How Rolex became the most recognized luxury brand
Rolex positioned the brand to perfectly fit to the aspirations of the modern man
Rolex is without a doubt the super brand of the watch world. An icon, its green logo accompanied with the yellow crown, is recognized all over the world. If you ask any seasoned adventurer what to carry with you to get you out of a tight spot if needed, they will reply, wear a Rolex. If things go south, it can be traded for cash or services everywhere in the world.
This wasn’t always the case. The Rolex brand started its meteoric rise to cult status in the late fifties and never stopped. A combination of superior product quality with a carefully planned marketing strategy catapulted the brand that Hans Wilsdorf created in London in the early 20th century to a luxury juggernaut that is the most recognized luxury brand of our time.
It leveraged influence and the modern man’s aspirations. Rolex was one of the first companies to understand the correct use of ambassadors and influence combined with a clear brand message. Rolex’s advertising campaigns built on that idea of influence and made it personal. It was about you. Your own dreams, your own influence. Pure substance.
“If you climbing here tomorrow, you’d wear a Rolex.”
A campaign that spoke to the modern man of the era. Masterfully depicted in the Mad Men series, the period was about people moving upwards in economic and societal terms. Rolex became synonymous with success. How did they pull it off, though?
From as early as the 20’s Hans Wilsdorf understood that to promote the accomplishments of his wristwatches, he needed the help of recognized champions that would testify to the superior built and capabilities of Rolex watches. In 1927, he did his first PR stand using an ambassador or an influencer, if you will. Mercedes Gleitze, the first English woman to swim the channel, redid her crossing wearing a Rolex Oyster, the first waterproof watch at the time. Mercedes was featured in many subsequent Rolex Oyster ads that helped the brand gain traction pre WWII.