It’s not unusual for me to stumble across a news article and form an elaborate thought cloud – I do that once in a while. So when I was talking to a good friend of mine about the bold plan of action that William L. McCombs had for Liz Claiborne, I didn’t think much of it. However, that changed after this friend of mine said I was weird. Yes, WEIRD. I’ll be honest, when I initially heard this, I was caught off guard and confused. Since I was curious as to why something so random came out of his mouth, I simply asked him and he said, “You have all these marketing interests.” The conversation was followed by a brief silent pause. Apparently having marketing interests makes a person weird. That’s cool. I’d much rather be called weird for having an interest in that than having a hobby like collecting stamps (sorry, no offense). =)
In retrospect, I guess my friend was just being observant. For a long while now, I have somehow formed a habit of thinking about pretty much everything from a marketing perspective or at least weave something related to marketing into my conversations. I have definitely caught myself, on numerous occasions, thinking out loud about why Brand X would make the decision to do such and such to Product Z. For instance, I’m talking about walking down the aisle at a checkout line at the grocery store looking at an Altoids box wondering why Altoids would come out with a line of gum or breath strips. It doesn’t make sense to do that. –shrugs- Sometimes I think even big shot CEOs and executives need to be reminded of the fundamental rules of marketing.
Anyway, going back to Liz Claiborne – William L. McCombs is a smart person. I’ve read tons of books and had many conversations about marketing that it still shocks me that smart CEOs and company leaders can lose sight of a company’s primary focus. One of the key problems with Liz Claiborne was product extension – a very very fundamental marketing concept. Liz Claiborne’s founder allowed too many different brands join the parent name and things got out of control. Company objectives weren’t getting uniformly understood by employees, too many layers of managers existed, issues weren’t able to be resolved and the entire organization was turning into a big grey mush. It’s what happens when companies get so large and expand horizontally rather than vertically – it was inevitable. Generally, this happens to big companies because it seems to be the quickest way to bring in immediate dollars. = Fortunately, McCombs made a bold decision to spin-off brands that didn’t fit with his new business model. His strategy is to heavily brand Juicy Couture, Kate Spade and Lucky Brand and have a few key brands drive the company. Sounds like a good plan; however, I question whether Juicy Couture, Kate Spade and Lucky Brand will able to hold enough branding power to do so. I guess we’ll just have to wait to see what happens with that. I just wanted to comment on his plan of action – that’s all.
I like that McCombs calls his strategy “stupid simple” for two reasons 1) I totally agree and 2) I’m a fan of alliteration.