Evolution takes courage

by. Kristiana Lockman

Sometimes relying on our history can hinder our best efforts to evolve an established brand. When things aren’t going as well as we’d hoped, when we feel unsure about what to do next, we long for the days when we had momentum working in our favor. It may be tempting to emulate past successes, even though the market has changed. Even though we’ve changed. Evolution takes courage.

Watching JCPenney revert to its pre-2011 logo is like watching an old friend get sucked back into a relationship with the high school quarterback, the guy who still pulls up VHS tapes of past touchdowns when you drop in to say hello. This is obviously a company struggling to find a safe landing, and one that is unsure about its future.

Sure, mistakes were made. JCP’s customer base didn’t understand the hip new logo and sharply different attitude introduced in 2011. The sales strategy behind the shift aside (see John Mathes’ article titled Culture isn’t invented. It’s born.), the perception in the marketplace isn’t positive right now. It was a pretty big leap to go from a brand that appealed to my grandmother to a store I, as a mom looking for a balance of quality and affordability, might be willing to visit. While I’d never accuse this company of being careless, there are arguments to be made about what this brand did wrong, why it doesn’t feel authentic anymore, and how key transitions were missed along the way.

But the more important question may be this: was the logic behind the shift in JCP’s look and feel valid? I think it was. This was an identity that was severely dated by any measurement, one that needed to evolve.

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