Sunday, June 17, 2012

The power of signature branded products

This last Friday I spent a luxurious afternoon with a good friend browsing through clothing shops in central Stockholm. Of course I had the little one with me as well but luckily for me he seemed to enjoy the browsing too happily sleeping away in the pram.

One thing that struck me as I browsed through some of the clothing stores is how powerful a few signature, classic products can be for the brand as a whole.

A perfect example for this is swedish clothing brand Polarn & Pyret with their classic line of striped childrens clothes. It might be difficult to spot the small P&P label on their garments but you will always recognise their signature stripes. And those stripes stand for everything that P&P stands for. And this I would probably summarise as: durable, comfortable and classic, everyday clothing for happy and healthy kids.

Other retail brands with signature products would be GANT with their classic light blue or white cotton shirts or Peak Performance with their hooded sweatshirts in extremely durable quality. These mid-range priced clothing brands have understood that owning a certain style, pattern or cut will add to creating lasting brand impact. Something that more expensively priced, luxury clothing brands have adopted for years - and I am just thinking of Mulberry as the perfect example now.

The advantage of owning a certain pattern, cut or look must be great. They would be the same as for Heinz with their classic ketchup, or for Coca-Cola with their coke. It is a line of products that you can trust, a constant cash-cow which you can utilise to support new ventures.

So why are they not all doing it? Why can you not find any signature brand products at e.g. H&M, Kappahl or Sisters? Or the brittish brand Next or Oasis? Why don't they create something lasting that people return to buy year after year, and always feel proud wearing? Well, one reason might be that they feel that their commitment to fashion is too strong. And that signature products may ruin their fashion credentials.

Would they? Personally I think there is a middle way, and that the Polarn & Pyret, GANT and Peak examples show the power of signature products in the fashion industry. If signature branded products fit the brand, and offer something special and a sense of pride for the owner, they create strong brand impact through the thousands of people wearing them with pride, year after year.

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