Thursday, June 02, 2005

How to Torpedo a Brand

I was walking through an upscale mall in search of the perfect anniversary gift for my wife (All ideas welcome, btw). This is a trendy mall with upscale shops: Tiffanys, Cartier, Versace all have outposts here. There are Bentleys in the center court instead of Chevys and Fords. So when I saw a fancy, trendy optometrist, Optique, it was no surprise. Nicely decorated, the name spelled out in a stylish font and a well designed retail space. Everything looked great right up until my eyes wandered about 3 inches above the store name to see Lenscrafters—using their somewhat boring font with surprisingly prominent placement.

It was a lot like having a bucket of cold water dumped on your head while daydreaming. I was looking at this hip optometrist imagining all the beautiful people buying expensive, chic eyeglasses, when SLAM—Lenscrafters! Aren’t the ones in the Walmart Plaza?

Here is the thing that the Lenscrafter marketing folk forgot. Creating a brand image is about evoking an emotional response; building the fantasy to the point that it has value in and of itself. The blue box denotes what it contains and so people are willing to pay premium for a Tiffany diamond. No one is going to “pay for the name” if the name doesn’t mean anything. And every facet of the brand, from the way employees dress and act to the store design to the signage, should either work to reinforce that brand position or, at a minimum, not work against it.

If Lenscrafters wanted a store there, they should have put one there. If they wanted to create any upscale brand they should have done that. Merging the two dilutes both brands.