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Monday, October 22, 2007

Wear-Dated Brand Evolution

The fun of this digital age is that you never know when the unexpected might crop up - especially via google alerts.

This delicious blast from the past showcases how the Wear-Dated brand has evolved over the years. It comes from an ebay posting for 1971 Wear-Dated slacks by Monsanto. I missed the bidding, but love what the image captures. Note the logo which -it just so happens since I'm a visual packrat- I have a color close-up of.

A different place in time.

In those days, Monsanto was in the polyester business [remember polyester double knit suits, even for men?] and polyester captured a look and style that absolutely signaled hip, with-it and totally in.

My friend, Gary Petersen, who hired me into Monsanto, would regale us young ones with tales of the days when seriously suited men in St. Louis would prognosticate about the inevitable adoption across corporate America of polyester menswear. He alone had the temerity to stand up and ask all those around the boardroom table whether they intended to adopt polyester, for they were the target audience!

These, too, were the times when Wear-Dated had taken over the Macy's Times Square mezzanine level with the trendiest polyester womenswear.

My, how times change.

When I joined Monsanto in 1993, we had long exited the polyester business, as well as menswear. We were still, though, in the womenswear and childrenswear business with Wear-Dated [i.e., acrylic fleece and knits] Acrilan acrylic fiber. I inherited a dated look [see logo with blue square], that I had the unique privilege of updating several times - for apparel, and then later on more dramatically for the Acrilan acrylic upholstered fabric business.

Here you see the updated childrenswear version.

The logo update for the Wear-Dated upholstered fabric business went far beyond a cosmetic retouch. Rather, we took the opportunity to reinvent the business and the new logo embodied the thought process and repositioning.

Wear-Dated has always been about reassuring the consumer that those elements [namely contents and construction] that are downright difficult to evaluate fully from inside a store will perform. It represents peace-of-mind.

A product made with Wear-Dated fiber - to be considered Wear-Dated [i.e., think seal of approval] - undergoes rigorous testing to determine how well it meets performance standards and whether it has been constructed to certain parameters.

Once successfully "tough-tested", it can then carry the Wear-Dated brand and a warranty on the finished product to the consumer [even though we only make the fiber, not the finished product].

When I inherited the Wear-Dated upholstery business in 1997, we had successfully established ourselves as a player in the residential upholstery industry - especially for "motion" furniture [i.e., reclining chairs and sofas]. Our industrial look worked well. We learned, though, that the industry was rapidly transitioning beyond performance [and motion] to very fashionable stationary furniture. And, we just didn't exude fashion.

After a great deal of research and market exploration, we chose this look for the Wear-Dated upholstery business:

It worked well until we shut the business down early on in our bankruptcy process.

Luckily, the story doesn't end there as we have a very successful Wear-Dated nylon carpet fiber business - of which I am a part.

The Wear-Dated logo for carpet fiber has been through some changes as you can see from Signs of Another Brand Trail [and a few beyond that photo]. The most current version, here, also gets beyond the original industrial look and feel. Indeed, fashion is absolutely the name of the game for carpet and anything else going into our shopper's home.

In case you missed the story of how Wear-Dated came about, read Creation Stories. It will take you to a different time in New York City.

I bet you have an amazing story that captures your evolution since starting out. Do you share that story? Some companies, like La-Z-Boy, make a point of showcasing that story in their stores, even though they have progressed beyond the original category that brought them to the marketplace.

How has your brand evolved since its beginnings?

How do you share your brand story?

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