Macy's this week announced a new brand platform, Own Your Style, described in a press release as "a key step within the company's Polaris strategy," its turnaround plan announced two years ago. The effort, which launches this month, includes "a refreshed brand identity" geared to fashion.
Online, Own Your Style will offer "simplified global navigation, a refreshed, modern search bar and a personalized customer dashboard," with a digital hub that will be “a curated destination for style inspiration."
In stores, digital screens will provide style guidance and product displays, and curated Own Your Style and Now Trending pavilions will rotate monthly. Associates can earn commissions as part of the Macy's Style Crew, adhering to "a reimagined dress code that celebrates self-expression to inspire customers," posting about fashion on their own social media feeds and advising store customers.
This marketing effort is centered on what Macy's says is its role as a fashion destination and relies on its own store employees to serve as micro-influencers — a role department stores have arguably had, to varying degrees of success — for eons.
After recently refusing to split off its digital operations amid activist pressure, Macy's may also be eager to show investors the importance of its omnichannel approach. Its press release amplifies its voice from the C-suite, featuring a statement from Macy's chief brand officer Rich Lennox, and emphasizes its turnaround strategy.
"Style is unique to the individual. We will help our customers express their personal style through personalized data-driven recommendations and expert advice that will differentiate us in a cluttered marketplace," Lennox said. "This brand transformation will enhance our customer's shopping experience with more personal touchpoints and offer them true value and style that they can own."
That would be more convincing if a statement came from any actual influencers who will be involved in Own Your Style, or used language reflecting that the project was developed with Macy's customers in mind, according to retail consultant Brian Kelly, who described the announcement as having an early-internet, MySpace vibe.
"Now you get exposed to 'Polaris,' with all the other messaging that's come out from Macy's because they've been so frantic, trying to figure out what they stand for and who they are," Kelly said by phone. "None of that resonates and nothing comes behind a single-minded idea. The challenge is to get this thing boiled down to something really easy to understand."
Furthermore, the idea's premise — "Fashion is what you buy, Style is what you own" — is off, according to Kelly.
"Well that's a helluva line. I don't think you buy fashion. I think fashion is that search, that thing you're constantly looking for. No, it isn't about buying. I mean, that's what you want them to do, but that's not what the consumer is thinking about."