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BrandMark Case Histories

Signature Eyewear Repositioning - Turning the Optical Industry on Its Ear

Situation review

In the mid 90’s all optical frames looked alike. There was just preppy and unisex styling. They were simple, standardized silver or gold metal, or black plastic styles with an occasional clear crystal model thrown in for an alternative. There was no real attempt to distinguish men’s frames from women’s. There was nothing really special about one’s eyeglasses.  Nothing to be proud of.  Nothing to show off.  In fact, if a man broke his frame he’d just patch it up with some scotch tape or use a paper clip to fix a hinge. 

Brandmark was retained by small optical company to write and implement a marketing plan that would take this $2 million company to the next level and separate it from the dozens of me-too competitors.

Strategy and Tactics

Brandmark repositioned the company, U.S.A. Optical Distributing, from the basic industry platform of “selling medical frames that held corrective lenses” to a fully developed fashion accessory business. Brandmark renamed the company to Signature Eyewear to establish it as the most recognizable industry company to house a myriad of established international fashion brands. In so doing, Brandmark caught the entire medical-oriented optical business asleep at the switch, especially when it came to fashion marketing and merchandising. Brandmark was among the first to advocate aggressive retail selling strategies, loyal partnerships with retail accounts and broad-based trade and consumer advertising versus just the traditional industry practice of simply dispensing frames in a medical way. The company was the first to develop customized, brand-themed, eye-catching point of purchase displays in the optometrist office. Armed with this outside of the box approach, Brandmark established niches in the fashions eyewear business that heretofore did not exist.

Action and Achievement Overview

Brandmark and Signature Eyewear established niches in the fashion eyewear business by securing licenses with the following well-known global brands:

Laura Ashley - The Premier Feminine Collection

Eddie Bauer - Capturing the Spirit of The Great Outdoors

bebe - Sensual Eyewear

Coach -  Elegant Craftmanship

Nicole Miller - New York Fashion

Oakley - For the Sports Enthusiast

Results and Achievement Overview

Brandmark’s Signature Eyewear fashion accessory marketing plan redefined how the optical industry sold and marketed eyewear frames. Signature eyewear soared from less than $2,000,000 in sales to more than $58,000,000 over a five-year period with profits of over 20%.

The Planet Startup – Making Green with Green

Situation Review

In the mid 90’s very few people had heard of green products in the household cleaning business.  In fact, the perception was that a household cleaning product that’s green couldn’t clean nearly as well as a non-green product such as Tide, Cheer, Dawn and Joy.

Action Strategy and Tactics

Brandmark wrote and implemented a start-up marketing plan that positioned Planet Products as the certifiably-authentic household cleaning brand. Brandmark secured the Green Cross Certification and Seal of environmental approval and developed a product line that cleaned as well as the major non-green brands.

Brandmark developed a truly unique advertising launch campaign for Planet in the Los Angeles marketplace. No green product line had been successful at that point in placing their items in major grocery shelves dedicated to the America’s historical cleaning product brands. One of the major sell-in points for that placement was Planet’s unique clean white packaging that would draw heightened consumer attention to the higher profit Planet product line for partnering retailers.

Brandmark also secured the leading grocery broker firm in the Western United States to represent the brand, based primarily on the unique positioning, packaging and marketing approaches for the Planet launch.

To create consumer awareness for the startup, Brandmark developed a two-prong approach to advertising. For the first time ever, a green household product line used a combined strategy of television and fee-standing insert (FSI) print advertising distributed in Sunday newspapers. The advertising campaign featured the novel theme line of “Today’s Solution for The Next Generation” to emphasize the importance of green household products for families with young children. It hit home in a big way with mothers. This strategy was highly successful in both securing the grocery stores support, their ongoing loyalty to the brand and in immediately creating significant consumer awareness and trial of the new brand. Planet laundry detergent and dishwashing liquid become the leading green household cleaning offerings in grocery stores throughout California.

Results and Achievement Overview

Under Brandmark’s guidance Planet became the first biodegradable, certifiably green household cleaning product line distributed in major supermarkets such as Safeway, Gelson’s, Albertsons, Ralph’s and Vons. The company later layered on Whole Foods and other major health food retailers across the country. Today, Planet remains one of America’s great green brands that sells a complete line of household cleaning products plus recycled paper products at hundreds of traditional retailers and Amazon.

Marantz Audio Turnaround – The Rebirth of The Solid Gold Sound

Situation Review

The Marantz stereo company was at one time famous for its higher-end, great sounding stereo components. But in an attempt to vastly increase sales, the parent company, Superscope, decided to expand the Marantz product line distribution to the same network as its lower level brands. The result was a diminution of the brand’s loyal fan and customer base followed by lowered price points to reach the larger market.  Most importantly, there was a gradual abandonment of many of the higher-end quality components that had provided the brand with its special image.  Soon the once proud of higher-end Marantz brand became watered down by selling to seemingly every audio dealer in town. Additionally, the parent company owed the banks more than $100,000,000 and was teetering on the road bankruptcy.

Brandmark’s principals were retained to turn the company around and to stop the bleeding.

Action Strategy and Tactics

Brandmark wrote and implemented a marketing plan that returned the company to its higher-end, good sounding roots. The company stopped selling the Marantz brand to discount retailers and was able to stabilize sales and significantly increase profits. The company once again became an innovator by diving into the earliest stages of the digital music revolution. It also narrowed the over-sized product line collection and focused primarily on high-quality electronic component units (versus the Superscope brand all-in-one, discount-oriented product lines). This included the sell-off of its massive and unprofitable loudspeaker business.

The Brandmark developed marketing plan created the Marantz ‘Solid Gold Sound’ advertising campaign that emphasized the brand’s uniquely toned Champaign Gold products (a throwback to the glory years of the brand) and the inclusion of industry’s first 14-carat gold input and output jacks that gave the company a huge competitive point-of-difference on the retail floor. Additionally, the marketing plan directed the company’s refocusing of message and partnership toward the retail salesperson as the most important element for ultimate success at retail.

Results and Achievement Overview

With the repositioning as Marantz – The Solid Gold Sound, the company became the exclusive audio component line for the American Express Gold Card customer base garnering over $80,000,00 in direct sales to consumers accomplishing significantly higher than industry profit margins. The revised network of audio retailers also repositioned Marantz in their outlets to its legitimate place as one of the world’s most cherished audio brands…a golden brand.

Brandmark’s marketing plan, repositioning and distribution changes created the platform for the company to turn around from $14,000,000 in annual losses to $10,000,000 in annual profits over a three-year period. The banks were paid back $100,000,000 during that period.

The Marantz turnaround was considered one of the biggest turnarounds and audio history.

Brandmark later positioned the renewed Marantz brand for sale to Phillips NV. allowing the original owners walk away with huge personal gains.

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