Critcial Journal: French Connection Lauren Campbell 33494170
1.0 Research 2.0 Marketing concept 2.1 Online Launch- Social Media and Website 2.2 In-Store Launch- Windows and Store layout. 3.0 Critical Reflection
The ‘innovative’ and ‘fashion-forward clothing range’, French Connection, was founded in the early 1970’s by Stephen Marks (frenchconnection.com) with a key aim to provide good quality products at an affordable price. They pride themselves on their unique design and a strong sense of brand identity, recognising that visual design instore and online are important platforms to accentuate house style. Their target market age category is 25-35 year old “fashion conscious” individuals. But despite being categorised as highstreet, due to their price range they comfortably sit within the premium section of this sector, alongside other stores such as Whistles and Mango. By using statistics that presented their current target audience, their products could then be compared against similar style high-street stores such as Zara to consider how consumers are getting the best value for their money.
In doing so, it was found that in comparison to these stores French Connection’s products were almost doubled in price, defying them as a premium high-street brand. It was then possible to utilise this knowledge to suggest whether the price of their products has been affecting their target market and if so, how could French Collection be re-branded to appeal to a wider consumer range?
To visualise how a remodel of the brand would look, Pinterest could be utilized as a platform for an interactive mood board using colours, materials and aesthetics to conceptualise the new brand identity and using a gender neutrality campaign as a platform for change. Research also included a trip to the French Connection store in Leeds city centre, Briggate. The store gave an insight of their current brand image and projected their ‘head turning window displays’, which in fact disappointed due to their lack of imagination and over minimalised finish. Attending the physical store also offers an opportunity to study, first hand, the consumers engaging with the brand on a daily-basis.
Campaigns Over the years they have had a range of innovative campaigns including “I am”, the collection, released in 2014 which exaggerated the fact that their brand has something to offer for every area of man or woman (campaignlive.com). However, most synonymous with the brand is their 2009 FCUK campaign, which used their brands initials as a play on words in a risqué tongue-incheek sense. The campaign was initially hugely successful and catapulted French Connection into the spotlight, causing a stir in the fashion industry through controversy.
Although their FCUK campaign was widely successful, it was a phase that French connection unfortunately grew out of after exhausting every slogan tee they could follow up with such as “FCUK Fashion” and “too busy to FCUK”. Following the current industry’s 90’s revival in fashion, French connection attempted to revive their infamous campaign in 2016, only to receive a bundle of backlash from press such as Drapers Magazine headlining the brand as “tacky and tired”. Another reported the brand as going through an identity crisis, which doesn’t reflect well on French Connection as they pride themselves on their strong sense of style.
(Frenchconnection. com, 2017)
(Two point zero)
(Photographed by: Lauren Campbell, 2018)
2.1 Marketing Concept The gender-neutral campaign entitled “He for She” will be used as a platform of brand rejuvenation for French Connection. By doing this it allows the company to present themselves as current and relatable, the brand rejuvenation will attract a more diverse and younger target audience whilst also maintaining their loyal customer base by remaining true to the brand identity/ style of products. The gender-neutral campaign will keep within the current brand identity of French Connection, utilising craftsmanship and the sophisticated style of the brand. The line will include a collection of ungendered tailored smart-casual products including culottes, skorts, tailored trousers and shirts that both men and women can wear. This collection won’t be positioned solely on its own section within stores, but more so intertwined within existing menswear and womenswear collections amongst all sections of the store layout, this emphasises that the collection or movement is not a fad but it is something that should be accepted as a societal change.
2.2. Online Launch To celebrate the collection, taster promo videos will be released for the campaign via social media (Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and Twitter) in the run up to the collection drop. The promo’s will feature both men and women wearing the same outfit styled differently to promote that each piece in the collection can be worn to each personality and identity. The initial videos will only feature the clothing and up close shots of the facial features without drawing attention to the gender of each individual. This will create hype and spur word of mouth through heightened levels of intrigue adapted through buzz marketing.
French Connection will also collaborate with bloggers and social influencers to spread awareness of the brand and create desire through celebrity endorsement. Social media marketing is hugely important not only in captivating a younger audience but also a wider one. To reach as many consumers as possible, French Connection will also advertise on popular platforms such as snapchat, featuring in short bursts to grab attention and sub-consciously raise awareness/recognition.
