Why Did People Get So Upset?
One obvious reason the name change was such a big deal is that people don’t like change. “Human nature is such that people don”t like change and whether it’s a good change or a bad change, it’s still a change and it’s something different,” Ashley Rosenbluth, director of corporate marketing at prestigious brand consulting firm Landor Associates, told us.
Mark Tungate, a journalist and author of books like Media Monoliths: How Media Brands Thrive and Survive and Fashion Brands: Branding Style From Armani to Zara, offers a more fashion-focused theory. He compares the name change to that of Christian Dior becoming merely Dior in early 2002. “Christian Dior had been in his grave a very long time, 40 or 50 years, whereas Yves Saint Laurent had died, what, three years ago; so it seems a little bit soon in people’s minds,” he argued. “Particularly here in Paris, where the death of Yves Saint Laurent was a very emotional moment. People gathered in the streets to see his funeral procession; it was almost like a monarch dying. He was kind of a legendary figure, one of the last great couturiers, so people are very sensitive about his legacy.”
We also have our own theory as to why the reaction to this was so big: the internet, which, as everyone knows, is a place for people to hate on things. Even though the internet was around when Dior got its makeover, it was hardly the place for, erm, discussion that it is now.
Speaking of logo changes that sparked a backlash, none of the experts we spoke with felt Slimane’s decision was comparable to Gap’s logo change fiasco from 2010, even if the reaction may have been similar.
“Although it’s a negative backlash, with YSL [Hedi Slimane] seems to have a strategy behind it,” said Candy Washington, corporate marketing associate at Landor. “The new shows are coming up; he’s doing a store change as well and he has a history of doing this in the past with Dior (naming menswear Dior Homme), so I think he has more of a track record and a strategy behind it, whereas Gap didn’t really have a connection to the consumer. In this case, he’s staying the course and he’s supporting it and Pierre Bergé has supported it as well and I think one of the challenges with Gap is that they changed their mind.”
And unlike the public, the experts were all pretty quick to defend and support Slimane’s decision. The consensus seems to be that the new branding works because it is in line with where the fashion house is and where it’s going. “Both the name change and the visual identity that surrounds it communicate what the company is doing,” said Rosenbluth. “It signals his return to the original heritage of the fashion house and how he’s going to shape the future of it, so it’s sort of a return to classic but in a very modern way.”