Judge and Jury: Royal seal was hardly the jewel in the crown of the B&H brand - The Palace has withdrawn the right for B&H to use its crest, but such a strongly identifiable brand is hardly going to crumble without it, says Mark Wilson, direct

So Gallaher has lost its Royal crest. The Palace has finally given up the ciggies. The end of the gold packet must only be days away. Benson and Hedges must be quaking in its boots.

So Gallaher has lost its Royal crest. The Palace has finally given

up the ciggies. The end of the gold packet must only be days away.

Benson and Hedges must be quaking in its boots.



In truth, probably the only real concern Gallaher has is related to the

hassle of removing the crest from everything permanent and I doubt

there’s much of that. Most of the materials in the cigarette marketplace

are pretty transient.



In some situations, losing the Royal seal of approval could be a blow to

the brand - a traditional butcher serving the upper echelons

perhaps.



Perish the thought that they might be judged by the value of their

product.



In Gallaher’s case, I doubt whether any but a few of their consumers

would even notice the change.



Why? Simply, B&H has a well-established, high profile, sophisticated

brand strategy. Its brand equity is tightly bound into its pack colour,

visual language and curiosity advertising.



There are two groups to worry about: existing B&H smokers and new

(usually teenage) smokers. Existing smokers are a loyal bunch, rarely

swapping brands. It’s the taste that counts, apparently. In any case,

the crest is such a long-standing and widely used mark that its value to

the brand as a whole cannot be significant.



The new smokers are more tricky. They need to be influenced before they

have fallen into a long-term habit - the brand and its values lead the

assault. And with current attitudes to anything Royal bordering on

complete disinterest, it is unlikely that the removal of the crest will

be a major blow.



In the tobacco market, B&H falls into a distinctive category which has

built up brand values which give it special value. Where Marlboro wants

you to see yourself galloping through the desert, B&H want you to feel

like you are part of an exclusive club - capable of unravelling the

advertising clues and marching into your newsagent to request what

others cannot.



No, B&H’s brand owners should not lose sleep. Instead they should

concentrate on the visual and emotional equities they have worked so

hard to build.



They have far more important visual properties to work with than the

crest which usually appeared right next to the health warning anyway.



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