Rebranding like a girl: What we can learn from Vera Bradley

By: Andrea Mellendorf



At the 2016 PRSSA National Conference, I had the awesome opportunity to attend a session about corporate rebranding, led by Holly Wagner from Vera Bradley. Now, if you’ve ever seen me around campus or been in my apartment, you’ve probably noticed that I’m a huge Vera fan, so of course I was not going to pass up the opportunity to hear from one of my favorite brands. What I expected to be a presentation that piqued my interest because of the brand itself, turned into some of the most valuable rebranding lessons ever shared with me.

In her presentation, Holly highlighted some really important key points to keep in mind when developing, redeveloping and critiquing your brand. These are things that her team discussed, discovered and took to heart during the “It’s Good to be a Girl” campaign sponsored by Vera Bradley that launched in August. Here are a few:

  • You are never just marketing to your target audience—you are marketing to everyone and hoping it reaches the target audience in an effective way.
  • Want to be relevant? Better be engaging with millennials.
  • Drive your brand visibility through multiple platforms and opportunities.
  • Engage, engage, engage! Loyal stakeholders are created through engagement.
  • Create social energy surrounding your brand.

In addition to these key tidbits, Holly mentioned more than once that “everything has a beautiful solution.” She used this phrase in reference to the problems that the rebrand was trying to address. Though they were indeed problems, Holly’s team elected to look at them as opportunities that held the potential to have a beautiful, better and fruitful solution. As an up-and-coming practitioner, this positivity during times of change or adaptation is one that I look forward to bringing to my workplace.

In the presentation, rebranding was also described as “an evolution, not a revolution.” So often, brands lose every element of their genuine selves while attempting to reinvent their product, service or social strategy, which in the end confuses, upsets or loses the attention of stakeholders. Vera Bradley viewed their rebrand as an evolution of their brand as they grow to the next big thing.

So not only is Vera Bradley a company that sells adorable and practical backpacks and accessories for me as a college student, they also provide top-notch lessons in rebranding and public relations to me as a student. I look forward to someday entering a career with an awesome Vera bag and useful knowledge of rebranding!

Andrea Mellendorf is a senior and serves as the Chapter President for EMU PRSSA. She previously has served as the Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Special Events and Programs for EMU PRSSA, and as an intern for the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum. Andrea currently is the Social Media Operator for The Honors College where she manages their Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and for the College of Arts and Sciences, where she manages their Facebook and Twitter. Connect with Andrea on Twitter – @AndreaMell!


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