RETAILING, REBRANDING, RISK TAKING & J. C. PENNY

If you are going to succeed in any business – in any arena – in todays competitive environment, you had better think out-of-the-box, embrace change and take some risk. That is exactly what the former Apple executive, Ron Johnson, has put into motion since he took over as CEO of J. C. Penney Co. last November.
Yes, they are cutting costs by cutting jobs but what else is new? What is unique is the idea of introducing three tiers of pricing in an anti-sales, permanent markdowns mentality that begins February 1st.
The point of any rebranding effort is to change the customer’s perception of a business. And never forget – perception is everything. For the retailer JC Penney, the rebranding is designed to make shopping easier and “treat the customers as we would like to be treated – fair and square.” says Ron Johnson. Thus it’s new “Fair and Square pricing philosophy.” Shades of Stew Leonard’s’ “The Customer Is Always Right” philosophy!
Adding into the mix, J. C. Penney has engaged one of television darlings, Ellen DeGeneres, as a brand ambassador. Penney will sell some of Martha Stewart products and fashion designer Nanette Lepore will create an exclusive line with the retailer. They have also created a new logo that expresses an enduring American brand by evoking the nation’s flag. That’s true creative thinking.
What impresses me most about Ron Johnson is that he is doing what I feel most executives fail to do. That is to ask the question: How are we going to reinforce our new brand and how are we going to continue to surprise and delight the customer? Ron Johnson has the future vision for the newly rebranded “jcpenney.”
Beginning in August, the newly rebranded jcpenney will begin a month-by-month, shop-by-shop strategy to update all stores with new and exciting merchandise and presentation. Two to three shops – dubbed “in-store boutiques” – will be installed monthly, each and every month, over a four-year transformation period. These initiatives will culminate in the complete transformation of jcpenney by the end of 2015.
So, if you are thinking about rebranding your business, you must challange your assumptions about everything you know, think out-of-the-box, take some major risks and envison a successful future by asking, “How am I going to continue to delight and surprise our customers?”

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