Lighthouse Shows Lands’ End The Way

Corporate Design Foundation: Lands’ End enjoyed a loyal following and a successful marketing strategy, but after 40 years in business, it saw its brand image looking tired and frayed at the edges. In the process of revitalizing its identity, Lands’ End introduced a graphic system that brought order to its catalogs and higher visibility to its brand.
For a fresh perspective, Lands’ End looked outside the industry, hiring Lee Eisenberg, long–time editor of Esquire and special projects manager of Time, as executive vice president in charge of creative marketing.
“Without frightening off loyal Lands’ End customers, my charge was to update the brand and make it more style–right,” explains Eisenberg. “Lands’ End is a brand that made its mark in an innovative way by not worrying about all the things that brands worry about. It communicated pretty much verbally in a straightforward and literate way with highly educated and literate customers. It put things in catalogs that had nothing to do with clothes [e.g., editorial contributions by the likes of Garrison Keillor and Tom Brokaw]. That was the glue that connected the readers to the brand.”
At the same time, Eisenberg adds, “As the company grew, a lot of different parts, such as the home furnishings and kids catalogs, grew up separate, and there was never much of an attempt to knit them together through brand graphics.” For Eisenberg, the challenge was to make the graphics consistent without making them “bloodless and slick.”
For design support, he turned to DJ Stout, who had just left his position as art director of Texas Monthly to become a partner at Pentagram in Austin. Years earlier Eisenberg had tried to hire Stout as art director of Esquire, but Stout, a fifth–generation Texan, stayed at Texas Monthly instead. Now Eisenberg asked him to create cover concepts for the core catalog.
“DJ preserved much of what was associated with Lands’ End,” praises Eisenberg. “A testament to his success is that when the new logo was introduced, we did not get one adverse letter or call. And this is an extremely involved group of customers. Nobody said, ‘You took away my Lands’ End; you sold out.'” The makeover did increase sales, though.
Lands’ End embraced the lighthouse design as its corporate logo and planned to implement it on packaging and product labels, but the program had to be put on hold when Sears purchased the company in 2002. Sears was rightfully concerned that a major change in brand identity at that time might confuse customers and lead them to believe that the products sold in its stores were not authentic Lands’ End merchandise.
The company is currently integrating the lighthouse corporate logo across all media.

About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am now head of brand strategy and creative direction at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.