Brand Communications Audit: H&M


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A presentation on the state of H&M's advertising (through their Spring 2012 collection) in terms of their print and online branding strategies as well as suggestions on how to build the brand transnationally, with an emphasis on content marketing/creation and user engagement.

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  • 1968Founder ErlingPersson buys the hunting and fishing equipment store MauritzWidforss. Sales of men’s and children’s clothing begin. The name is changed to Hennes & Mauritz.
  • H&M has created an exclusive collection of red-carpet looks, all made from more sustainable materials such as organic cotton and hemp as well as recycled polyester. The collection showcases the diversity of what is now possible in greener fashion, with outfits in different styles reflecting the variety of today’s red carpet fashion.The collection has already been seen on the red carpet.
  • H&M has created an exclusive collection of red-carpet looks, all made from more sustainable materials such as organic cotton and hemp as well as recycled polyester. The collection showcases the diversity of what is now possible in greener fashion, with outfits in different styles reflecting the variety of today’s red carpet fashion.The collection has already been seen on the red carpet.
  • Brand Communications Audit: H&M

    1. 1. Casey Waltz Brands & BeliefBrand Communications Audit 10 May 2012
    2. 2. Semiotic Analysis of Brand & Meaning• Name• Logo• Advertising
    3. 3. Name • H&M stands for Hennes & Mauritz • Name is reminiscent of LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy) the “M” and “H” being switched • Name itself sounds simple and yet a bit mysterious since they are just letters, not full names. First store opened up in 1947 in Sweden as “Hennes”H&M soundssimilar to luxurybrand “LVMH”
    4. 4. Name• Opportunities: can align itself with luxury brand, easy to pronounce.• Risks: Too bland and not descriptive or exotic enough; has no particular cultural connotations with just initials.
    5. 5. Logo• Denotation: Two red letters H and M, both red with “&” sign in between them• Letters are equally distant from each other, but left side of the letters are thinner than right sides• Forms are rounded yet straight, that slant toward the right• There appears to be symmetry within asymmetry of the letters Thicker linesThinner lines
    6. 6. Logo• Connotation: Artistic, signature of initials, calligraphy/cursive, painting, pop art, simple yet modern, hint of luxury, movement in the letters which could signal innovation and creativity, a bit rebellious• Myths: Red cross, Swiss/Norwegian/Swedish flag, humanity, peace, neutrality, love• World of the ad:
    7. 7. Slogan• H&M does not have an official slogan, however, their prices and product names are included in most of their ads and branding. It could be argued that the price point and product itself create a kind of slogan.
    8. 8. AdvertisingH&M Conscious Collection, Summer 2012
    9. 9. AdvertisingH&M Conscious Collection, Summer 2012
    10. 10. AdvertisingH&M Conscious Collection, Summer 2012
    11. 11. AdvertisingH&M Conscious Collection, Summer 2012
    12. 12. Advertising H&M Conscious Collection, Summer 2012Denotation: Four women standing in a row, all wearing a yellow or white-colored dress,but each dress is in a different style and cut.• The woman at the far left, wearing a yellow dress, has her arms crossed with her right elbowresting on her left hand with her right hand underneath her chin; woman second to the left wearingwhite and purple dress has left hand on hip, third woman wearing a short canary yellow dress hasboth hands on hips; and woman on the far right is wearing a ruffled off-white dress and is holdingwhat looks to be a dozen or so balloons with her right hand.•The women are standing in front of large green fern plants and trees with blossoming flowers.•Behind them is a bench and in front of them looks like a pool of water or a pond. They are standingon beige colored brick.•The H&M logo is on the bottom right which hovers right about the pool of water.•While light is shining brightly on the four women, behind them it is black, which might indicatenighttime.•The women are looking directly at the camera.• The woman holding the balloons appears to be smiling or laughing.
    13. 13. Advertising H&M Conscious Collection, Summer 2012Connotation: Sophistication, wild, jungle, natural, earthy, haute-couture, luxury, red-carpet, wedding, partycelebrity, paparazzi, super-models, heiresses, strength, independence, motionParadigms: Sophistication vs. wild; Haute-Couture/Luxury vs. natural/earthy; Human vs. plant/animalMotion (party) vs. Stillness (plants/water); Independence vs. group-solidarityMyths:Jane from TarzanSex & The CityVictoria’s Secret Models
    14. 14. Advertising H&M Conscious Collection, Summer 2012World of the Ad:
    15. 15. Advertising H&M Conscious Collection, Summer 2012• Opportunities: Incorporation of nature and eco-friendly brand/advertising; accessibility; empowerment; forward-thinking; innovative• Risks: Shallow, artificial; ‘green-washing;’ false portrayal of real women• Sender/Receiver: Luxury image for an economical brand/price; accessible, aspirational for consumers
    16. 16. AdvertisingSummer 2011
    17. 17. Advertising Summer 2011Denotation: A woman is standing with her arms up, right arm straight with her hand behind herhead and left arm bent with her hand visible on the side of her head.•She is wearing a floral red and orange bikini. Her right leg is extended and her left leg is straight.•Her hair is wet and it is draped along her shoulder and chest. Her stomach and chest are also wet.She is looking directly at the camera. Her body is tanned and there is light with some shadowsdirected on it.•Behind her is what appears to be the ocean, which she stands in front of, we cannot see below herthighs.•The water in the background changes from completely translucentto a light aqua marine, then a navy blue. It merges with the horizonWhich is also a range of light blue to a darker blue.Advertising Copy• In small white letters “Bikini Top” and below it in a largerfont in white letters “$4.95”This text is located on the right side of the womannext to her bikini top and placed just slightly above the water.•H&M logo is on the bottom right of the frame, next to her left leg.It is placed half in the clear water and half in the aqua-marine water.
