Lands’ End’s guiding principles are as clean-cut simple and universal as the design the brand is famous for:
- Make it as good as you can.
- Improve it whenever possible.
- Always, always (repeated for the unexpected dramatic effect) price it fairly.
- Guarantee it for life.
Whether or not the, by now infamous, interview with Gloria Steinem was the right move, it certainly added a little character to the otherwise hopelessly vanilla brand. It would seem reasonable to assume that that was the goal of the retailer’s CEO Federica Marchionni, who was enticed from Dolce & Gabbana and tasked with getting the catalogue into hands with a more pronounced pulse. It would be hard to imagine that after a year in the US, a pre-election year at that, Ms Marchionni didn’t know just how… passionate some of the middle-of-the-road, beige-chinos-wearing citizens can get when it comes to gender politics and traditional values.
But it wasn’t the fact that Lands’ End entered a very serious debate in a rather nonchalant manner that deservedly damaged its equity. It was that the management didn’t sincerely believe in what they were doing.
The turn towards a younger consumer didn’t seem to include an update to the brand platform. Therefore, facing protests, the company didn’t have the relevant ideology to sync its responses with and treated an incendiary topic as an unsuccessful marketing campaign, harming the brand even more.
Brand values – not unlike people’s values – determine the character, the behaviour and effectively the experience a consumer should expect when getting in touch with the brand. Brands that don’t have a differentiating and genuine set of values are not unlike unprincipled people – occasionally fun, but rarely considered relationship material.