(Instagram Mock-up: By Lauren Campbell, 2018)
2.3 In-store Launch During the run-up to the collection release, in-store promotion will utilise guerrilla marketing, using wall stickers, special edition bags and tissue paper for their customers. Each will feature the new branding of the company, including the collectionâ€™s logo and colour schemes throughout. This concept will begin to raise awareness across the concept as these bags and wall sticker can start to be recognised throughout cities, the ambiguity of the design will intrigue consumers and increase desire to be a part of the movement.
Final tissue paper design
2.4 Product Mock-upâ€™s
BILLBOARD 1 (Design: Lauren Campbell, 2018 Image: Unsplash.com)
BILLBOARD 2 (Designed by lauren Campbell, 2018) Photgraphy: Lauren Campbell
These billboards that I designed will be used for pre-release advertising, in the hope to grab consumers attention and leave them wondering what they are about. The initial billboards are design 1, these contain only the collectionâ€™s slogan â€œBreak the mouldâ€? and the logo. The second billboard design will be released during the hype in the run up to the collection drop, this design gives a sense of the brand identity through the model and builds excitement among the consumer. Another billboard would be released following this concept however with a male model too to show the diversity of the styling.
Lauren Campbell, 2018 These are my final packagaing concepts including tags and tissue paper, I kept continutinety throughout my packagaing to represent the same colours, geometric shapes, the logo and the collections slogan. This gives a really strong brand image and epitomises the stregth of the collection.The final wall sticker concept is also featured which perfectly ties in with the packagaing making the brand image recognisable and memorable.
Lauren Campbell, 2018
Lauren Campbell, 2018
(Three Point Zero)
(Logo Designed by: Lauren Campbell, 2018)
I think my logo and concept successfully captured the gender-neutral brief assigned through a non-confirmative approach to menswear and womenswear. Once I reinvented my original brand image idea’s then I had a stronger identity that reflected the fun and youthful approach that I was trying to portray, to rejuvenate the brand and target a younger, more diverse audience. My concept will help reinvent the brand to remind consumers of French Connection aside from their FCUK campaigns. On the other hand, my product mock-ups could have been stronger in their branding, I felt as though despite their obvious conformity to the current brand image to retain loyal consumers, I could have gone out of the box a little more to adapt some of the more recent catwalk concepts or fashion designs iconic in styles today. I also feel that the sub-brand name ‘He for She’ became lost within my designs and logo layouts. Despite it being a prominent aspect of the concept in my mind I think it began to lose importance in my marketing once i had created the slogan “Break the Mould” which could be reconsidered as the collection’s name.
(Sketches: Lauren Campbell, 2018)
My marketing concept is industry leading, I have considered not only the product/collection which has been done by other mainstream high street brands such as H&M and Zara, but I have also looked at the in-store design, rebranding and marketing. I have understood that part of the reason French Connection are currently being forgotten about amongst mainstream high-street stores is due to their stores lacking lustre; their dull shopping window displays do not grab the eye of the consumer and therefore people are not draw shop and interact with the brand. By rejuvenating the brand in-store through modern interior designs it will make the brand appeal more aesthetically pleasing and desirable. Gender neutral fashion has a global appeal; androgyny has played a big role within the fashion world for years therefore an ungendered clothing range would appeal to the majority of fashion conscious individuals. The collection isnâ€™t binary to gender, culture or race therefore targets a wide platform of potential new consumers for the brand on a world-wide scale. This sub-brand for a gender-neutral clothing collection hopes to be only the first branch out for the adapting brand of French Connection. In the future, the concept could be utilised to cover a range of rising social issues such as sustainability and recycling, third wave feminism and multi-cultural fashion across the globe. The brand can study future trend forecasts and act appropriately to stay current with social issues or runway styles however, French Connection must do so in a way that is intelligent, sophisticated and trendy. By knowing their brand identity which is made up of tailoring, craftsmanship and style they can act according to trends in a manner that doesnâ€™t seem as if French Connection is trying to rival with other high-street competitors because they are unique. This attitude targets and appeals a set of young, stylish individuals young and old who donâ€™t want to look like everyone else.