It's been a long time since I wrote anything under this subject, but today it seems clear that a reprise is necessary.

Image:Branding is the hardest part of marketing, special Chicago edition

Eight days early, Federated Department Stores has pulled down the remaining Field's signs at most of the remaining Marshall Field's locations, going from distinctive green to repulsive red.

Image:Branding is the hardest part of marketing, special Chicago edition

There was a time where it was looking like I was going to start my career out of college at Marshall Field's.  During my senior year of college, I hadn't yet decided to go into IT professionally.  A part of me very much wanted to be in retail, with the eventual goal of opening my own bookstore.  A lot of factors made that path not a good idea, but I came pretty close to starting out in retail buying/store management with Field's.  BAT's decision to sell the company to Dayton-Hudson got in the way of them making any job offers that spring, and I ended up going in a different direction.  Oddly, it almost would have been with IBM, but that's another story.

Anyway, as an almost-lifetime Chicagoan, with fond memories of Frango mints, the holiday windows on State Street, the Walnut Room, buying my first work wardrobe, a wedding registry, and everything else, today is a day of mourning.  I did actually walk into a now-Macy's yesterday, but I was saddened by what I saw.  The merchandise has gone down a rung on the quality ladder, with more house brands and fewer name brands.  There were spiffy new signs in the store, but they even managed to get those wrong down on State Street.

To make things even sadder, I walked into one of Field's/Macy's sister department stores in the same mall yesterday -- and was even more depressed.  If they had anything in the men's department that anyone would actually buy, I sure didn't see it.

Every poll, survey, and test I've seen says that the Field's brand had tremendous equity and actually stood for something (unlike a lot of the other regional department stores-turned-Macy's).  It stood for something more than Macy's does.  I wonder why they didn't turn Field's into Bloomingdale's -- that would have been a closer match, IMHO.  Or just find room for the brand.  Instead, I got this 40 page glossy catalog-like thing telling me how red and Macy's go together, and about the parade in New York, and blah blah blah.  It came with a $10 coupon, and the new credit card came with a 20% off one.  I don't care.  It's all over for me, just one more nail in the coffin of actually going to a store to buy clothes.  And maybe in time I'll get over it, but I doubt it.  It just won't be the same.

(Reminder: Standard disclaimer that this is my opinion, not IBM's, applies...)

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