Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world an interesting and distinctive brand. My latest personal brand of the month goes to…
As our first “Brand of the Month” following our #BrandTransformation campaign, Victoria Beckham is truly fitting. After all, who doesn’t know the story about her evolution from Spice Girl to sophisticated fashion designer? And her show during London Fashion Week earlier this month captures this sophistication. Not to mention it’s also the 10th anniversary of her fashion line.
On its shiny surface, there’s something quite magical about Beckham’s brand transformation. But let’s take a closer look at how this was achieved (perhaps it’s not that superhuman after all!):
Driven by passion and inspiration.
It all starts with a movie.
In her first autobiography, Learning to Fly, she wrote, “I was a girl with a dream. It all started when my mum took me and my sister to see Fame, the Alan Parker film about the Manhattan school for performing arts. It was 1982 and I was eight.” From there her passion grew. She studied ballet as a young girl and then pursued her interest in dance at the Laine Arts Theatre College in Surrey.
In 1994, Beckham (then Victoria Adams) auditioned for an advert in The Stage, looking for girls who were “street smart, extrovert, ambitious and able to sing and dance”. Her dream soon became a reality; she found her fame as “Posh Spice” in the all-female pop group, the Spice Girls.
Add some spicy co-branding.
We know that with the right co-branding, each respective brand’s strength tends to remain stable, even through various transitions. And Beckham has achieved some fantastic co-branding through the years.
Just as the Spice Girls were at their peak, Beckham began a relationship with David Beckham. Co-branded by the media as “Posh and Becks”, the couple’s celeb-status seemed to become instantly magnified. As a result of their partnership, Beckham’s brand was also elevated and appeared everywhere, from tabloids to the very fashion glossies that would soon be dripping with her label.
More recently, she also co-branded herself with UNAIDS, highlighting a socially responsible dimension to her brand. In 2014, Beckham was named a UNAIDS International Goodwill Ambassador. “This is the beginning of an important journey for me,” she explained at a United Nations General Assembly event. “As a woman, and a mother, I have a responsibility to support other women. I am proud and honored to be working with UNAIDS in this new role to help to raise resources and awareness, to support and empower women and children affected by HIV.”
Mix in hard work, risk-taking and smart brand positioning (and re-positioning).
After the Spice Girls reign came to an end, Beckham started a short-lived solo career, during which she was signed to Virgin Records and Telstar Records and had four UK Top 10 singles. Beckham soon abandoned her music career to pursue her real passion: building her fashion brand.
“It’s what I’ve always wanted to do,” she shared during a Q&A at Saks Fifth Avenue (via InStyle). “There was a little detour because I was in a pop group, but it was the fashion that excited me. I felt like I had a point of view. And I love women and I want to make women feel the best version of themselves. I always say it started with girl power, and now, it’s about empowering women through fashion in a different way.”
Note that even while repositioning her brand from the music industry to the fashion industry, the core of her brand – values, passion, purpose, vision – remained true: to empower women.
She positioned herself in the fashion world through modeling, fashion mag editing and some
high-profile collaborations with other brands, including a limited-edition fashion line for Rock & Republic. In 2006, Beckham created her dvb Denim collection and launched it in New York’s Saks Fifth Avenue the following year, alongside of an eyewear collection. Her US launch proved to be some savvy brand positioning, given her brand there was less associated with her former pop persona.
By taking risks, working hard, and positioning herself with the right people, she launched an eponymous label in 2008, and a lower-priced label in 2011. The Victoria Beckham label went on to be named designer brand of the year in the UK in 2011. Since its launch, her brand is stocked in over 60 countries internationally. A hit with celebs, her label consistently makes an appearance on the red carpet.
Finally, she owns her transformation.
Beckham doesn’t bury her past. In fact, quite the opposite; she brilliantly uses it to add humour to her personal brand. I think this recent “Victoria Beckham: A Decade of Elegance” video by British Vogue says it all:
Over the past decade, Beckham has recreated her brand as an internationally recognised style icon and fashion designer. This month, we watched her shut down London Fashion Week with a stunning show, as her children and husband David sat FROW. And what a perfect way to mark her decade of fabulousness.