BRANDING / RESESRCH
01. The PROBLEM
Problem: Dressbarn's clients are no longer engaging with the brand and there is little new cliental coming forth.
During my time at University I obtained a part time job at the women's fashion retail Dressbarn. Here, I spent over 3 years as a sales associate and an assistant manger and watched as Dressbarn changed over the years.
Dressbarn began in 1962, when after the wars, women were thought and expected to return home from the workforce and become the dutiful wives and mothers again. However, women remained in the workforce and their presence only continued to grow as the decades passed. In 1962 founder, Roslyn Jaffe saw her opportunity to provide women in the workforce with work clothing. She saw an oppurtunity to focus on women's retail within the workforce, where there was hardly any focus on women's work clothing, and set out to create the beginnings of Dressbarn.
From then Dressbarn slowly began to extend to several hundred different stores across the nation, giving women the freedom to choose high quality clothing for work. Eventually, Dressbarn become one of the largest established retailers for women's clothing and was a hit throughout the country. However, Dressbarn took major hits since the early 2000s and sales were beginning to drop over the years.
Recently within the past decade, sales have dropped exponentially, with Dressbarn. In 2017 alone, Dressbarn and its parent company Ascena, saw a 3% (or $1.7 billion) drop in sales. Since then, Dressbarn sales have struggled to make their yearly plans across the nation. Already Ascena has closed over 600 retail stores throughout the nation as a response to the sales decrease and debt.
Many retailers are suffering at this time, including brands such as Coach and Gap. Even Target has seen disappointing sales numbers recently. Many research and claim that online competitors and ecommerce, such as Amazon, and big name brands like Macy's are the reason for retail dropping. While some of this may be true, there are many reasons to why individual brands are failing. For Coach, their marketing team is finding that younger consumers don't want to purchase luxury brands anymore.
For Dressbarn, the problem is that the cliental no longer engages with the brand and the stores are drawing in very little new cliental.
Target Audience: Older Women | Ages 45-65 | Shops at Dressbarn and Kohl's (limited shopping places)
| Willing to spend a lot at once
While Dressbarn's target audience has fluctuated a bit over the decades its been open, they've always targeted towards the modern, stylish older woman. Through their own research analysis, Dressbarn has found their clients to be around the 40-70 age range, and can spend more than the younger generation on higher quality clothing.
"Inspiring women to look and feel beautiful."
- Dressbarn slogan
Problem: Identify the KPI's and needs for a re-brand project.
First thoughts: Utilize online advertising and an online presence more.
In order to evaluate solutions for how to help Dressbarn thrive, we need to look at what goals the brand itself needs to come to at the end of this hypothetical project. Coming from an associate standpoint, Dressbarn is a brand that strides off excellent customer service and their stylists ability to help customers. However, that itself has its own flaw that affects the business. In the Mid West, Dressbarn relies too heavily on their customer service and associate employees. Brands that have established themselves solely on excellent customer service experience and "Word of Mouth" advertising are finding it harder and harder to move within this new digital age. Even a company like Five Guys, who were founded and established on customer service and are a well known brand for this experience, and now starting to dive into the digital marketing world in order to keep up with society.
Dressbarn relies on its associates too much, by having their associates share sales, coupons and hiring opportunity on their personal social media pages or within their friends and family circles. While these personal connections are important and help to establish an important personal connection to Dressbarn's brand, this won't be enough to draw in new cliental. People don't know who Dressbarn is and people have old ideas about Dressbarn being for "Old ladies" and only selling dresses. In order to break these outdated ideas about Dressbarn, Dressbarn can utilize an online presence that is still founded on excellent customer service, to not only draw clients online, but also drive them to their stores.
Increase: Build on their current brand to increase KPIs.
Increase in sales numbers.
Dressbarn needs to start making it's Quarterly Sales Plans across all their stores (not just their highest sellers).
Increase in KPIs across the board.
Increase eCommerce and Omnichannel usage.
There needs to be an increase in customer usage for eCommerce orders and Omnichannel orders in store.
Increase online presence on Dressbarn.com.
An increase of users accessing the website, especially first time users.
Increase the number of clicks to products throughout the website.
Increase the time spent overall on the website.
Old and New: There's more to the brand than just a name. There's history.
02. THE BRAND
Over the past 50 years, Dressbarn has gone through several rebrands in order to become more profitable and fit a niche in the marketplace. Currently dozens of Dressbarn stores across the country are trying out a new name titled, "Roz & Ali," named after the founder and her granddaughter. Roz & Ali is already the name of a lifestyle collection within the stores, so returning customers are already familiar with the name. Dressbarn is hoping to see whether the new name draws in more modern clients, and will call for a more modernized rebrand.
