Posted: May 25th, 2022
Branding strategies are key to a company’s success. Levi-Strauss must take care not to sully its reputation by jumping into a new line of business attire. The proposal to create a new line of Levi-Strauss office clothes is flawed. The following consulting report outlines the reasons why the company must change its approach towards developing a new line.
Branding strategies are key to a company’s success and why the Levi-Strauss name is synonymous with jeans worldwide. Having expanded beyond dungarees and into men and women’s casual apparel, the Levi-Strauss brand has remained consistent without being stagnant. Market research would be immanently helpful in making a final decision on whether or not to diversify the brand even further, but based on what we already know, Levi-Strauss cannot enter the business attire industry as a formidable competitor to Brooks Brothers without risking significant if not debilitating losses. It is therefore not recommended to pursue the new line of Levi-Strauss business attire under the current model proposed by the marketing department.
Schneider & Hall (2011) note that many product launches inevitably fail because marketing executives too eagerly jumped into a project without sufficient foresight. Moreover, some companies cannot support the rapid growth that may ensue from an expansion such as the one currently being proposed by the Levi-Strauss marketing department (Schneider & Hall 2011). Assuming that Levi-Strauss can handle the growth, the company still needs to question why it would want to change a brand that is so trusted among consumers as the purveyor of classic casualwear.
The Levi-Strauss brand is firmly established worldwide, and its name is synonymous with casual, comfortable, yet stylish garments. Levi-Strauss business attire might have been inconceivable a few decades ago but now, the notion is not a far stretch. This is why the marketing department is coveting a new line of clothes that can expand the brand.
The idea of entering the business attire market is not a bad one on the surface. However, the brand diversification must be constrained by common sense. Our analysis shows that a Levi-Strauss line of business attire can succeed only if certain conditions are met. These conditions include refraining from sullying the Levi-Strauss brand and creating a new brand for the office clothing line; and firmly distinguishing the new brand from Brooks Brothers by appealing more to women, people of color, and consumers uninterested in boring traditional business garb.
In spite of the shifts that are taking place in corporate culture worldwide, a conservative streak remains and this plays out especially in the arena of appearance and fashion. For both men and women, corporate clothes are still monkey suits for men and their equivalent in simple pants and dress suits for women. There is nothing to suggest that the marketing department has any clearly defined means of distinguishing the new line of Levi-Strauss office attire from the line currently on offer from Brooks Brothers. Unless the design department can come up with a line of clothing that is so radically different from what is being offered by Brooks Brothers, then it is unlikely that a Levi-Strauss monkey suit is going to catch the eye of GenX or GenY consumers. And if the design department can come up with a flashy, stylish line of office garb for both men and women, then the clothing line must be under a new label, a new name, a new brand. The Levi-Strauss brand cannot handle the added dimension of office wear and remain committed to jeans and Dockers.
One reason why a new brand entry under the parent company of Levi-Strauss would work is that Brooks Brothers has little — to no — panache among people of Generation X age or younger. Young executives want to look snappy and sharp, not like their grandfathers or grandmothers. Although some young employees at conservative corporations might still seek out the bargain prices on standard business attire, an increasing number will welcome the entry of Levi-Strauss only if the brand is not directly attached to the label. The Levi-Strauss brand is too closely linked to casual attire that to market a line of office clothes with the Levi-Strauss label would be disastrous. As Deshpande (2010) points out, consumers will not believe that Levi-Strauss creates a line of office attire that is snappy or polished enough to impress senior management. Customers would be receiving an ambiguous message: are the clothes too casual for work yet too formal for weekend wear? Why are the Levi-Strauss suits different from Brooks Brothers?
Business attire is changing — as casual Fridays are the norm and some offices have expanded their casual days throughout the week. Therefore, it’s not much of a stretch to have the iconic dungarees producer Levi-Strauss enter the fray and produce a line of business attire for the current and next generation of executives. After all, the original Levi-Strauss dungarees were designed and produced for working people. It is not much of a stretch for Levi-Strauss to appeal both to blue- and white-collar workers. Yet to use the Levi-Strauss label on office clothes is ill advised. It is therefore strongly advised that if the company is eager to develop a line of office wear to appeal to the next generation that Levi-Strauss come up with a new brand name to distinguish itself not only from Brooks Brothers but also from itself.
In summary, a new line of business attire will work if the following conditions are met first:
A new label is used, not Levi-Strauss
Designers create suits for men and women that are qualitatively different from those on offer from Brooks Brothers.
Capitalize on social media to anchor the new label as one that appeals to young and stylish people. Create brand loyalty even before the entire product line has been launched in flagship stores.
Refuse to fall into the trap of ambiguity; do not design denim work suits!
Pricing may need to be strategically higher than Brooks Brothers to imply higher quality and greater attention to design, green products sourcing, and fair trade initiatives.
Barwise, P. & Meehan, S. (2010). The one thing you must get right when building a brand. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved online: http://hbr.org/2010/12/the-one-thing-you-must-get-right-when-building-a-brand/ar/1
Deshpande, R. (2010). Why you aren’t buying Venezuelan chocolate. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved online: http://hbr.org/2010/12/why-you-arent-buying-venezuelan-chocolate/ar/2
Lake, L. (n.d.). Developing your brand strategy. Retrieved online: http://marketing.about.com/od/brandstrategy/tp/brandstrategydev.htm
Milkman, Katherine L. (2008) Tap Consumers’ Desire for “Shoulds.” Harvard Business Review; Jul-Aug2008, Vol. 86 Issue 7/8, p22-23
Schneider, J. & Hall, J. (2011). Why Most Product Launches Fail. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved online: http://hbr.org/2011/04/why-most-product-launches-fail/ar/3
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