Retail Focus Online
True realism consists in revealing the surprising things which habit keeps covered and prevents us from seeing. -- Jean Cocteau
Mac Cato
Go Logo!
A Handbook to the Art
of Global Branding,
by Mac Cato

Mac Cato has a fifty-year perspective on branding from founding Cato Johnson - a global creative marketing firm - to starting Desgrippes Cato Gobe. He is currently a partner in Cato Associates and Cato Dangoor, balancing consultancy with teaching and writing. Cato's latest endeavor is Go Logo!, where he offers "12 Keys to Creating Successful Brands." Mac shares his thoughts with JGA on why the book bears significance to our industry:

The final stimulus to write my book Go Logo!, and the final straw that broke this old brand warrior's back, was my reaction to and total rejection of Naomi Klein's anti-brand arguments in her book No Logo. Her thesis is that brands are the pathways of manipulation between companies and corporations, cocooning us in a "brandscape" and offering us "a Barbie world for adults". While I strongly disagree with her negative conclusions, I certainly agree that the primary purpose of any brand, including Barbie's, is to persuade. My thesis is that brands, for both commercial persuasion and societal persuasion purposes, simplify choices, promise authenticity, and provide pleasure, interest, and a sense of identity.

After all my years of working with creatives, and for global clients, I've concluded that there are 12 Determinants critical to achieving lasting success in all local/global branding wars. For retail oriented brand warriors, Determinant Nine is the single most important: Persuasion: Black Can Be White, Roses Can Be Blue. In a bricks-and-mortar retail store staffed with sales associates trained to persuade you about the attractions of many brands, the sales pitch can become a sociable dialogue about a single brand's many attractions (because you specifically asked about it) - or the dialogue can quickly segue to advice on other brands. In all cases, your brand will ultimately succeed only through its ability to stand out in a crowd.

While the Internet has become an effective medium for both pre-shopping and final transactions, the majority of "I'm buying this one" decisions still take place in managed physical environments. In crowded real-life shopping environments (where the props, the fixtures, the collateral and the packaging must do their persuasion jobs), a brand warrior must consider how design can best engage each shopper in a personal dialogue. The art and the science of creating a unique concept, and, let's say, an intriguing package design, is a process with which I am very comfortable indeed. But I also know from long experience that creating the design is only the first part of the process required to get that design to the marketplace.

Always remember that the story of the brand is a continuing saga. If the brand is a major global player, it will have much received wisdom surrounding it. For instance, think of the global communications support for global brands offering everyday pleasures like Coke - or a self image vehicle like Mercedes Benz (pun intended) - as essentially Shakespearian epics. The essential plot may not change, but the staging, the interpretation, and, most importantly, the players involved can vary quite dramatically.

In fact, when old Will wrote, "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players," he could not know how accurate his words would turn out to be for retail brand warriors. So Go Logo!

For more from Mac Cato,
click here.
JGA Design Debuts Lifestyle Concept for Casual Male Retail Group, Inc.
A new men's superstore concept catering to the bigger and taller man recently opened in Schaumburg, Illinois. The leading retailer of men's big and tall apparel is launching the initial Destination XL (DXL) stores in Chicago, Houston, Memphis and Las Vegas this summer. DXL is a unique, all inclusive concept offering a wide range of clothing, shoes and products all under one roof, carrying a vast selection of brands and sizes from value apparel to high-end luxury brands, including Casual Male XL's own private labels to well-known designer brands such as Polo Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Tommy Bahama and Cole Haan. Starting with the dramatic exterior, the overscaled atrium window creates highway scale visibility to the passerby. Quality cues, visual runways, bold presentation of key items and a pivotal hub establish the visual and merchandising hierarchy to highlight the store's key zones. For more, click here.
LittleMissMatched Named Finalist for Retail Excellence Award
Gifts and Decorative Accessories Magazine has named LittleMissMatched as finalist in the store design category for their prestigious Retailer Excellence Awards to be announced in August 2010. Whether for the tween girl or consumers who remain young at heart, this innovative store encourages shoppers to buck convention and rules to create their own sensibility of clothing, home furnishings and design, or as they say, "Think Outside the Socks." Designed in collaboration with Adrienne Weiss Corp, the floor plan creates a pinball effect between the merchandising elements such as the "Mixing Bowl," Sock Trough, cashwrap and fitting rooms. The award-winning store is located in Anaheim, California at Downtown Disney. Also recently profiled in VMSD magazine, read more about LittleMissMatched here.
Frank Lloyd Bite House
In The Dog Haus
JGA recently took part in the Somerset Collection (Troy, Michigan) Animal House Exhibition supporting the Oakland County Pet Adoption Center. Renowned architects from Southeast Michigan created unique pet house designs which were auctioned to raise funds for the adoption center. Other fundraising efforts including selling house plans to interested parties. The JGA "Frank Lloyd Bite" House was a crowd favorite!
North Face Boise
The North Face Wins Building Award
Each year the City of Boise presents the Boise Building Excellence Awards to recognize special achievement on building projects in their city within three categories. The North Face Gold LEED certified project was nominated and won the 2010 Building Excellence Award in the Green Building category. The project was singled out at the 2010 Boise Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) luncheon presentation on May 20, 2010. Joni Jew, The North Face Retail Facilities/Construction Manager, accepted the award on behalf of The North Face and JGA. For more, click here.
Ken Nisch
In The News: MiND Magazine
In the latest MiND Magazine, The Heroes Issue, editor Alexandra Onderwater asked Ken Nisch about the future of retail... Ken said, "Fewer stores. More dynamic interiors, with less in them - spaces that are easier to adapt to new circumstances. And a shift in focus away from monobranding. The retail outlet will be seen more as an impresario, a host of ideas, someone who orchestrates, conducts, complements." For more, read here.

Back to School: Chicago Business Asks How To Appeal to Tough Tween Consumers
Ken Nisch recently participated in a Crain's Chicago Business feature on August 9, 2010 about one of the most competitive consumer segments - the tough tween consumer. With retailers tugging at tweens' dollars, what's a kid to do? Ken Nisch said, "Tweens love to sample, smell and experience products, and they love to try on clothes and accessories. Trying on is entertainment, and fitting rooms should be designed for a social experience. When tweens are acknowledged, they feel validated and welcome. It doesn't have to be Disney World but does have to be something beyond basic functionality. Entertainment is a piece of it." For more, click here.
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