In the past Dressbarn has rebranded itself from it's original quirky, for-work brand to a more casual rebrand in 2012. This change in brand began the change within the collections at Dressbarn to reflect a more casual environment, rather than strictly being about the work lifestyle. With this casual rebrand, Dressbarn began to incorporate lifestyle collections into its store in order to meet all of the different lifestyles of the modern woman. This includes casual and work apparel. This itself was the right step into helping to lift Dressbarn's brand.
Note: There is no need to try for a new modern rebrand. The name is unfamiliar.
The problem with trying for a new name rebrand, means that Dressbarn is going to have to rebrand itself entirely. While the name Roz & Ali is familiar to some customers as a lifestyle, the name itself is still unfamiliar to clients loyal to Dressbarn. Many customers don't know who Roz and Ali are and how they are connected to Dressbarn. The brand would have to instead focus on making the connection between Dressbarn and Roz and Ali, by introducing the two women further to the target audience. They've disrupted the ecosystem of Dressbarn's clients and are having to try and market the connection between Roz & Ali, while reassuring customers that Roz & Ali is still Dressbarn, but with a different names. This defeats the idea of a rebrand because rather than focusing on how you want to present your brand to the world, you are focusing on either A) Branding to new clients or B) Having to reassure returning clients.
The world is changing and modern styles are taking over the fashion world, however, Dressbarn has already taken a step towards a modern rebrand considering its target audience. Dressbarn is not trying to target the younger generation and they have an older demographic, which means that modern fashion is not the same to a fifty-year-old woman as it is to a woman like me, in their twenties.
Women want to be able to have a one-stop shot destination to finding clothing that fits their life and lifestyles. By creating a brand that fits into all of the needs of the client, helps to establish long-term loyalty with customers. During my time at Dressbarn, several of our returning older customers will always comment on how Dressbarn is the only place they shop. Dressbarn's original flaw in their design after a while was that they only focused on career and work clothing, and specialized in those clothing. However, after Dressbarn's first rebrand in 2012, to become more casual, Dressbarn introduced lifestyle shops.
These shops included Roz & Ali: which focused on career and work-wear, Westport: which focused on casual-wear, Dressbarn: which focused on dresses for any occasion, and Sunday: which focused on althesiure-wear and weekends. Dressbarn has a brand that can be built to a one-stop shop for women and become their sole destination for clothing, if only they focused on advertising and marketing more. There's no need for a new "modern"rebrand.
Revising: Keep Dressbarn as the one-stop shop.
Logo: A quick update to the logo, to add a logo that can be used without the name.
03. PHYSICAL RE-BRAND
Rather than rebranding Dressbarn as a whole, I've added small updates to the brand to help establish a line of connection to the target audience.
The logo and name remains relatively the same, sticking with the casual all lowercase san serif font. This keeps the casual conversation of dressbarn's brand and eliminates the outdated, rigid idea of the brand only catering to work-clothing. However, a logo is reintroduced to be utilized on social media and become a stamp for customers to recognize in the sea of retail brands.
The logo originated from a lowercase b within the Proxima Nova type family and is mirrored to imitate a lowercase d and b for Dressbarn.
fashion designed for you.
The slogan tagline of Dressbarn should reflect their desire for creating styles and fashion for every lifestyle of their targeted women. Meaning their tagline should reflect the brand's means of designing and creating fashion that fits to the needs of the woman, and by being casual, it should become personal. By using the word "You" the line becomes personal to the person reading those words and a connection is then established with the core values of Dressbarn's brand to its cliental.
04. CATALOGUE PRINT DESIGN
The need: Catalogues help to promote new product and can showcase how product can be worn and used.
Dressbarn hoped on the catalogue train back in 1999, hoping to fill American homes with Dressbarn catalogues as many other retail brands were. However, part of this plan failed in that distribution did not bring in the expected cliental, yet catalogues are still something that customers are utilizing today and bringing into stores.
A big incentive for bringing in catalogues and sparing them a glance is by placing discounts and coupons in them. The other big incentive is having new product that stores will have, so clients come int to inqure about product in store to try on and purchase.
However catalogues can be more than just a printed booklet today and can even be utilized to be more personal to their intended clients, and be used on a digital space.
Currently Dressbarn's catalogues remain printed and typically come with coupons sent out to customers. The old catalogue has several fundamental design flaws that could use an update, such as keeping consistency within the brand. Using a sans serif font or using lowercase rather than having a serif and all uppercase. This draws inconsistency from the brand, and becomes messy. The product information could be organized by category or image into columns and rows for easier access. The back cover should only be utilized for coupons or social media advertising and advertising in general. Product descriptions and placement should remain inside the catalogue as to not overwhelm a single page. This also keeps the flow of products within the interior and advertising on the exterior and separates the two from one another. Brands don't want to be overly push in their ads while they are trying to focus on their product.
