They’re not just royals; they’re marketers.

What we can learn from the Sussexes about evolving a brand identity

Anyone with a pulse knows that Millennials rule the world. In Britain, they rule, literally, as Princes William and Harry, firmly planted in the most digitally savvy generation of our time, have led the charge to boost the Royals’ digital presence on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. What’s next? Queen Elizabeth flossing on TikTok?

And now, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, have created their own brand, Sussex Royal, complete with a beautifully designed website and an artfully curated Instagram account with 11 million followers.

As the Sussexes attempt to consciously uncouple from their Royal duties and focus on their own brand full-time, the Royal Family, known informally as “the firm,” because it is very much a business, is bracing itself for how the departure of its most influential brand ambassador will affect the Royal brand. To us, this isn’t news. It’s the life of a marketer.

We know this challenge well. Brand identity is crucial in building brand awareness and likeability. When there’s a threat to brand safety, the PR team is jolted into crisis mode. We imagine that’s what’s going on in “the firm” as we speak. Over in Buckingham Palace, in a chandeliered room with gilded curtains and centuries-old art, there’s a Zoom meeting about how to maintain the integrity of the Royal Family brand.

The Queen did issue a statement, suggesting they will not be competitive brands but strategic partners. Our advice to the Royal Family would be to stay relevant in the digital landscape, be forward-thinking in terms of digital technologies, and do a deep dive into consumer behavior, especially regarding Millennials. Because as we’ve seen from the topic at hand, they can be unpredictable.

To us, this is a classic example of a tried and true brand struggling with the contemporary landscape. The unpredictability is what scares them. But on some level brands have to lean into it. In a dynamic environment, you have to be comfortable with constant change. Which is antithetical to the Queen’s brand. If we were the agency of record for the Royal Family, we would advise them to keep an open mind. Harry and Meghan are going to show them the way forward. And if they give them some leeway and don’t completely abandon them or keep them at arm’s length, in the end, the entire Royal brand will be stronger for it.