Wheres the viking spirit?

The latest incarnation of Pandora is all soft and warm, and a little bit more engaging for the consumer. Well done whoever has spear-headed this and the traction around the likes of ‘Charm Academy’ and ‘Street of Love’ which are even better and braver.

However remaining with the new direction for the store portfolio, while more engaging, I’m just not convinced and feel it falls short. Cosy, zoned, lots of things under glass yes, but cover over the Pandora name and it could be Monica Vinader, Annoushka or Swarovski Crystal Studio. If the brief was to ‘create a jewellery shop’, its achieved that but only that.

Where’s the Viking spirit? Not the one-dimensional plundering warrior (don’t think that would translate!), but the verse, prose, art, and incredible ‘exploration’ (long before Columbus). Or cherry-picking names as long as my arm of possible Danish creative references, the likes of the renowned design skills of Arne Jacobsen and his pure simplicity, joy of form, and totally imaginative use of materials? Or Per Enevoldsen and Winnie Liljeborg themselves (the entrepreneurial Founders of the brand), or throw in a bit of Thai inspiration into the mix (Pandora’s original crafting facility)?…

And then there’s the dilemma of the proposition, still leading with charms…since about 2000 I think. Ok, the idea of personalisation was ahead of its time and is still cool, but not cool enough on its own. Is Burberry a brand just offering trench-coats? (oh, by-the-way, nice one Riccardo Tisci), or think Hermes and does saddlery instantly come to mind?

I’m sure many hours of strategy and design thought, process, even sweat & tears- and money- went into this. I know this from experience, and likewise know from experience I don’t always get it pitch-perfect. But I’m not sure in this instance that someone re-launched the longship and with brave vision, speed and navigation steered it to new lands beyond their wildest imaginings.

I call out Pandora (apologies P!), and fully respect its incredible journey, visionary financial backers, and the worldwide commercial trajectory its achieved, but my observations using Pandora as an example really applies to the current wider world of jewellery retailing. Where many appear to have just got, well, a bit stuck… For about 100,000+ years jewellery has been an ‘expression in material’ (faith, love, status, style, and also simply for functional purposes through to more extreme body modification), and an important means of recording history. But has this become ‘samey’ and stagnant in: proposition; brand narrative; story-telling; and customer experience. Championing brave ambitions and differentials has to be the way forward for high street and high end jewellery brands, actually many global retail brands, where their single focussed and meteoric success could also be their shackles and even downfall. I hope after what should now be their busiest month of trade (December), many reflect and consider new brave visions. Then hopefully in the coming years, not reliant on Christmas alone to bring some commercial cheer.