Going backwards isn’t a magic fix
Charles Rashall, President of BrandAdvisors, the firm behind the JCPenney brand transformation in 2012 opens up about JCPenney abandoning their design and returning to the pre-2011 logo.
Going back to “the good old days” of sales and coupons puts J.C. Penney back in the sea of sameness, competing with brands like Walmart, Sears and Kmart, where price is the tool of choice to drive traffic and sales. At a time of financial crisis and a need for focus, changing the logo for the third time in as many years is a distraction.
The real challenge for the company: defining a strategy that allows J.C. Penney to stand for something meaningful and distinctive, and to that end, coming to grips with and staying focused on the ideal target customer.
We’ve been watching JCPenney with interest since Ron Johnson took reign (and his prompt overthrow the moment the board of directors became nervous that his transformation would lead to big changes, and some short-term financial woes). Ron Johnson held a vision for JCPenney that excited the brand for the first time in memory.
Rashall’s commentary strikes at the heart of why companies rebrand: communicating change and symbolizing a vision to the world. Unfortunately for JCPenney, their fear of thinking differently damns them to being no different than the tens of other retail stores that compete on price alone. JCPenney had an opportunity, but the fear of the short-term prevented them from obtaining the possible huge benefits of the long-term.