Building brand awareness is an important goal for all businesses, but what happens when de-emphasizing your brand name makes the most strategic sense for your company?
Clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch seems to have answered that question. The company known for plastering its name and logo across much of its merchandise is throttling the use of its logos by half for the upcoming fall season. It's the first step in a broader phase-out of its logo-centric design, according to the company's CEO, Mike Jeffries.
"In the spring season, we are looking to take the North American logo business to practically nothing," Jeffries told investors on a conference call Thursday.
The decision to do away with the signature "A&F" design and other logos highlights how even established brands need to redesign and evolve their products to keep up with the changing style preferences of their customers.
In the case of Abercrombie, the company is coming off 10 straight quarters of declining sales, with a 6 percent drop to $891 million in its latest fiscal quarter ending July 31.
Could the company have cut its losses earlier by not waiting 10 straight quarters to abandon its traditional design principles? Perhaps, though Abercrombie's financial struggles may have more to do with a number of other decisions that suggested an element of tone-deafness as far as what consumers want.
As Inc. previously reported, Jeffries faced public outrage last May after a Business Insider story pointed out the clothing company didn’t make women's jeans larger than a size 10, and that Jeffries was in favor of the strategy, having previously been quoted as saying the company's demographic were only young, thin people. Abercrombie also recently ditched its club-like store atmosphere of low lighting and loud music by turning the music down and the lights up.
So will the new Abercrombie style of logo-less clothing be enough to turn the company's performance around?
In a report from Reuters, Liz Dunn, an analyst at Macquarie Research, called it a "good strategy" and "consistent in where consumer interest lies." Still, she added, "it is not going to be enough to entirely turn sales."
The lesson for entrepreneurs is simple: Just because you've achieved success on massive scale--and built a highly recognizable brand--it doesn't mean your market strategy can look the same forever.