Courting the Milennials: Banana Republic Ramps it Up

June 03 2014

with guest blogger Annie G.


Banana Republic is a brand that has long been seen as Gap's older, more mature counterpart (or at least since its induction to the Gap Inc. family in 1983). The company has transitioned from its original positioning, exchanging the original safari themed items and decor for a more polished look. Their aesthetic has been targeted towards Ben and Anna (say it out loud and you'll get it), their fictional, 30-40 year old, well-off, style conscious customer. Simon Kneen, Creative Director since 2009, successfully designed for this audience for many years. However, in recent seasons, Kneen has been criticized for dulling the brand down and perhaps being out of touch with current trends.


photo by Billy Farrell Agency

Enter Kneen’s replacement, Marissa Webb, Banana's new Creative Director. Not only is Webb young and stylish, but she's more plugged in. She's conscious of the vital role social media plays, and is an avid Instagram user. Webb’s personal Spring 2014 line displayed a fresh vision that will help push Banana's image forward, and her point-of-view will create a shift in Banana’s design sensibilities, audience, and marketing that will help them to reach hip, twenty-something millennials and their buying power. While Ben and Anna remain a core part of Banana Republic's demographic, Benji and Annalise are the new kids in town. They may still have brunch dates like their parents, but they're young professionals with blogs to write and tweets to send, and they want to look cute while they’re gramming.

While Webb isn't expected to debut a collection until next summer, her ascension has already created a notable shift in the brand's product. Additionally, the late L'Wren Scott designed a successful colourful and bold collection for the company. Her prints were a bit louder, the colors more saturated. The cuts were sleek and (dare we say) sexy. And all of a sudden, Banana engaged in some effective social media marketing. With the release of Scott’s line came a Twitter/Instagram selfie contest. Fitting room mirrors had decals that read #ThisIsGlam, and encouraged customers to take and post pictures in the collection. Last week, Banana Republic also launched another collaboration with Marimekko, the graphic and funky Finnish brand that has already staged a successful comeback.

While the brand will always be loyal to Ben & Anna, the duo who love neutrals, classic non-iron shirts, and perfectly fitted Sloan pants, the future may have a positive pop of colour for Banana Republic. Will this mass-market clothing brand successfully throw off its mumsy identity and evolve with the times and develop deeper and more vital market reach? We’ll be sipping on our Arnold Palmers and taking a wait-and-see.


photo by Banana Republic

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Leveraging the Old to Make Way for the New: The British Journal of Photography embraces the iPhone

December 18 2013

Hold on to your iPhones, photographers! The venerable British Journal of Photography has launched FLTR, a new weekly magazine dedicated to iPhone photography, published ONLY on the iPhone. This is a very progressive and forward-thinking move for a magazine with such strong historical roots, founded in Liverpool in 1854 (one hundred years before the Beatles appeared on the scene), and is typical of the smart leveraging of historical brands taking place these days in the UK.

So, about the magazine. The British Journal of Photography has a kind of fusty name, one that is a bit disconnected from how modern they really are. (That is a different brand topic for another day.) They have carved out an important role in the UK photo community, spanning the realms of commercial, fine art, critical analysis, news, events, job listings, and more. In creating FLTR, they are embracing what is going on NOW and what will be taking place in the future of the photo world, rather than pushing against the tide and ignoring or complaining about how bad things are for professional photographers. There are some compelling articles in the first issue, one by the uber-influential Kathy Ryan, and another about the impact smartphones would have had in recording dramatic events such as the attacks on 9/11.


via

These days, non-professionals fluidly take pictures with their phones all the time, freely documenting what they are eating, doing, where they are going, and who they spend their time with. It is estimated that more than 880 billion images will be taken over the next twelve months, with many of the images shot and shared by phone. That’s a whole lot of photos! Some of my photographer clients shoot campaigns on their iPhones, adding special lenses to bring more flexibility and refinement to the shooting process. Other clients of mine are asked to create the feel of iPhone photos – in other words, the naturalism and real life qualities of phone images, but with more technical backbone. Instagram has changed the way that we all relate to photography, and is used very actively as a major marketing tool for professionals, one where technology provides the bridge for a very personal connection between photographer and client or prospective client.

I would pay attention to this magazine, photo people. It’s another way of putting yourself out there beyond your own social media, and a great way of being part of the important conversation about what is going on in photography today.

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