    18. 18. Advertising Summer 2011Connotations: Sexy, beachy, exotic, feminine, vacation, utopian, adventurous, purity(water), wet, heat, summer, dream, mirage-like, fantasy, strength, powerParadigms: Exotic vs. Purity, Wet vs. Sun/HeatMyths: Victoria’s Secret ModelSports Illustrated pin-up modelJames Bond girlVenus de MiloCastaway/Robinson Crusoe
    19. 19. Advertising Summer 2011World of the Ad:
    20. 20. Advertising Summer 2011• Opportunities: Pairing super-model with inexpensive bikini, very democratic, simple and easy to understand• Risks: Emphasis could be more on supermodel and not fashion brand, overly sexual, not creative enough.• Sender/Receiver: Proximity to customer with naming of price, accessible, aspirational for consumers
    21. 21. AdvertisingH&M February 2012 Ad Campaign
    22. 22. Advertising H&M February 2012 Ad CampaignDenotation: A man is standing up with his arms slightly away from his sides. He is wearing only white briefs. He has tattoos on his left shoulder/side of his chest and tattoo sleeves on both arms. The background is gray.• He is looking to the right and his hair is gel and coifed.• The picture is gray scaled and black and white.Advertising copy:• “David Beckham” is in all capital, white translucent lettersover the man’s chest. Underneath is “Bodywear” in all capitalwhite letters, but text is a bit smaller than that of above.• “Trunk briefs” is on his waistline in black normal case letters.• Below is is “£9.99” in larger black font.• Bottom right is the H&M logo in white, half is placed on hisright thigh and the remaining is on the gray space.• On the bottom left is the text “In stores from Thursday 2ndFebruary.” in small black, normal case letters.
    23. 23. Advertising H&M February 2012 Ad CampaignConnotations: Sexy, masculine, mysterious, strong, classic, retro, phallic, warrior, Olympian, hero,black and white, anger, athleticParadigms: Warrior, Masculinity; black vs. whiteMyths:Greek godSpartanCalvin Klein underwear adsAbercrombie & Fitch adsJames Dean
    24. 24. Advertising H&M February 2012 Ad CampaignWorld of the Ad:
    25. 25. Advertising H&M February 2012 Ad Campaign• Opportunities: Simple, motivational, democratic, empowerin g for men and women.• Risks: Celebrity promotion might be too cliché, could be mistaken for Calvin Klein/Armani underwear ads, too much focus on the body and not the brand.• Sender/Receiver: Proximity to customer with naming of price, accessible, trying to attract male demographic.
    26. 26. H&M Website H&M Home Page - USA
    27. 27. H&M WebsiteH&M Home Page – part II - USA
    28. 28. H&M WebsiteH&M Home Page – part III - USA
    29. 29. H&M Website - analysis• “Inspirational Film” to coincide with swimwear advertised on homepage.
    30. 30. H&M Website - analysis• Sounds and images of water to enhance the web experience of the swimwear collection.
    31. 31. H&M Website - analysis• First tab on homepage is their online magazine “H&M Life,” which is a mixture of fashion news, style insight, trends, H&M street fashions, H&M videos etc.• This is very effective to bring the H&M brand outside of its own universe into the fashion world. Legitimizing themselves as not just a ‘fast fashion’ brand but one that is constantly navigating, analyzing and remarking on the latest trends of other brands• Gives them more depth; not just a retailer but a content creator.
    32. 32. H&M Website - analysis• Ladies online section is set up so it is easy for the customer to filter the items as well as the color and size.• There is a ‘dressing room’ option to pair clothes on various sized models with different background.
    33. 33. H&M Website - analysis• While there are many different H&M collections, (maternity line, Conscious line), the website does not do a good job in differentiating the sections in their branding/web design.
