Today the Netherlands is in orange-mania with the inauguration of the new king Willem-Alexander I and his queen Maxima. Monarchy may seem like an antiquated institution, but the press surrounding various royal events (William and Kate’s wedding in 2011, Queen Elizabeth’s diamond jubilee in 2012) show that there is still a place for it in modern society. Perhaps one of the reasons for the relative success of these old institutions is the modern way in which they represent themselves: the royals have become more than a family, they have become a brand.
A strong brand identity
A strong royal brand has a clear visual identity and clear principles for which it stands. Where the Windsor brand is strengthened by the strong graphics of the British flag, the Dutch royal family has a strong colour that is associated to them: orange! The ex-queen of the Netherlands, Princess Beatrix, has also strengthened the Orange brand by appearing as an icon herself. Her hairstyle, designed by Alexandre de Paris in the 1960s, is consistent and iconic and helps create a powerful appearance. The consistency in her hairstyle, her gestures and her clothing style also help emphasize the consistency that a monarchy brings.
Royal families are not like reality TV-stars or other celebrities. Although various members of royal families make regular public appearances, interviews and information about their private lives remains limited. The marketing of the royal brand primarily occurs during events that align with or complement their brand image. These events include weddings, jubilees and, in the Netherlands, Queensday. In the course of the years Queensday has complemented Beatrix’s image (who is sometimes perceived as detached and formal) by injecting friendliness and informality to the royal brand. This year the sport event for all elementary school children fits with the athletic interests of Willem-Alexander.
A brand that belongs to everyone
However, the most important aspect of the royal brand is that it is a brand that belongs to entire country – it is part of a cultural heritage. For this year’s inauguration of Willem-Alexander different stores and brands have all created ‘orange’ campaigns. The royal family has to represent a nation, and in doing so it must allow that the royalty brand is a co-creation. The Dutch royal family embraces this co-creation on Queensday. The concept behind this day is that everyone can celebrate it how they want to and the local traditions of this celebration are always emphasized in the towns where the queen comes to visit.