Finding My Sole Mate: A Tale of Two Brands

Written by Kimberly MacArthur Graham on March 30, 2015


Finding Your Sole Mate

Recently, I was in the market for some new “Casual Friday” shoes. (Some would claim that my “shoe market” is always open.) I’m going to start by saying I am not a fan of Casual Friday – even though as the company owner, I’m the one who instituted it at Layer Cake. It’s not so much the occasional sartorial lapses of employees (yes, “office casual” is different from “watching football on TV” casual).  It’s my own inability to dress casually. When I wear jeans to work, I don’t have the same confidence. I have accepted this about myself, and come up with my own dress code, which I call, “Funky Friday.” I might wear a wilder-than-usual tights or my zebra-stripe jacket. Which brings me to the shoes.

Somehow, I found myself with two final candidates that couldn’t be more different: John Fluevog and Tom’s Shoes.

Fluevog is a style icon whose small runs of exquisitely “naughty/nice” shoes are meticulously displayed and priced accordingly. The brand feels edgy, cool, brash, and funny – and hey, maybe I would be, too, with Fluevogs on my feet!

Tom’s Shoes is opposite in nearly every way. These well-made but unfancy shoes are known mostly for the company’s “One for One” program, which donates one pair of their shoes for every pair purchased. Their commitment to service has proven to be a powerful message, especially among younger consumers, and the company has expanded into multiple markets and causes. The brand is socially aware and so are you by the simple act of purchasing their product.

The sole reason (pun intended) I found myself eyeing these two options? I was sucked right into wanting what they promised. As a branding professional, I am more than ok with that. I tip my hat to the power of a good brand.

Why did they work? Well, in simplest terms, both brands had 3 basic ingredients:

1 – A strong identity (Do I buy the shoes associated with glamour or good deeds?)

2 – A clear message (Buy the shoes and you’re one of us.)

3 – A defined outcome (Buy the shoes!!)

In the end, I picked the Fluevogs. And every time I put them on, I feel pretty good. And guess what? Tom’s inspired me to start defining Layer Cake’s path to  giving back. And that feels even better!

Posted Under: Branding, Marketing, Messaging
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