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Rolex brand audit

A brand audit of the luxury jewelry and watch brand, Rolex, based on semiotic analysis, branding theory, and supported by small-scale market research.

Stephanie Christofferson

on 12 May 2015

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Transcript of Rolex brand audit

The image of the sky
Title on the image of the sky OYSTER PERPETUAL SKY-DWELLER
watch on the sky background
hands on the clock are moving and we are moving forward in the sky
Rolex is filmed flat in front, we're zooming into it
the image of the plane flying in perspective
image of Rolex from same angle, then Rolex is turning
sky reflected in Rolex
image of Sun, Moon and Earth turning
everything slows down, zoom on the crown, the 30, 1
hands of the watch are moving and the watch is filmed from different angles
reflection of a woman in the watch
perspective on the sky from an airplane window
person turning the watch
inside mechanism turning
Rolex in the sky
zoom on the crown
again the title with the Rolex logo underneath and the sky as a background
Man's voice telling us a story with the music in the background.
The story is: For those who travel the world this is the sky dweller. The first Rolex with two time zones and annual calendar that discreetly shows the passage of the months. At the heart of the movement lies a revolutionary planetary mechanism inspired by the alignment of sand, moon and earth. It enables the sky-dwellers to know the difference between the 3O and 31day month.To display the two time zones simultaneously, the sky-dweller combines the jumping hour hand to easily adjust the local time. With a 24 hour disc for keeping the track of time back home. To operate the sky-dwellers functions, Rolex have engineered an interface of elegance and simplicity, the ring command. Turning the dial lets you select the date, local time or reference time for setting. Only Rolex can make such complexity so elegantly simple.
Brand Inventory
Analysis: semiotic & brand theory
Market research
Brand cultures
Brand exploration
Conclusions & recommendations
Achievement & Performance
Extreme & Masculine
Founded 1905, London
Headquartered in Switzerland

Green: prosperity, money, sophistication
White bed: like an oyster shell with a pearl
Treasure box

Crown: royalty, nobility
5 fingers: hands, achievement
Pearls: ocean reference, treasure
Gold: royalty, riches
Deep green: prosperity, sophistication, life

“hoROLogical EXcellence” = ROLEX
Significations of letter X

Graduate student (female), age 31
Achievement, graduation gift passed down from father
Wears every day
Graduate student (female), age 22
Milestone, entering adulthood, gift
Wears every day
Rapper (male), age 27
Achievement, self-bought for career advancement - sign of newfound wealth
Wears on certain occasions (fashion and image driven)
Businessman (male) age 60
Achievements, self-bought and from business partners
Wears every day but wears the more expensive ones for nicer occasions
Timelessness & History
“A crown for every achievement.
“Lost in time.”
“Rolex. For life’s defining moments.”


Roger Federer, Tiger Woods, David Beckham
Deep sea
Deep sea photographers, inventors, explorers

Eric Clapton, Placido Domingo (conductor)
Political leaders

Martin Luther King Jr., JFK
Notable lack of celebrities

All spokespeople create or achieve using their hands
Digital Presence
Reflects brand through colors & theme

Facebook (somewhat active)
YouTube (very active)
Pinterest (not active)
NO Instagram or Twitter: "timeless"...or behind the times?