A New Design: Create email catalogues that are interactive and personal to clients.
Dressbarn is a brand that strides off being exceptional in customer service which can mean being personal to their clients. Customers like a personal shopping experience, that feels like their own shopping experience, rather than a mundane shopping trip. Customers enjoy when trips become about them, and this also includes shopping eCommerce.
Which is why I propose that Dressbarn start creating digital catalogues to replace "Newsletters" or email blasts and can include all the coupons and discounts for a sale, promotion or even for the month, so that their discounts are all located in one place (and so that customers aren't spammed with emails, as that becomes the number 1 complaint for why customers won't give out their emails). These digital email catalogues can be interactive and clickable for customers to be linked to the product available online when they click on an image or the product description. By allowing for a digitized catalogue that is interactive and clickable, you save time and energy of customers, by eliminating the extra steps of having to type in the Dressbarn website and find the product themselves. This allows for easier and quicker access to products that consumers are interested in, which means less time spent trying to locate products and therefore potentially resulting in exiting out of the Dressbarn eCommerce experience.
These catalogues can remain interactive even when product is no longer available online, by alerting clients which stores closest to them have the specific product still available. This interaction is based off their geolocation, and if they are a returning customer receiving Dressbarn emails, then it's based off the patterns of which stores they frequent most often or have shopped at. This option also gives the user satisfaction of knowing that the product is located in a store near them, online or is no longer available near them or online.
Start small. Cisco is a large company moving towards using 3D models and animations of their products that people can view and see in 3D space before purchasing or to get a better understanding of a product's specs. This small use of animation and 3D rendering helps to eliminate customer's having to order products and the potential of a return after seeing the product in person.
The need: Catalogues help to promote new product and can showcase how product can be worn and used.
05. IMPROVE BRAND MESSAGE
Over the time that I have worked with Dressbarn, one of their core values is priding themselves with having clothing that is easily versatile for different occasions and fits into the clients lifestyle. This means having dresses that can be worn to work and then updated a bit to be worn on a night out or to a date without changing. Or wearing the same outfit to work and then out shopping, by simply changing accessories or the style.
Yet, this concept is hardly advertised other than in their slogan or inside the stores. Online and print catalogues could be using space to promote this concept of versatile clothing by including images of the same product used four different ways, for different occasions or uses. Not only will this show off versatility, but it can also promote the product in a different perspective to clients who were unsure about the product. It gives the product different views to be seen.
This isn't a concept that is limited to online catalogues and can be used for out-of-store advertising and marketing campaigns. Print collateral, digital banners and social media posting can be utilized with this concept to create a campaign of the versatility of Dressbarn's clothing and should be utilized across multiple marketing platforms. Hashtags for social media can be used to showoff their product and encourage social users to tag themselves into the campaign. Use images of models wearing the same product different ways.
A New Idea: Utilize catalogue images to show off different ways to use a single product.
A Continued Idea: Bring back the inclusive campaign but don't separate the sides.
By showing off the concept of versatility Dressbarn can be utilizing incorporating different models showing off the same product, in order to showcase their products available in all inclusive sizes. Recently, Dressbarn's brand has had more of a focus on inclusivity to their clothing by promoting and advertising that their styles sell from size 2 to a size 24. In early 2017 Plus-size model, Ashley Graham introduced her collection BEYOND at Dressbarn. Ashely Graham had become a partner with Dressbarn and drove headlines, as she is a well-known and successful plus-size model in the fashion industry.
This inclusion of Ashely Graham helped to launch a inclusive campaign throughout Dressbarn, which utilimatly lagged after news and hysteria died down. Despite being a very inclusive store, marketing had come to a standstill outside Dressbarn stores.
A potential solution to propose is to stop separating the plus-sizes from the smaller sizes. Or to stop the Misses v. Women mentality that comes out of women's fashion. This idea of having the Plus-sized women having to shop either at different stores, or in a different section of the store is s mentally problematic solution to including plus-sizes in clothing lines. Due to the stigma's and high beauty standards already in the fashion industry, plus-sized fashion tends to suffer a great deal, even in Dressbarn. Either there aren't enough styles (and cute styles too) or the women are left to feel isolated from the rest of the store because they can only shop in one section. In America, a majority of women fall in between standard sizes and plus-sizes, with the average size of a woman over 25 in America being a size 14. Yet, some retail stores consider 14 to already be in the plus-sizes and places a negative notion on women.
Instead, Dressbarn should eliminate their size separation and be rid of the Misses v. Women connotation. Dressbarn should embrace their brand identity of inclusive fashion by only advertising sizes 2-24 and opening up the stores to all sizes mixed in and organizing store layouts by lifestyle collections. The online experience can also use to eliminate plus-sizes v. misses and be organized and filtered by size and collection instead, in order to be rid of themes that can be associated with plus-size fashion.
