I recently blogged on the re-branding of Château Laville Haut-Brion, the white wine of Château La Mission Haut-Brion, under the name of “Château La Mission Haut-Brion blanc” (white). In the same movement, Domaine Clarence Dillon, owner of both Château Haut-Brion and Château La Mission Haut-Brion, re-branded the second wine of Haut-Brion, Bahans Haut-Brion, by the name “Clarence de Haut-Brion” and the second white wine of both estates, Les Plantiers, under the new label of “La Clarté de Haut-Brion”.
Those decisions make a lot of sense for a marketer working on brands. Historically, Haut-Brion is the very first luxury wine brand in the world. Names change over the centuries. The re-branding of Laville in “Château La Mission Haut-Brion” blanc is justified by history: from 1928 to 1930, it was the name of the wine and several labels testify of the existence of this name. But this re-branding made a little fuss among wine lovers and drinkers. On the forum of wine-pages.com, a few connoisseurs commented on the decision, thinking some names were disappearing. Yes, of course, the names are disappearing, but not the wines. The wine in the bottle is exactly the same, coming from the terroir of Haut-Brion.
What is the fuss about? While reading the various posts and answers on the forum, I had the strange feeling those great connoisseurs of the French best wines were already nostalgic of the old names. It is very touching to feel this strong link between the brand and the consumer. But the main brand is Haut-Brion: behind those two syllables, there is a world of excellence, tradition and innovation. Haut-Brion was always the first one to go ahead of its time and it keeps doing the same in this second decade of the 21st Century.
Of course, it is always sad for a connoisseur to see an old and cherished name replaced by an other. But this change will make the brand stronger for the next generations: more logical, easier to remember, La Clarté and Le Clarence will help guiding the new consumers towards the greater wines.
A brand has to be able to cross the centuries. In order to do so, it needs to renew itself, to be innovative, to adapt to new times and new trends and reach new consumers. It’s only by innovation linked to tradition that a luxury wine brand will stay alive and create a strong link with new generations of consumers. Long live to historical wine brands!