The Queen’s role as the custodian of the royal brand, is to control its DNA. As the brand continues to evolve with the departure of Harry and Meghan, she will need to adapt the royal brand internally rather than adapt it around them. Jane Anderson asks the pressing question for the Queen and the rest of the royal family – how do they keep the royal brand strong and relevant, and not find themselves in this situation in the future?
In 2011, I had a really interesting and exciting new job. I was traveling a lot. I was flying interstate, visiting fabulous clients and delivering training programs I was passionate about. I stayed in 5-star hotels and even had a full-time driver with me in each city I went to. I got to meet celebrities and it was a super fun job with all these really great perks.
READ MORE ARTICLES ABOUT THE QUEEN & THE ROYAL BRAND: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle: Can they be part-time royals?
But after 12 months, I realised that job wasn’t really for me. I was exhausted and I decided to move on. As much as I would have loved to have kept parts of the lifestyle, flying business class, staying in the best hotels and to have kept my full-time driver, I couldn’t. When you decide to not be part of a brand and part of an organisation, you can’t have all those things as well. And certainly, for the average person, you would be laughed at in the workplace if you left and then said that you wanted to retain all those things.
The same goes for Harry and Meghan, who have decided to leave the royal family and to establish their own independence. However, unless you’ve been under a rock, what they have been wanting to do is to use the “royal” part of the “Sussex Royal” brand. Now, whilst you might think “why not?” there are a few things the Queen has to manage.
The ”Sussex Royal” brand certainly has value, With over 11.2 million followers on Instagram that carries a lot of weight for sure. However, as celebrities they could easily create their own account with a brand new identity and build that even further. So why not do that?
Creating a new identity
It’s been quite clear from the beginning that Meghan and Harry have wanted to put their stamp on things and in many cases rejected anything to do with Royal protocol, which is why the use of the word “Royal” now seems strangely inauthentic, ironic and incongruent for them to want to use it. It seems that it’s for the purpose of creating their own financial independence rather than it being an authentic part of an independent brand they’re trying to create when they’ve been so clear on rejecting it. We all strive for a sense of identity, but you can’t have your cake and eat it too.
The potential issue that no doubt the Queen can see is that if Meghan and Harry were to ever divorce the question could then be about who retains ownership of that brand. The brand has 11.2 million followers on Instagram, so it is a highly valuable brand. This creates its own questions on trust and who manages the brand in the Queen’s absence, particularly when hundreds of trademarks were registered without consulting her.
How brands are created
Branding is made up of three things, clarity, communication and control.
Clarity is about the brand’s values, vision, purpose, who the customer is and what you stand for.
Communication is about how you articulate the brand through content, customer experience and the culture of the organisation.
Control is about maintaining the brand identity and DNA. This means ensuring that when crises happen or when things don’t go to plan that that is managed effectively. Control is about brand authenticity and consistency. This builds trust which is at the heart of branding. There’s no doubt that the Queen has had her fair share of crises and control to deal with in her life.
So, the problem that the Queen has had when it comes to the “royal” brand is that if she were to lose control of the brand to Meghan and Harry, which has been in the family for centuries, that it could lose its authenticity. Especially going offshore and being based in North America.
The narrative being created
Ironically, the narrative that’s being created by them through the media with their actions is one of entitlement. And as a result, it’s creating a negative impact around their brand. Their complaints that the Monarch is being unfair to them is creating a very different narrative than what they say they want to be known for. A little humility in this situation could really go a long way as the PR for the brand is now creating a negative impact for their personal brands. As Seth Godin said, one of the world’s leading marketers said, “Every interaction in any form is branding.”
Where to from here
So, at the moment they have one of two options. They can keep arguing over it, or in the time that’s lost, why not create your own identity? Create a positive narrative and get on with the work you say you want to do.
The Queen on the other hand has a lot of work on her plate to consider how to continue to maintain the balance of integrity and relevance for the “Royal” brand. Whilst there is a lot of intervention happening at the moment the question will be “how do we prevent this happening again in future?”