Rebranding is an area where many a company has tried and failed. It’s not about just putting a new logo on a product and calling it a day — it’s about growing and expanding your customer base while still maintaining your core values. Think J.Lo reminding us she’s always Jenny from the Block. Or, in the case of this post, Imperial Leather, manufactured by UK-based PZ Cussons.
Growing up, my grandparents always loved Imperial Leather soaps. While the brand invoked some childhood nostalgia, I didn’t necessarily think of it as a product that I would use myself. Well-acquainted with Imperial Leather's original bar soaps, I thought of it as a traditional, old world brand. So when Imperial Leather got in touch with me and a few of my fellow Accra bloggers (Naa Oyoo Quartey, Jemila Abdulai of Circumspecte, model Laurie Frempong, and Adwoa Asiedu of Love, Adjpants) to discuss how we could partner, I was surprised. What, I thought, could an old-school brand of my grandparents' era possibly want to do with a millennial like me — especially someone like me, who is a student of culture and politics, rather than a traditional lifestyle blogger?
When Stephen Boadi, Head of Digital Marketing, introduced me to Imperial Leather's new range of personal care products, I was astounded by the variety of the new line. Yes, the old classic bar soaps on my grandparents' age remain, but they’ve been complimented by a wide variety of contemporary scents like “Softly Softly” (hints of rose) and “Japanese Spa” (my personal favorite, with its beautiful jasmine fragrance and moisturizing rice milk formula). As I shared some of the other parts of the new improved line, which features body washes, lotions, bar soaps, and deodorants, with friends and families, I heard nothing but positive reviews. Those familiar with their classic bar soap commented on the improved fragrance and lather. With Imperial Leather’s new range, there is something for men and women, young and old. With the new look and feel of the products, these aren’t things you leave languishing at the back of your medicine cabinet — especially their amazing Japanese Spa range — but go-to products for the everyday.
Part of understanding culture and politics and how they shape our evolving global landscape is experiencing cultural shifts. So it was interesting for me to learn more about how Imperial Leather has evolved since its beginning in 1798. As the story goes, a Russian nobleman called Count Orlof commissioned a brand of perfume called 'Eau de Cologne Imperiale Russe' from Bayleys of Bond Street in London. At the time, Russian leather was a high-quality leather with a distinct aroma exported widely from Russia. In 1921, Cussons Sons & Co acquired Bayley and began to use the perfume in a line of scented bath products. Originally called 'Imperiale Russian Leather,' the brand was later renamed Imperial Leather.
While Imperial Leather has traditionally been priced at figures friendly to most people’s pockets, the idea of luxury is in their backbone. With their latest re-launch, the Imperial Leather Ghana team chose to center their marketing campaign around the idea of #LittleLuxuryMoments — making luxury for the everyday. As a firm believer in the idea that everybody should adhere by Donna of Parks and Recreation fame's informal motto "treat yo'self," Imperial Leather's rebranding made me think deeply about the meaning of "luxury."
When you think of the word “luxury” what images come to mind? Ten years ago, it might have been the excess of the MTV and VH1 reality shows of the 2000s era—guilty pleasures like Cribs or The Fabulous Life. For others, it might be the couture houses that rule the runway – Balmain or Dior; however, increasingly, luxury has a different luster.
What if we thought of luxury as self-care? As investing in the everyday icing on the cake. Old-school luxury items like a pair of Louboutins or a Rolls Royce may be prohibitively expensive, but the “new school” of luxury offers a high-quality, stylish experience at a lower price point. Self-care isn’t the domain of the wealthy, but something that can be democratized for the everyday.
On a small fellowship budget in the dumsor days of Ghana, I can tell you personally that a little luxury goes a long way.