Creating the right image is a powerful tool for success. This is as true for corporations as it is for individuals. Over the last few months, I’ve been fascinated to watch as traditional retailer Talbots re-branded itself from a chain for conservative, some would say stodgy, sixty-somethings to a destination store for younger, hipper, edgier, career women. But there’s more — and this is where it gets really exciting — they are exceeding market expectations! During a recent pant promotion they sold almost 600,000 pairs in nine weeks. Talk about a sensational performance.
I often speak about the importance of developing Executive Presence and Talbots certainly has it — now. I’m not suggesting, on any level, that Talbots’ metamorphosis was instant, easy or a magic bullet for immediate sales. Au contraire. It was meticulously researched, artfully orchestrated and ultimately, is a work-in-progress. What obviously intrigues me about the campaign is how it reinforces my philosophy: your image directly affects your ability to achieve success.
There are some extremely clever features in the re-brand but surely the most controversial is the choice of 1980’s supermodel, Canadian Linda Evangelista, as the 45-year old face of Talbots. Chances are you don’t remember her in the Miss Teen Niagara contest — the beginning of her illustrious career — but do remember her famous quote about her salary expectations at the height of her fame, “I don’t get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day.” Chameleon Linda, once known for her constantly changing appearance, has now stepped out for Talbots in a series of super-glam shots. Some nay-sayers argue that Linda doesn’t look 45, that she is unfamiliar as a style icon to the new, targeted thirty-something customer, that her “fast” look will scare away existing customers and on and on …
To all those objections, I have the obvious response. The campaign just launched, the results aren’t in, but and it’s a big but, remember those pant sales. And besides, there are many other components than just Linda. What Ms. Evangelista did was create buzz and a ton of free publicity. Linda made me sit up and take notice, to actually visit the website and, I should add, a store. And what I found was impressive. This frumpy old store has a new Executive Presence!
To be continued (Part 1 of 2)
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