Brand Marketing Tips From The North Face CMO Steve Lesnard

Marketing isn’t what it used to be, and Steve Lesnard, who recently took over as CMO at The North Face, is one of those leading a new generation of marketing practices.

At one time, mass marketing was king. Companies delivered the same message to a wide audience via media such as television and magazines. With the technology choices available today, marketing is more targeted.

Today’s marketing is more than just advertising. And it’s more than just using new technologies and media to reach your potential customers.

Technology is vital, but what really matters for Steve Lesnard is building a brand that understands its customers and relates to them in a personal fashion. Here are three tips from Lesnard on how to do that.

Brand Marketing Tip: Companies with a Strong Purpose Stand Out

The North Faces sells outdoor and mountaineering clothing and equipment, but its brand purpose runs deeper than peddling product. Its purpose is to inspire adventurers and provide equipment to live out those inspirations. With that kind of central purpose, it follows naturally that The North Face is also committed to preserving the outdoor environment for generations to come.

It’s not enough to state a commitment; the brand has to live it. For example, The North Face works with its suppliers to reduce manufacturing waste and contamination. Also, its latest New York flagship store features reclaimed woods and low volatile organic compound (VOC) paints.

Steven Lesnard is willing to take risks to make it clear what The North Face brand stands for. Earlier in 2020, The North Face boycotted and pulled its advertising from Facebook because of Facebook’s reluctance to confront misinformation and hate speech on its site. It became the first major brand to align with the “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign. After two months, The North Face resumed Facebook advertising when Facebook expressed a willingness to dialog about fixing the problems.

Brand Marketing Tip: Add Value, Build Trust, Inspire Loyalty

Today consumers have no patience with insincerity. A short-term tactic aimed solely at boosting sales won’t support long-term brand success. A brand must show customers it can provide value and make customers’ lives better. It has to earn customers’ trust and make them comfortable supporting the brand over the years.

With its in-store expedition guides and its simulated basecamp, The North Face shows it can make adventure possible and provide the tools for the customer’s next trip and also the ones after that.

However, the customer-friendly store wouldn’t go far without product to back it up. The North Face’s latest clothing material is Futurelight, a super-thin fabric designed to be both waterproof and breathable. Lesnard contends that the best way to make a brand sustainable is to build a product that lasts a lifetime, which is what Futurelight is manufactured to do.

Brand Marketing Tip: Personalization at Scale

According to Steve Lesnard, this means offering the right product to the right person at the right time. To do this, it’s vital to know the customer, so you can give them, as Lesnard says, “exactly what they want, when they want it, and how they want it.”

There’s more opportunity than ever to capture customer information, but personalization at scale requires not just generic facts but an understanding of their desires and aspirations. At The North Face, this means responding to how customers want to use outdoor gear by providing in-store instruction and experiences.

About Steve Lesnard

Steve Lesnard enjoys martial arts, running, snowboarding, kite surfing and any activity that gives him time outdoors. He lives in Denver with his wife and three children.

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