Every company has a brand. The folks responsible for steering the brand
may have a corporate office but the "deciders" (the folks that really matter) are consumers. JC Penny Co. learned that lesson and this week Michael Francis, the former Target Corp. executive who was tapped to redefine the brand, left the company.
What happened? The consumer was not buying the shift away from "sales events" to steady low prices. And, when you think JC Penny Co. you already have a brand image of..."old" yet "reliable". (My 92 year old Mother loves JC Penny Co. my bride...not so much.) All of that was upset with the new branding effort
To be honest we loved the "new look" of JC Penny Co. with its sleek low clutter print ads. We've always believed "less is best" when it comes to advertising. But looking like Target was not enough. The company made the decision to borrow a Wal-Mart approach and go for...low prices all the time. The "deciders" (those pesky consumers) didn't like it because it went too far...too quick.
Perhaps what JC Penny Co. should have done was look at it's overall brand and make improvements in service, selection and begin a campaign that allowed for a slower transition toward capturing a more youthful, well heeled target demographic.
But, investors don't like to wait...and JC Penny Co. had already waited way too long.
This is a lesson in two ways, 1) Cookie Cutter Branding doesn't work. Looking "cool" isn't enough especially when it's out of touch with your core market and its expectations. 2) Mature brands turn their image like a cruse ship not a speed boat, especially true if you want the consumer to hang on.
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