    34. 34. H&M Website - analysis• H&M has a separate Fashion Against AIDS campaign web page and reaches out to the customer with their “Make out for a cause” initiative.
    35. 35. H&M Website - analysis• Overall, the website is not strong at conveying the H&M brand. There are a variety of past guest designer collections that are not noted on their website which are critical for the ‘griffe’/ luxury appeal they are trying to create.• The web advertising is bland and is not as active and foreword thinking as it should be for fast fashion.
    36. 36. Packaging• H&M standard shopping bags are relatively simple and plain. While they can be easily spotted in a crowd, they are not taking much risk except when they partner with guest designers.
    37. 37. Packaging• Guest designers’ packaging are unique and reflect the personality of the designer.• Co-branding is effective; these bags are rare and sell out quickly with the collections.• Needs to be more frequency and awareness of both even when lines are sold out.
    38. 38. H&M Guest Designer Collections• Karl Lagerfeld (2004)• Stella McCartney (2005)• Viktor & Rolf (2006)• Madonna (2007)• Roberto Cavalli (2007)• Kylie Minogue (2007)• Comme des Garcons (2008)• Marimekko (2008)• Matthew Williamson (2009)• Jimmy Choo (2009)• Sonia Rykiel (2009)• Lanvin (2010)• Versace (2011)• Elin King (2011)• David Beckham (2012)• Marni (2012)
    39. 39. Corporate Website• H&M is very transparent in their corporate reports and investor relations. They place many phone/web conferences online to download for free.• They explain their ‘fast fashion’ business concepts and their commitment to sustainability.• #1 user of organic cotton in 2010; use of all organic cotton by 2020.
    40. 40. Company Reports – Annual Report• Annual report focuses on – Economic strength post-recession – Global expansion in emerging markets – Sustainability & Sustainable Fashion – Fashion Against AIDS/Unisex fashion – Designer collections
    41. 41. Company Reports – Annual Report
    42. 42. Company Reports – Annual Report• Some interesting observations: – List the statistics on employees (number in each country, gender) – Give detailed information about the board members (date of birth, previous work experience)
    43. 43. H&M Retail Space/Store• White walls; a lot of spot lighting; sparse advertising (print ads are mainly only placed above the register)• Collections are seasonal; window displays currently are advertising summer collections/bathing suits• The atmosphere of the retail store is very chaotic and disorganized• Long lines to the fitting room; cash register service is slow• Not enough sales associates to help on the floor• Poor lighting• Merchandise is overwhelming and messy; too many things being sold in a small space; made it seem like it was outlet shopping or Wal-Mart experience• Only one section that was free of clutter – the most expensive section.• No men’s section (Rue Rivoli store); just women’s kids, and maternity
    44. 44. H&M Retail Space/Store
    45. 45. Price Marketing• H&M is a leader in price marketing with maintaining consistently low prices• H&M integrates their price marketing into their advertising and communications so that it becomes one with the product and brand, not a separate entity• Even when advertising ‘designer’ collections they include the price at a competitive, yet affordable level• From $4.95 to $199.00, brand image and price marketingis very proportionate/consistent in ads
    46. 46. Price Marketing
    47. 47. Mission Statement• Fashion and quality at the best price – that is H&M’s basic offer. There is also always something new happening at H&M: new products arriving, more stores opening and new campaigns being launched. That’s what makes H&M inviting, exciting and constantly able to surprise the customer.
    48. 48. Mission Statement• The core of their mission is to offer a variety of quality fashion items at an affordable price to customers with continuous change and movement in their collections.• Also, sustainable fashion is another part of their corporate mission, from a consumer, ethical, environmental and social perspective.
    49. 49. Staff-training style/Uniforms• There is no information about staff training, however there is information for employees about careers and open houses.• They cater to students and offer videos showing H&M employees, from sales associates to designers.• In the H&M store in Paris, sales associates were not wearing a uniform, possibly H&M clothes however.
    50. 50. Additional Communication Tools• Fashion Star Reality Show – co-branding with NBC and celebrity judges
    51. 51. Brand Positioning with Competitors• Main competitors with same business model – Zara: prices are a bit higher than H&M, store space and overall image is more sophisticated and European. – Forever 21: prices are lower than H&M and only sell clothes for women, known to make “throw away” clothes (they are worn once and then fall apart). – The Gap: a bit more traditional and conservative
    52. 52. Brand Positioning with Competitors• H&M is the most global and trend-setting, celebrity endorsed brand amongst its competitors.• The celebrity association not just in their ads, but who actually voluntarily wear their Conscious line makes a huge statement about affordability and status.• H&M then combines status, luxury and affordability into one – creating a new kind of concept that breaks the paradigm of celebrity wealth and expensive fashion. Now, anyone can have a status without needing the wealth because the clothes are attainable.• H&M is trying to change behaviors in terms of how people view and consume fashion.
