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Archive for October, 2008

Seriously, take your butt over to your local book store and pick up the latest issue of the Harvard Business Review On Point: “Growing Your Business in a Downturn”. Unfortunately the HBR doesn’t post articles online for free very much, so you really have to got to buy it. It’s worth every penny of the $16.95 cover price. It’s like getting an MBA in a bite-sized package.

My fave articles in this issue have to do with how discounting hurts your brand over the long run, how you should manage your brand for your long-term vision (and not quarterly), and how not to get too comfy sitting on your laurels even if you are number 1. Case studies mention Nike, Levi’s, and others. It’s pretty heady stuff, but I know you can handle it.  Enjoy!

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This is a sad tale of an illicit love affair. It all began innocently enough. I was at a department store and happened upon a really sweet, sexy bag. Oh yeah—this baby had just the right of leather, buckles, hardware and compartments to get my motor running. I loved it, and was about to plunk down some hard- won greenbacks for it, but no dice: my eyes spotted the huge logo tag on the side, upon which were inscribed the fateful words “Jessica Simpson”. Though I was madly in love with the bag, I had to put it down and walked away, heart-broken.

You see, the crowd I run with here in Seattle tends to be a little on the high-brow side, and a logo’d Jessica Simpson bag would be the end of my street cred.  I’m sure Jessica Simpson is a great gal, and I’m sure she’d be fun to hang with, but the negative public perception imparted upon the poor Ms. Simpson from her reality TV Show “Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica”  continues to exist, whether she likes it or not.

How can Jessica fix this problem? Well, I would have bought that bag if the name and logo had been subtle or cryptic. If you want to tell me on the hang tag that the bag is a Jessica Simpson creation, that’s fine. I just don’t want to shout it out to the world when I’m walking down the street. I want a bag that can become part of my iconic personal style, but not an extension of Jessica Simpson’s unfortunate negative public perception.

Dear Jessica, if you’re out there, please know that I love your stuff and even own a sweet pair of your shoes. But in the meantime, I think we need to work on your product branding. Because I’m sure I’m not the only gal who walked away from your sweet bag.

A celebrity fashion label that gets it right is William Rast. Obviously we all know by now that this is Justin Timberlake’s creation, but because the name is a made-up character, it allows the wearer to create a personal identity with the brand. This is ultimately what you want for your brand: for your customers to fill it in with their own wonderful associations. Set the tone, give them direction, but let their imagination run wild.

And hopefully you’ll be on your way to smashing success.

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I love Roland Mouret’s prophetic take on how luxury brands must evolve in order to survive. It sounds a lot like going back to indie designer roots. Indie designers, take heart. You’re in a unique position to change the future of fashion. Rock on.

Read Roland’s prophetic vision: “The Shape of Things to Come“, an interview with WSJ magazine.

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Coach, regarded by some as the “McDonald’s” of luxury brands, may be experiencing some discomfort in the down-market looming on American retail. In an effort to distinguish its brand from the high-end Louis Vuittons of the world and go for the mass consumer with “approachable”  (yet gauche) aspirational logo branding and “approachable luxury” pricing, it may have unwittingly positioned itself to experience lackluster sales often felt by mass market brands in a soft economy. Can this situation be turned around?

Read about it here:

“Coach on the Edge” by Nancy Hass

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