PPR, the multinational holding company that is home to brands including Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, Brioni and Sergio Rossi, is rebranding as Kering, indicative of a transformation from French conglomerate to internationally focused sportswear (encompassing its brands including Puma, Tretorn and Volcom) and luxury-goods group.
The new name, accompanied by an owl logo and tagline, "Empowering Imagination," is pronounced "caring." CEO Francois-Henri Pinault explains, "We are there to care for the brand and take care of the brand," the Wall Street Journal reports.
Pinault carries on his father’s legacy as founder with the new name, which a press release explains was inspired by family roots in France's Brittany region as "Ker" meaning home in Breton, with the action-associated "ing" implying "doing" and "going."
Manfredi Ricca, the managing director at Interbrand in Milan, commented to the International Herald Tribune that the new identity reflects an awareness that companies need “a strong angle on what they stand for,” both for consumers and for employees, to demonstrate their “overarching vision” and values.
With PPR, he added, “I think it’s a case where the name needs to tell the story of the business. The former name contained things that are no longer relevant to the group.”
“Changing our identity is the logical and necessary outcome of the Group’s transformation,” Pinault told DesignWeek. “More than just the change in scope or activity that this new name reflects, it expresses the Group’s new identity and our corporate culture.” Dragon Rouge led the change on brand strategy and Havas Lifestyle created the name, visual identity and new website which will be presented for approval at an annual general meeting June 18.
In Chinese characters, the company will be Kai Yun, connoting good luck. “Kering is a name with a meaning, a name that expresses both our purpose and our corporate vision,” Pinault said. “The fact that Kering means 'dried' in Indonesian, completely escaped us,” he added.
The accompanying ad campaign will focus on broadcast and social media including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Vimeo, Sina Weibo and Youku and through collaboration with fashion blogger, Garance Doré, beginning April 2, will present videos translated into five languages portraying “the Group’s distinctive way of nourishing the imagination of its brands.”
A recent New York Times profile of Pinault, better known in some circles for being married to actress Salma Hayek, chronicles his tough business decisions and bold and controversial moves, such as firing Nicolas Ghesquière as creative director at Balenciaga.
“Nicolas built Balenciaga over 15 years—he reanimated it. He projected an absolutely incredible modernity onto a traditional brand. But there comes a time, often when a brand has matured, when it needs to broaden its scope and its artistic vocabulary and that’s when you need to ask yourself if it’s time for something else.”
Pinault replaced Ghesquière with Alexander Wang.
When Pinault assumed the reins from his father in 2003, Gucci, led by Tom Ford and Domenico De Sole, was losing money and prestige and impacting companion brands YSL and Bottega Veneta. Pinault cut them loose in 2004 at a time when, “Everything was ‘Tom Ford for Gucci,’ ‘YSL by Tom Ford.' The brands were smothered by Ford, and Domenico agreed to it,” notes the Times.
“That was the toughest time for him in the business—Tom Ford was a very big star,” said Jean-François Palus, group managing director, of Pinault's decision to part ways with Ford. “He analyzed where Gucci had gone off course and made sure it would never happen again by undoing everything Ford had put in place. Each brand would be run separately from now on and no designer would ever be bigger than the brand again.”
In 2011, PPR’s luxury brands grew 22 percent to nearly €5 billion euros with profits up 34 percent to €1.3 billion euros. “François-Henri Pinault was not given a toy to play with,” said Thomas Chauvet, luxury-goods analyst at Citigroup in the Times. “He is the one who successfully refocused the group. Until recently PPR’s stock was unloved and misunderstood.” Now, present in more than 120 countries, the Group generated revenues of €9.7 billion in 2012 and employs 33,000 people.
Palus, former Arthur Andersen auditor and long-time friend of his boss Pinault, are a dynamic duo. “Colleagues say the two understand each other very well and that their private meetings contain a lot of humour and jokes," notes the Financial Times.
Pinault is looking for designers who are “young,” “modern,” “cosmopolitan” and “commercial.” After showing a very brief video unveiling the new name and logo in black and white, Pinault quipped, "That took more than one year of work—when I see that, it's frustrating, no?" adding that the owl which inspired the new look is his father’s favorite animal. "He always has them on his desk."