Levi’s Needs to Embrace Storytelling to Revitalize the Brand

October 24, 2013 — Leave a comment

Levi’s has one of the best stories of any brand in the United States, if not the world. It is an iconic brand. Levi’s is the original blue jean. It has an incredible heritage and is a symbol of youthful rebellion. Levi’s always worked hard to balance making profits with doing the right thing. Strong core values informed how business was conducted. The company gives back to the community and supports many charitable causes. Levi’s is a leader in sustainable manufacturing and responsible sourcing.

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This week, the Levi’s Brand announced that it was parting ways with its advertising agency Weiden and Kennedy after a five-year-stint. The brand has struggled in recent years and stopped growing. It has had a series of leadership changes. The brand has lost touch with its core purpose. Levi’s has failed to engage and inspire consumers with meaningful stories. As a result, Levi’s has struggled to stay relevant with consumers.

In recent years, the brand has tried hard to regain relevance with younger consumers. Many of their recent marketing campaigns have tried too hard to be cool and often seemed very exclusive. Much of their recent advertising feels dark, somber and not for me. The classic Levi’s 501 Blues Campaign from the 1980’s connected emotionally with a diverse audience of consumers on multiple levels. More than anything it was an inclusive campaign that made people feel good about the brand.

Twenty years ago if you visited a high school or college campus, you would see Levi’s Jean everywhere. Levi’s was clearly the blue jean brand of choice. Today if you visit a high school or college campus you see very few pairs of Levi’s being worn.

Rather than hire an advertising agency, I recommend that Levi’s hire a Brand Journalist to help them connect the stories of their past with the stories of their current users. The brand’s loyal followers have great stories. Its time Levi’s told the stories of its most passionate customers and stopped trying to be cool. It is a great story, tell it in a simple inclusive way.

I worked for Levi’s in marketing for nine years. I am passionate about the brand. I hope they turn it around.

What is your favorite brand of blue jeans?

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