Restoration Hardware will henceforth be known as RH. The name is part of a larger rebranding that, in the words of CEO Carlos Alberini, “moves us beyond our Hardware store beginnings.” This is not an uncommon ploy: witness Kentucky Fried Chicken’s change to KFC to communicate they were about more than just chicken. In the case of Restoration Hardware though—sorry, RH—we at TippingGardner question how much consumers really associated the brand with “hardware store”, a place you go to get nails, screws, dropcloths, and what have you. In a quick survey of our office, younger staff members expressed surprise and disbelief at the idea that Restoration Hardware was ever considered a simple hardware store.
Perhaps we are quibbling though. The name change is part of a bigger rebrand that, according to spokesman Gary Friedman, is about “curat[ing] a lifestyle beyond the four walls of the home.” But does RH really do a better job of communicating this than Restoration Hardware did?
When renaming an existing brand, you have to balance the pros and cons. (Pro: it gives you a chance to tell a new story. Con: you lose some of the brand equity you have built up). In our opinion, when you are dealing with a brand as well known as Restoration Hardware, you need a pretty compelling reason to change that name. We’re not convinced this fits the bill.