.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;} Making Sense: e-Digest of Brand Thinking

Thursday, December 15, 2005

French Connection -- all fcuk’d up

One minute you’re a floundering British retailer; the next you’re on top of the world. Essentially that’s what happened to French Connection in 1997 when they re-branded themselves fcuk. The name is an acronym (French Connection United Kingdom). Needless to say, it caught on. They used it on everything, from clothing to advertising. It was hip. It was cool. It was a great way to engage the under-twenty-five set.

But that was then. This is now. According to Fashion United, French Connection announced recently that the logo had been dropped. “Use of the fcuk logo has been toned down and will be used in a much more subtle way,” spokeswoman Lorna Perrin told Britain's Press Association. “Branding on the recent autumn/winter collection has been significantly reduced and used in a softer manner. But fcuk is interchangeable with French Connection as the company's name and so will continue to be used.” Who is she kidding?

The reason for dropping fcuk is French Connection’s lack-luster performance. Like-for-like sales dropped 9 percent in the first six months of 2005. Profits have dropped from £16.2 million to £5.1 million. According to analysts who follow these things, consumers have become bored with the fcuk logo. Sure, blame it on the brand. What it looks like to me is a case of not delivering the brand promise. Consumers aren’t bored with fcuk; most likely, they’re bored with clothes and designs that fall short of their expectations and don’t live up to the brand personality. Too bad that the French Connection let the value of its once-strong brand slip away.

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