John Lewis is a British institution. The department store arrived on the UK high street in 1864 and has become one of Britain’s best-loved brands: in 2017, it topped both YouGov’s BrandIndex poll (which measures consumer perceptions of quality, value for money and satisfaction) and its Employer Brand Reputation Survey. The launch of its annual Christmas film has become a national event – one that is met with almost as much frenzied excitement as surprise album drops and the return of cult TV shows – and is now as much a part of the festive season as turkey lunches and mince pies. It is generally regarded as a brand for people who care about good customer service and is famously popular with affluent shoppers. The same is true of its sister brand Waitrose – a supermarket so posh, it spawned a parody Twitter account sharing middle class-isms overheard in its stores.
But these are tough times for retailers – and even long-established, much-loved brands are having to reassess what they stand for. Just last month, House of Fraser announced it would be closing 31 stores while Debenhams issued its third profit warning in 12 months. In June, the John Lewis Partnership – the employee-owned company that operates John Lewis and Waitrose – announced that the group’s profits would be close to zero for the first half of 2018.
This week – just a day after Debenhams unveiled a new visual identity designed by Mother – John Lewis revealed new visual identities for the Partnership and its two retail brands, designed by London studio Pentagram.
The retail brands will now be known as John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners. This is the first time the partnership model has been directly referenced in either brand’s logo – putting the focus on the 85,000 staff who have a say in the running of the business and receive an annual share of profits.