Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries may need to eat his words sooner than he would like. Last week, I blogged that Jeffries’ misguided attempt at following the true mantra of branding backfired.
The approach of Mike Jeffries is correct, in stating that the Abercrombie & Fitch brand was single-minded in its approach: Attracting only fit, thin people. Brand is most effective when it says specifically who it is for.
But you can’t be mean-spirited about it because that’s a reflection of your brand as well. As reported by the brand researcher, YouGov BrandIndex, Jeffries’ contentious comments are having an immediate effect on the Abercrombie & Fitch’s brand.
The following graph demonstrates the positive and negative perception of Abercrombie & Fitch compared to competitors H&M and American Eagle:
YouGov’s graph reaffirms the challenges faced when companies attempt to brand the right way. Exclusivity is the powerful force that makes brand work. For the consumer, it makes you feel like you belong to an exclusive club.
But there is also the importance of tone. I believe Abercrombie & Fitch will rise again because of its single-minded approach. But the tone of Jeffries’ comments – and blurted throughout the media – has temporarily damaged the brand.