With this in mind, advertising can focus on showing off products on different models and including plus-sized models of all shapes to show off their product. Include a size 24 woman on the same poster as a size 2 woman and show that Dressbarn isn't separating their fashion styles.
db sizes 2-24
An online retailer called ASOS is being praised for its use of showing off the same product on three different models with different body types, race and ethnicity. Their newest campaign is aimed at creating a better shopping experience for its consumers, by being inclusive about their models in order to show off products. This idea helps consumers to imagine the clothing on themselves depending on their body type. While ASOS has seen an increase in sales and website traffic, some critiques still feel that ASOS could have a wider range of models to include. Dressbarn can learn from this by seeing how ASOS is campaigning successfully and where to improve with its own campaigns and ideas for how to be inclusive.
The need: Engage more with the audience rather than using social media to only promote new products.
06. SOCIAL MEDIA DESIGN
A common social media trend used by many retails currently is allowing for direct product information on images and social media post. This gives easy access to the product information displayed in an image for consumers to look at, such as price, description and sizing. Dressbarn has already hoped onboard with this fashion trend on their instagram page.
However, another avenue for Dressbarn to further explore is partnering and sponsoring with instagram models, or women with a large following. This can help Dressbarn to reach it's products to a larger audience, and often people might be more willing to purchase products after seeing them on someone who isn't a paid, photoshopped model. Also these instagram-famous women have a higher influence on her audience than Dressbarn has.
Brands like ASOS, Madwell and even Old Navy have also incorporated real-time advertising and instagram's network to show off their products without posting their own posts. They've come up with hashtags, sponsored people on instagram and even ASOS has encouraged people to post pictures of themselves in their products with #AsSeenOnMe. Then the companies's official account typically reposts or "regrams" the post to their account to show their own following real people wearing their product, therefore hitting different audiences. Dressbarn has started reposting instagram fashionista's wearing their product, but the company should continue to sponsor and encourage users to wear their product and post pictures of them while describing the product. This helps to build a relationship with the audience of the instagram follower and can lead Dressbarn to having a larger following of their own. Once they've established a following, Dressbarn can really begin to encourage its followers to post pictures of themselves utilizing hashtags, tagging and instagram stories. All the while Dressbarn becomes personal by sharing stories of these people wearing their product and promoting their brand.
On the topic of becoming personal with its clients, Dressbarn can also utilize social media for personal stories to inspire their clients. With posts dedicated to interviews with the designers behind the Dressbarn fashion, users can empathize and understand fashion better. They then become more personal with Dressbarn as a brand. For example in October, Dressbarn is always a part of the Breast Cancer Awareness Campaigns (due to the clients all being women), and often design products with profits going straight to research, yet Dressbarn could be utilizing this experience to share the stories of designers during this time.
Why is this important? Why should people care about the month of October? How are their designs tied to Breast Cancer Research and Awareness? Who are these designers?
Also, let consumers learn who Roslyn Jaffe is and what her story was like. Incorporate interviews into Instagram stories or livefeeds to engage the brand with the audience. Use this time to get to know the people behind Dressbarn so that clients can feel an emotion and personal connection to the brand, rather than only feel a profitable mind-set.
Instagram: Use instagram models with a large following.
Become Personal: Use stories, interviews and let users see the people behind Dressbarn.
Conclusion: An online and brand presence can still be personal.
07. FINAL THOUGHTS
Dressbarn is successful and working to improve its fashion as the fashion world continues to change. However, the brand needs to remain consistent with modern values and its own core values. They need to get into the digital advertising world and stop relying on the golden customer experience.
Through the usage of customer engagement on social media, catalogues and online shopping, Dressbarn can begin branding a more personal experience for its target audience. Customer engagement on a personal level will help to solidify the brand connection and increase user engagement online and within the stores, but marketing needs to reach its clients and draw in new clients within the target audience. Don't brand for the wrong audience.
Use personalized emails and online catalogues with product picked and targeted specifically for individual engagement. Connect your online store with in store advertising and availability in order to keep users coming back until they are loyal to the brand.
Look at future options for personalized shopping experiences such as the use of chat bots to help create a shopping experience for shoppers online or via email, with personalized stylists picking out ideas based on past experiences and purchases. The future is changing and Dressbarn needs to expand its marketing, but that doesn't mean they have to disassociate themselves with their clients or become any less personal. They simply have to adapt as the digital world continues to change.
If so, Dressbarn can remain in competition for women's fashion and expand their eCommerce community, as online shopping sales continue to increase.
Note this project was done as a personal exploration for portfolio work and does not reflect the ideas and views of Dressbarn as a current company.