Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Should we meet at Fifth and Pacific?

      You probably know Liz Clairborn changed its name. After selling its namesake brand and the Monet brand  to JC Penney, and its Dana Buchman brand to Kohl's, it's going to concentrate on its other brands, Juicy Couture, Kate Spade, and Lucky Brand.

       Here's how c.e.o. William L. McComb put it: "While it's difficult to replace an iconic name like Liz Claiborne, we believe the Fifth and Pacific Companies telegraphs where we are today --- taking inspiration from New York and California, while describing our reach and potential."

       From a business point of view, unloading three hard-wrought brands makes sense. So does concentrating on three brands with an upbeat future. But the name Fifth and Pacific? From a marketing perspective, it's a C-.

       In the first place, you probably won't remember the name by dinnertime. There's precedent for saying that. Gap had introduced a women's store to compete with Chico's and called it Fourth and Towne. Nobody could remember that, either.

      Next, it says nothing about the company or its mission or its position in the marketplace. It doesn't say fashion, it doesn't say contemporary, it doesn't say smart. In fact, it sounds like a company that ships fruit from South America.

      A name is a very precious thing. It has to be nurtured and lubricated and worked in like a first-baseman's mitt. It has to be inspiring, and make employees, suppliers, and customers proud. It's the frosting on every kind of cake the kitchen turns out, and something people think about when they're hungry for ideas. A name is the brand.

       There may have been a lot of politics involved in the decision. Maybe the chairman of the board wanted to call it Lucky Juicy Kate, and the biggest stockholder wanted to call the new company Couture Lucky Spade. So they cancelled each other out and the treasurer named it after a famous street and the deep blue sea. I don't know and it doesn't matter.

        All I know is that I think Tim Gunn is still Creative Director there and I don't want him to forget where to go to work on Monday mornings.

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