September 6, 2017

L.L. Bean, seeking retail reboot, revamps branding

Courtesy / L.L.Bean
Courtesy / L.L.Bean
Steve Smith, CEO of L.L.Bean, spoke about the Freeport-based outdoor retailer's new branding campaign this morning as the featured speaker of the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce's first Eggs and Issues Breakfast of the 2017-2018 season.

In a new branding initiative intended to boost retail sales that have been flat the past two years, L.L. Bean has launched a new ad campaign called "Be an Outsider."

The Associated Press reported in the Sun Journal that the campaign emphasizes the outdoors as an accessible place to enjoy, a contrast to how some competitors position the outdoors as a landscape to be conquered.

Illustrating the company's new campaign are ads featuring a family enjoying the outdoors at a cabin, a young canoeist howling and some 20-year-olds jumping off a dock, the AP reported.

The Freeport-based retailer has had flat sales of $1.6 billion for two consecutive years and announced earlier this year that it's changing its pension plan, pruning its 5,000-member workforce with early retirements, scaling back the number of store openings and examining its return-anything-at-any-time policy.

"We need to be clear about who we are and what our identity is, and then communicate in a very compelling way to customers, knowing that others are collapsing around us," CEO Steve Smith told the AP.

Smith spoke about the rebranding effort this morning at the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce's first Eggs and Issues Breakfast of the 2017-2018 season. In a brief description on his talk posted on its website, the chamber noted that part of the rebranding's focus "includes aligning its product development and marketing strategies to engage new and existing customers alike who share L.L.Bean's enthusiasm for the outdoors. This outdoors passion is at the center of a new and inspirational brand and marketing strategy, that marries the company's long-standing outdoor heritage with the many ways people experience the joy of the outdoors anywhere they live, work or play today."

Smith became the fourth president and CEO of L.L.Bean in early 2016, replacing Chris McCormick who retired.

In March, L.L.Bean named The VIA Agency in Portland as its agency of record.

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