Behind Indonesian fashion giant Sorabel’s rebrand to shed its ‘sale stock’ past

Sorabel rebrands as it grows verticals and mulls new markets

Indonesian online fashion retailer Sorabel has rebranded to shed itself of its ‘sale stock’ former name as it considers new markets and diversifies into new product lines.

Sorabel is one of the biggest fashion e-commerce brands in Indonesia, an e-commerce market set to be worth USD$65 billion, with 40 million online shoppers in the next three years. The brand rose to prominence on value but it tasked design agency JKR with a new brand image as it looks to become a lifestyle brand.

Speaking to The Drum after the rebrand, Jeff Yuwono, chief executive of Sorabel, says that a move into cosmetics was already paying off but it had plans to expand into new verticals.

“Sorabel is growing rapidly, from just fashion to a complete fashion lifestyle. Our cosmetics and skin care grew 13x in 2018 compared to 2017, and we are experimenting with new verticals. We will launch at least 10 private labels this year, with each private label representing a specific fashion point of view. To complete our product offering, we will also onboard popular brands like Airwalk and Diadora,” he explains.

The new direction will also see the brand invest in local designers and content, adding to its lifestyle image, says Yuwono: “Another big initiative is to collaborate with local designers, celebrities and influencers and co-create collections. The idea is to marry their fashion styles with our efficient supply chain; they do the fun stuff, we do the heavy lifting."

He adds: "We will also develop editorial content, so we are not simply a store but also a fashion lifestyle portal. Because we are the largest women’s fashion e-commerce in Indonesia, we have the most complete view of what is trending and we want to share that knowledge with customers.”

The first step, however, was to shake off the old image as Yuwono says that the brand had evolved since its launch in 2014.

“In order to increase our share of the market, we had to rebrand. The name ‘Sale Stock’ created perceptions that we sold leftover or rejected sales items and it was difficult to change those perceptions. We want an identity that reflects who we really are; an affordable and up-to-date fashion portal for all Indonesians,” he says.

To do this JKR developed a new brand identity that was more instantly recognisable, and one that is consistent across all the brand's offline touchpoints, including the packaging, using a monogram of SB. Online, the brand is a bit more ‘muted’ with a toned down color selection, which helps the products to stand out.

The name came from the name ‘Soraya’ which was the name given to the chat feature of the website. The name was evolved to Sorabel, which is a personification of ‘your best friend in fashion’.

Katie Ewer, head of strategy for JKR, said working with an e-commerce company allowed the brand to test concepts and get feedback quickly.

“Despite rapid advances in technology over the last ten years, as consumers, we’re still operating with reptilian brains – we’re hard-wired to notice the difference, and we dislike thinking," she explains.

"That means the importance of a strong brand idea and a distinctive identity system are as important for a tech startup as they are for a bank, beer or box of cereal. We put a huge focus on these, no matter what the brand, category or channel."

She continues: "What’s perhaps different with a young digital brand is an ability we had to test concepts with customers and move quickly to adjust and improve throughout the process. We tested two design options online with Sorabel customers and were able to roll out the final designs quickly because most of the brand’s touch-points are digital. That kind of agility is not something we see a lot of with our established FMCG clients."

Once the idea of creating a human element to the brand, by establishing it as a best friend, Ewer says a ‘manifesto’ for this became the focus for the entire process.

“What we then did was give the idea dimension, figuring out ‘how would a best friend speak? what would they do? How would they speak to you, support you, listen to you and guide you?’ she asks.

"The manifesto we wrote was designed to bring the best friend idea to life and it was very influential in guiding brand identity (a personal signature forms the core logo), brand behavior (tone of voice, the way the brand offers advice) and even the brand’s relaunch TVC (which celebrates the relationship between two best friends).”

The new branding will also help the brand break into new markets as Yowono says growing internationally isn’t a matter of if, but when. He says the brand’s mission is to help the world feel more confident, happy and beautiful, and by being people’s best friend in fashion is a step toward that.

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