A Triumph of brand rejuvenation

The re-launch of Triumph motorcycles is a great example of brand rejuvenation. A surge in bike sales boosted 2016/17 revenues +22% to £499 million, with pre-tax profits growing by almost 50% (year to June 30, 2017). Almost 90% of sales are international, including the key US market. Only two years ago it was at breakeven as it emerged from years of restructuring. (1)

Below I look at some of the learning from the brand turn-around.

1. Remember what made you famous …

Triumph motorcycles is a brand with a rich heritage. The bikes have played a starring role in numerous iconic movies, with perhaps the most famous being Steve McQueen jumping to freedom on his Triumph in The Great Escape. The brand was associated with being British, rugged, powerful and authentic.

The brand also had some powerful and distinctive brand properties which. These included the Triumph logo and the Bonneville model, named after the salt flats where world land speed record attempts takes place.

2. … refresh what made you famous

Triumph has refreshed its key brand properties to be relevant for today. The visual identity has been simplified and modernised, whilst keeping the distinctive curve joining the R and the H (see below)

The iconic Bonneville model has also been refreshed, having actually gone out of production for a while. The 2018 version has taken many of the distinctive features of the original and carefully updated them.

Communication in 2018 plays on the 59 year anniversary of the Bonneville’s orginal launch in 1959.

3. Create consumer connection

In addition to refreshing the product and visual identity, Triumph’s marketing program has been revitalised. The brand makes creative use of a number of different channels to connect with current and prospective customers:

  • Movie placement has continued, including a starring role in Jurassic World. This exposure has created “a noticeable uptick of interest at the dealer level”, according to Steve Bidlack, Executive Director of Client Services for Triumph Motorcycles America (2).
  • Merchandising: the brand has built partnerships to produce licensed clothing, including an alliance with denim company Lucky Brand in the US. “The deal with Lucky Brand has been great,” according to North American CEO Greg Heichelbech, gaining broader visibility for the brand at a relatively low cost (3).
  • Customer experience: The Triumph Visitor Centre brings the brand story to life as an immersive experience.  Vistors can seen how the motorcycles are made, get up close to some of the most iconic Triumphs of all time, and enjoy a priceless collection of motorcycle memorabilia.

4. Sort the business model

All the good marketing Triumph has done would have been futile without the hard graft on the business model carried out by owner John Bloor, a housebuilding magnate, and his son Nick, the CEO. This work included re-configuring the manufacturing to get costs down. Whilst 30% of the bikes are still made in Hinckley in the UK, where the 250-strong design and development team is based, the rest of the production is done in Thailand, Brazil and India.

Triumph has also re-designed the supply chain to boost ‘physical availability’. In the all important North American market, the outdated logistics department was closed and inventory management out-sourced to UPS. The ability to supply dealers with the right product went from 50% to 99%. The company also opened a  customer service operation available 24/7 365 days a year. These changes helped increase the number of dealers from 165 to 225, contributing to a growth in annual revenue from $74 to $184 million (3).

In conclusion, Triumph is a great example of how to rejuvenate a brand, by refreshing what made you famous and working not only on marketing, but also on the business model too.

thebrandgym boast a wealth of experience when it comes to providing support to the world’s leading brands on their rejuvenation projects. Find out how your company benefit from the global brand strategy consultancy.


(1) https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/overseas-sales-help-triumph-motorcycles-pick-up-speed-00k9f0kvp?shareToken=4a3abaf51323b5be71c961b4f4c33a4d

(2) http://brandchannel.com/2015/06/24/triumph-jurassic-world-062415/

(3) http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/triumph-motorcycles-rise-fall-revival-icon