    53. 53. Shaping Identity & Community• Their advertisements are modern, constantly up to date with the latest celebrities and trends so they try to shape a ‘cool’ identity with their community.• There is a sense of motion in their ads – with a congruity and integration of the prices.• Trying to create a new reality where you can wear a designer brand at an affordable price.• Consumer insight: If celebrities are wearing these clothes, I can too without paying a huge price!• Extreme proximity between brand and consumer, with idea of luxury and creativity.
    54. 54. Shaping Identity and community
    55. 55. Shaping Identity & Community• The space of the store needs to be able to fit as much merchandise as possible and offer as many choices and selections for the customers.• They are creating an ‘activist’ identity with their Fashion against AIDS campaign as well as their “Conscious” collection.• They are also catering to a higher end of customers who would like to spend a bit more on more expensive materials put together by a guest designer.• They create a transnational community that can fit a mass demographic, babies, children, teenagers, men and women; maternity and plus size. This can be both advantageous and also limiting to their brand.• Overall, they are a modern brand of the 21st century – democratic in their prices; affordable, accessible.
    56. 56. How consumers respond and use the brand• Consumers benefit from H&M’s consistently low prices, sales and constant turn-around of new merchandise. This is the main brand usage.• Young women are the main users who often shop at H&M a few times a week.• Seasonal clothes for men and women (i.e. bathing suits)• Cheap accessories for girls• Not a lot of brand awareness of designer collections because they sell out so quickly among customers. Thus, consumers might not be aware of the higher lines.• Fashion bloggers are more likely to wear H&M with select luxury items because the brand is associated with a higher-end ‘fast fashion.’ It is acceptable and good ‘cheap’ in the fashion world because H&M fashions/styles/colors are up to date.
    57. 57. How consumers respond and use the brand
    58. 58. How consumers respond and use the brand
    59. 59. Corporate vs. consumer brand• The corporate H&M brand that owns other retail brands/stores has a commitment to sourcing all of their merchandise from 100% sustainable, organic cotton by 2020. Despite the “Conscious” collection, the H&M consumer brand does not make an effort in relaying this sustainability message as effectively within in their ads and communications.• Currently, the majority of consumers are more concerned with the overall price than with transparency and ethical behavior of H&M. This could change overtime.• While the brand has been popular in Northern Europe since the 1980s, it has only gained popularity in the States since 2000.
    60. 60. Mythical Dimension• Superhero/bionic woman myth• Modern savior myth (humanitarian, ‘Red Cross’) with transnational identity• Goddess/god myth for the 21st century• Ads show fit and healthy men and women that are often posing with their arms out, or on their hips, head or face.
    61. 61. Trend-setter or follower?• Integration of trend-setting with business model of ‘fast fashion’ but also borrows from high-end fashion.• Trend setting with high profile celebrities wearing Conscious outfits on the red carpet.
    62. 62. Trend-setter with incorporation of celebrities
    63. 63. Trend-setter with incorporation of celebrities
    64. 64. What the brand should do next…• There are so many different messages and collections, not all of them can be communicated at the same time. – The stores cannot possibly house every single collection and even with just women’s and children’s collections in one store, it is too overwhelming.• Need to reorganize their brands and collections across all channels so that there is one larger message. – Is it about sustainability? Celebrity/design fashion? Both?
    65. 65. What the brand should do next…• Brand is moving away from traditional clothes and into more edgy clothes, ads and branding – Needs to consolidate the extraneous lines and start to cut them back or move them outside of H&M (ie: Home Furnishings, make-up, accessories) – Need to either remove the children’s line or just have stores meant for kids’ clothing (i.e. like the Gap Kids/Baby Gap stores) – Maternity and Plus lines somehow need to be reconfigured into the retail stores
    66. 66. What the brand should do next…• Brand needs to focus on sustainability in their web, retail store and product/merchandise communications because this will become a big part of their identity in the next few years.• Designer ‘guest’ collections are effective in the ‘griffe’ model Kapferrer talks about, however, they are still so exclusive that the collections are sold out within days and the brand awareness of the guest designer brand diminishes.
    67. 67. What the brand should do next…• Perhaps H&M can do a reverse co-branding with its guest collections so that they are featured in the Versace or Marni stores and they create a kind of reflexive relationship.• Continue creating their own ‘fashion’ content with H&M Magazine and utilize social media more.• With their advertising, H&M needs to start creating their own myths beyond that of Victoria’s Secret Models and CK underwear ads.
    68. 68. What the brand should do next...• Continue creating more content on their H&M Life section of their website• Arvidsson’s informational economy theory is relevant here because not only is H&M selling product but they are exchanging information that goes beyond their own brand, but other brands as well. They can construct their brand through a transnational lens as well utilizing digital media.
    69. 69. What the brand should do next...continue creatingtransnational fashion community for Millennial generation online