Fifth & Pacific was formally announced today as a replacement for the well-known Liz Claiborne moniker, naming the company that owns fashion brands including Lucky, Kate Spade, and Juicy Couture.
More than the name itself, we’re impressed by the way in which it was introduced to employees and shareholders: via a video revealing the name with well-articulated strategic rationale, and mood-setting footage to bring the story to life with confidence and enthusiasm. It’s this type of treatment that gives names more depth. Of course, to accomplish that in the first place, you need a name with depth.
BRAND ARTICULATION: 5/5 (Leader)
As they put it, the name suggests an intersection of styles that reflects the diversity of brands and customer segments their holdings represent. The geographic breadth and tone of style and worldliness create an expansive backdrop for their company to expand and grow – while staying relevant to the current brands that define them. In short, the name is flexible and dynamic, while at the same time evocative and true to their core personality. McComb confirmed that the name was not focus grouped prior to the announcement: indicative of the confidence and internal alignment around a name – which tends to come from names that feel more true to the corporate vision. (Unless they were just…Lucky.)
AUDIENCE IMPACT: 4/5 (Creates Advantage)
Naming a holding company presents a unique set of circumstances, as the core audience is not the end consumer but the investors and employees that fuel the growth and evolution of the business. So while consumer motivation is not the core focus, motivation of a different kind is still vital. Fifth & Pacific clearly imparts size and strength – as well as the defining tone as a lifestyle brand: motivating themes for investors seeking growth in the fashion retail space. The evocative image of an intersection – a visual of waves and palm trees colliding with bustling Manhattan sidewalks – positions the brand in dynamic fashion. And the URL and ticker symbol clarity only strengthens that ease of association.
Linguistically, the name is a bit of a mouthful – something that Daffy Duck might have a fun time saying – but is unlikely to pose any significant negative, given the ubiquity of the words themselves. Overall, it’s the tone of this name that gives it its motivating impact. As McComb put it, “There needed to be some chic-ness to it, and not in a contrived way. We didn’t want it to sound like a hedge fund, a Silicon Valley high-tech company or a law firm. Fifth & Pacific is not a consumer brand, but it’s a brand to investors and we wanted it to feel consistent with our consumer brands without stepping on them or overpowering them.” The name accomplishes this goal in…Spades.
COMPETITIVE DISTINCTION: 3/5 (Neutral Impact)
While reflective of the bi-coastal heritage of its collection of brands, Fifth & Pacific does use rather broad, undifferentiating language. Both words appear in other well known retail/fashion brand names from Saks Fifth Avenue to OP to PacSun. And Brandchannel was quick to point out the name’s structural similarities to Forth & Towne, Park & Bond, and Treasure & Bond. Throw in names like H&M and Abercrombie & Fitch…the ampersand is a staple of “style.” Again, it’s important to remember that competition is in the eyes of investors more than customers, yet the name may have benefitted from something a bit less expected. Something a bit more…Juicy?