Organization into parts
Correspondence between parts
Integration of parts/synthesis
Social myths & ideology
Brand Values
Black and white image
Man wearing a watch, sleeve infers formal wear, holding champagne flute
Woman's hand touching watch, from below, trailing off
A lot of text
Above photo: "We invented the Submariner to work perfectly 660 feet under the sea. It seems to work pretty well at any level.
Text below photo: "The Rolex Submariner is a salty watch. It's the official watch for divers of the Royal Navy. That beefed-up Oyster case resists pressures down to 660 feet. You'll find it in the cockpits of most ocean racers as hard-driving skippers beat down to Bermuda, Hobart, and the Fastnet Rock. How come it's seen so much where the wettest thing around is a dry Martini? Who knows. Maybe it's because the black dial goes so well with a black tie. Ask her. Maybe she knows.
Logo below text, small
Slogan below logo: When a man has a world in his hands, you expect to find a Rolex on his wrist.
Text blends in with photo, is not separated in any way; wraps around woman's hand
Very small below is the information for Rolex, including cities Rolex is sold in
Sex & sexuality
Black & white = timeless
Implies that the watch works for any kind of performance - from deep sea diving to sex
Sexual/masculine connotations throughout text: salty, beefed-up, cockpits, hard-driving, beat down, wettest thing around, "Ask her. Maybe she knows."
Both image and text connote high performance, excellence, desire, and exclusivity. The tagline implies that a man wearing a Rolex is a man who has everything. The fact that the woman is touching the watch, and not the man, implies that she desires the watch, and therefore the man wearing it. Hands are very sensual and connote creation, masculinity, achievement, as well as sexuality. The champagne associates the watch with luxury, expensive, exclusivity. There is no frame per se, just blackness; the woman's hand seems to be coming from the bottom of the frame, from below, connoting sinfulness and temptation pulling the Rolex man down; his arm is straight across the photo, like a bar or lever for her to pull.
Man vs. woman
Naked vs. clothed
Inanimate vs. human
Text vs. images
White vs. black
Sacred vs. profane
Strength vs. softness
Possession vs. desire
Image and text
Foreground (woman's hand and watch) and background (man's hand and champagne)
Dark background and highlighted objects
Woman's hand, man's hand
The man and the woman (background and foreground) are connected by the watch. The dark and the light are similarly united by the watch, which is one of the only objects featuring both dark and light. The reflection on the champagne glass mimics the reflection on the watch face. The text is black and white, reflecting the image. The woman seems to be pulling the man down, grabbing for him, while he holds his arm (and Rolex) firmly straight, not responsive to her touch.
The woman's hand is naked, while the man's is clothed; it is also reaching from below, outside the frame. This symbolizes temptation and desire for the watch and therefore the man. The watch is depicted as the object of desire, and the man as the owner of this object. In a way this represents phallic symbolism: the man as an owner of an object of desire, the woman desirous of it and by extension him. The champagne and suit infer luxury, and associate the man with wealth and the watch with high class. They are all signs that he is important. The way his arm is straight and her hand is fluid represents hardness and masculinity against softness and femininity.
Lust, desire, sexiness, sensuality
Exclusivity, high class
Excellence, achievement, ownership, handiwork, performance
Timelessness, innovation, art
Sanctity, religion, life
Intrinsic (emotion)
Michelangelo's "The Creation of Adam"
God breathes life into Adam
The watch is inserted between the hands, making it a significant object: the watch represents "life", the connection between man and woman, sex
Associates with sanctity, life, religion, but also innovation, art, renaissance, timelessness, science

Rolex is for the risk-takers, the ground-breakers, those who dare to go where no others have.
They reach new depths and new heights, achieve milestones untouched.
They are leaders. Rolex is worn by the best, and Rolex is the best.
The achievements and firsts of its wearers reflect Rolex's own resume of firsts in technical innovation. Rolex is more than performance: it is class, sophistication, elegance.
Brand Asset Valuator
People are familiar with the brand
Attach emotional values
Global recognition, one of the most recognized luxury watch/jewelry brands
Rolex is well regarded and respected. Rolex is a category leader.
sporting events (tennis tournaments)
"Rolex is the brand of luxury watches that demonstrates status and sophistication because of its groundbreaking, handcrafted quality."
To those with purchasing power

Is not relevant to young population unless they are professional athletes, working. or receive a Rolex as a gift

Plays on the embeddedness of white men power in society

1700 models and 3 200 combinations
Create a higher value for its watches by making recognizable,higher-quality time pieces inspired by the dynamism and ambition in upper class sports.
The first to make watches that work underwater and change the date on the dial automatically.

First certified chronometer
First waterproof and dustproof watch casing
First wrist watch with an automatic changing date

