing Director at Richemont, IWC Schaffhausen

Fabian has over 20 years experience marketing luxury watches. He started his career as a product manager in Germany for Cartier before moving to Richemont when the company purchased luxury watchmaker IWC in 2001. At Richemont, Fabian was the Marketing Director for IWC where he was responsible for the international marketing strategy over 7 years. He then spent 2 years running Burberry Watches at the Fossil Group and is now a luxury market consultant.

Interview Transcript

Why do you think heritage is so important to building a brand?

I think it’s absolutely key. It doesn’t mean that you can’t build a new brand out of a brilliant idea or some superb design, but especially for hard luxury goods, say, watches and jewelry. The heritage is key because people want to buy a product that has a timeless value. That’s what’s so important about it. If you buy a piece of clothing, we’re not talking about fast-fashion, even if you buy a piece of clothing that’s worth a lot of money, you know that it’s going to go out of fashion at some point. With a watch, that’s not the case. If you buy a classic such as an IWC Portuguese or a Rolex Oyster or whatever, you know that you can probably pass it on as Patek Philippe says in the advertising, you pass it onto the next generation or even more than that. That’s why having the background, seeing the brand has been around for so long, it gives you the comfort of believing that the intrinsic value stays and you’re not squandering your money, it’s quite simple.

How do you bring that heritage to life when messaging to younger people?

It’s really about the message, not so much the channel. Back then, there was no social media the way we know it today. We really transmitted that message to all of our channels, be it online through the websites with the detailed texts that explained it, with printed books, with a magazine that the brand brought out. A printed magazine that was sent out to clients. I think it was four times a year, that always illustrated parts of the history. Books were made. A museum was launched for people that visited the brands. We made a lot of movies about the watch-making aspect, about the history. Basically, it’s an omni channel approach to communication. You really have to play all the channels. Today, of course, it’s extended to all of the social media channels that we didn’t have at the time. The message hasn’t changed. The vehicles maybe are slightly more digital now than it was back then, but the message is the same.

You have the same message across all channels, just delivered in different ways.

Exactly. The message is really again about that authenticity, it’s probably the most important word. You want to be authentic. You want to have an authentic quality. Especially in newer markets such as in Asia back then for us, it was really important for clients to understand that this brand had been there for a long time, even if they had not heard about it before because otherwise they would have not spent that amount of money on the product. They would have gone to a brand, to one of the bigger brands, say, Rolex, because they were sure that that brand delivered this continuity and this heritage. That’s why we’ve had to convince these new customers that IWC had the same stature.

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