When I heard that Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony were breaking up, the news didn't faze me. But when I heard they are continuing together on their namesake clothing lines for Kohl's, my fashion marketing antennae stood at attention.
Branding is probably advertising's greatest contribution to marketing, and goes far beyond names, logos and typefaces. Branding involves every association that customers, vendors, employees, and even the government makes with the company and its products. It includes all those feelings and notions and suspicions that we have.
When I ask my students the difference between Gap and Guess, for example, their response is immediate and vocal. It has nothing to do with stitching and textiles, and everything to do with the people who wear them. My students know exactly which "girl" they'd introduce to their parents --- and to their boyfriends.
What do J. Lo and her soon-to-be-ex bring to the party? I'm sure my students' images of them are clear. What do they bring to Kohl's? The chain's management is obviously hoping for sales, but it's more than that. It's romance, it's star quality. It's dreams and beauty and glamour, success and sexiness. It's there that with a little grace, go I.
Personally, I don't want to buy clothes to look like Marc Anthony any more that I want to buy an after shave to smell like Antonio Banderas. But hundreds of thousands of people do, and that's the power of brands. It helps products get people's attention, and meet customers' expectations. Maybe if the clothes would help me get J.Lo, I'll be willing to try them.
The question is, do the positive images change when the celebrity couple uses the D-word? Does that make them more accessible in your mind, or less attractive? In my mind the answers are yes and no. So please let the Kohl's people know what you think. Never mind, they'll find out soon enough.
How about your personal branding? You are a brand, you know, and all the rules apply. Everything you do, say, wear, think and drive might add to or subtract from, reinforce or change your image and identity.
My brand is probably changing by the day. I hope my friends still recognize the label.