Melo & DeLencastre
: values generate stories generate symbols
Achievement --> winning --> crown
: the universal power of mythology
: juxtaposition & transference
Rolex and sports, politics, underwater
Totemism - using Rolex to craft identity and forge differentiation
: sacralization, envious of future self
Milestone, achievement, the successful Rolex man who achieves and earns
: leadership campaign
Rolex as "the best"
: individual/group paradox
Numerous combinations for style, customization, upgrades
Hundreds of models to pick from...but all Rolex
: consumption = identity
By wearing a Rolex, you are making a statement about who you are: successful, wealthy, powerful, good taste
Material vs Immaterial
Sky (space) vs Rolex
In vs Out of space
Speed vs
Text vs. images
Music vs.voice
Sacred vs. profane
Complexity vs simplicity
Inside vs outside (plane and watch)
Organization into parts
Image, music, voice
Foreground (eg watch) and background (sky)
Global perspective vs zoomed objects
Moving vs static objects
Correspondence between parts
Rolex lets you travel in time but also above time. Time as well as space is reflected in Rolex. It gives ou a global perspective while being perfect in details (inside). It reflects the forces and relations out of space, as well as on Earth (showing planets, sky, view inside and outside of plane).
Integration of parts/synthesis
Rolex appears on the background of moving sky as a static object. It is showcased as being bigger than the sky. The images of Sun, Moon and Earth that folow, emphasise that Rolex is connected to Universe and works universally, while keeping you unique (local) and specific. This watch is only for Time-Dwellers (luxury).
As Rolex dispays different time zones, the publicity shows different angles of shooting. As the sky is reflected on the
interface, it suggests that Rolex reflects infinity.
Brand Values
Universality, luxury
Excellence, achievement, ownership, handiwork, performance
Timelessness, innovation, art
Sanctity, religion, life
Intrinsic (emotion)
Exclusivity, high class
Social myths & ideology
Plato, in the Timaeus, identified time with the period of motion of the heavenly bodies, and space as that in which things come to be. Aristotle, in Book IV of his Physics, defined time as the number of changes with respect to before and after, and the place of an object as the innermost motionless boundary of that which surrounds it.

Speed, Distance, Time, Modernity
Time-space compression, fascination with technological innovations
Technology is the link between men and the heavens
flying was for a long time only associated to Gods (Ikarus)
With the rise of consumerism and mass media the notion of time appears. The “now” becomes relevant, as opposed to time as progress
Positioning statement:
Technology: a threat to Rolex as innovator
Market research: lack of association with sports

Rolex Saint Germain
Exclusive, appointments, doorbell, like a club
Catered individual experience, exclusive, air of arrogance from shopkeepers
Sitting at a table - like a business meeting
Shape, architecture, and colors reflect watch - mechanical parts, smooth vs. hard, metal and light

Rolex makes history.
Rolex is for the powerful.
Rolex is the best.
New models, not new products
Tudor (new product, cheaper version) failed in 2013
Rolex: high in strength, high in stature. Category leader.
Apple Watch
Wearable tech
Western aspiration
Imagery of crown reaches beyond the West
Rolex: prestige-oriented brand
50 responses through social media
70% female, 30% male
Majority Western 18-24
90% saw a Rolex as a milestone or achievement marker rather than a gift or personal fashion purchase
Most would either buy a Rolex for themselves, or expect one passed down from a family member
Rolex as a person: middle-aged or older businessman who is wealthy and succesful, well-dressed and well-traveled, and likes to demonstrate elegant, sophisticated taste
Free word associations: money-related words were most common (expensive, rich, money, gold, wealth) followed by adjectives describing superiority (luxury, achievement, status, sophistication, elegant, classy)
Animal associations: lion was most common; also many predatory masculine cats - jaguar, tiger, panther
Conciousness among respondents about price and status, and how wearing a Rolex communicates these things (they either do or do not want a Rolex because to them it symbolizes wealth and status)
Structured word association:
Rolex is: luxurious, classic, high quality
Rolex is not: innovative, technological, sporty
If Rolex was an animal...
If Rolex was a person...
Rapper, 27, Northern California
MA student, 31, Southern US/South America
MA student, 22, Middle East/France
Businessman, 60, Seattle
Milestone, family, gift
Worn every day
Achievement, status, self-bought
Assessed consumer perceptions and associations
50 responses, largely Western aged 18-24
Cartier: focuses more on watches as jewelry, a fashion accessory
Omega: hybrid strategy between Rolex and Cartier, but focuses on precision/technology
Apple Watches: entirely tech driven, compete indirectly (in their own, new category of wearable tech)
Rolex is still a category leader. But can it stay dominant?
Focus on art and fashion
Emphasize history and quality
Capitalize on rising feminism: strong, female power
Address hip hop world's affinity for Rolex
Reevaluate digital presence

Talia Bishara, Stephanie Christofferson, Bakht Malik, Eliza Ragač
Headquarters (Swizterland)
CEO Jean-Frédéric Dufour
Rolex-sponsored racing yacht
Potential consumers
Target: affluent white males over 35
1,000+ watches
$7.4 billion 2012
Full transcript