How Levi’s Became a Brand With Staying Power

March 28, 2015 - fall Denim

In a consumer enlightenment of shiny-new-object syndrome, it is increasingly doubtful that a brand will survive—much reduction thrive—for some-more than a few seasons. But for 162 years, Levi Strauss Co. has finished customarily that. The staying energy of a Levi’s formula stands out resolutely in this epoch of pop-up stores, Snapchat-style startups and passing loyalty.

For perspective, cruise that when Levi Strauss emigrated in 1853 from Buttenheim, Bavaria, to a U.S. and founded his company, there were customarily 31 American states. Another 32 years would pass before a vehicle was developed. Among iconic U.S. brands, customarily Anheuser-Busch (founded in 1852) has been around longer than Levi’s. (Coca-Cola came about in 1892; Ford in 1903.) 

And nonetheless Levi’s stays a formidable formula today. Fiscal 2014 income increasing 2 percent over a prior year to $4.68 billion, and a association commands a top share of a tellurian jeans market. Retailers credit Levi’s for carrying singular formula resources they can’t get from other lines. As Gary Oneil, former artistic executive for J.C. Penney, explains, “Levi’s has turn a formula titan that beam opposite lifestyle, gender … this allows retailers to expel a extended net that captures a opposite patron base.” 

Moreover, Levi’s continues to be deliberate hip. Complex, a website clinging to twentysomething males, listed Levi’s among a “15 Brands Hipsters Love,” alongside Band of Outsiders and other indie designers. Sightings of Levi’s-clad celebrities fill a pages of character and pop-culture media. 

Shawn Parr, control of San Diego-based formula and creation consultancy Bulldog Drummond, whose clients embody adidas, American Eagle Outfitters and Nike, observes, “Levi’s is like a Rolling Stones or Johnny Cash. They’re one of a all-time greats who challenge and conclude a category, and though them, a genre wouldn’t be a same.” 

The tip to a longevity of Levi’s indeed isn’t a tip during all. The association uses classical brand-building beliefs to say and grow a formula equity. These are elemental ideals that sojourn a keys to building a formula with staying power. 

Commit and stay committed.

Above all else, Levi’s is authentic—and fiercely committed to progressing and reinforcing that authenticity.  

The association got a start by offered built-to-last pants to miners during a California bullion rush. Demand widespread opposite a nation, and as pioneering gave approach to production in a mercantile landscape of a early 1900s, Levi’s became a wardrobe of choice for a operative class.

During a midcentury deindustrialization period, a company’s denim became renouned among rebel girl subcultures. Its tender as a genuine, strange formula resonated with greasers and hippies alike. 


In a mid-1980s, Levi’s launched a debate compelling a classical 501s, that rekindled fad and direct for a five-pocket jean creatively introduced some-more than 100 years earlier. The association returned to a bid again in a late 2000s. 

“People adore a strange 501 given it is timeless,” comments Levi’s CMO Jennifer Sey. “As a formula that’s been around for  some-more than 160 years, we have dressed a lot of people and been a partial of many great, pivotal storytelling moments.” 

These days, authenticity is one of a many common business buzzwords and preferred formula traits—and with good reason. The Authentic Brand Index (ABI) has shown that a stronger a brand’s viewed authenticity, the more expected people are to become advocates for it. Authenticity, ABI’s analysts observe, helps fuel success in today’s markets as consumers hunt for larger definition and sincerity from a brands they choose. People enterprise to bond with products that feel protected and certain. Levi’s clearly identifies a core purpose, attributes and value—and afterwards uses them as a compass for all it does. This resonates quite with today’s successful immature consumers.

“Brands that emanate purpose win Millennials’ hearts, and brands that are opposite and authentic win their minds,” says Jeff Fromm, co-author of Marketing to Millennials.

Go for an emotional response.

The peculiarity and firmness of Levi’s products is unquestionable. The rivets on a jeans have turn a customary around a world, and a signature red-stitched selvage and double-needle stitching are higher pattern details. But a company’s formula messages have done a some-more culturally poignant appeal.

Starting in a 1950s with imitation ads featuring luminary bad boys like Marlon Brando, and stability into a late ’60s with counterculture radio spots set to unusual song from Jefferson Airplane, Levi’s sought to make a absolute romantic tie with its audience. In a ’70s and ’80s, Levi’s incited to TV, capturing consumer courtesy with vignettes that were risqué during a time, including a blurb starring indication Nick Kamen stripping down to his boxers in a laundromat. The spots desirous a abdominal response. 


More recently, in 2009 Levi’s influenced viewers with an expertly crafted and beautifully shot debate patrician “Go Forth.” The array of mini-films sets black-and-white images of a Hurricane Katrina-ravaged New Orleans opposite a soundtrack of Walt Whitman poetry. By celebrating a “brand for pioneers who are in a routine of building a new America,” Levi’s once again managed to constraint and communicate a singular spirit. 

In any of these campaigns, Levi’s stoked passion for a formula though describing a things or compelling product features. In fact, it could be pronounced that Levi’s promotion has evenly avoided offered a products—aiming instead for an romantic tie with consumers. 

“We’ve been there with people for many of their good and defining life experiences—big and small,” Sey explains. “From initial dates to a initial day of propagandize … a pursuit as marketers is to foster and amplify that good storytelling to expostulate low engagement.”

Defy a trends.

All brands need to develop to sojourn relevant. Levi’s, notwithstanding a absolute formula equity it has established, is no exception. But a association favors progressing a formula firmness over jumping onto a latest trends.

“What has kept Levi’s in a forefront of a ever-changing jean universe is their marketplace research— how they exam product with a variety of opposite retailers and use that feedback to residence several fits, washes and conform elements to stay current,” says Billy Rudnick, ubiquitous merchandising manager for New York tradesman Dr. Jays. “But they never go too distant into a gimmicks that have misled many good companies.” 

At times, this position caused the association to tumble behind. In the early 2000s, for example, a pattern group was late to pierce into renouned new conform directions like colored denim for women and tailored jeans for men. As a result, sales plummeted. 

But in many other instances, Levi’s was forward of a time, especially in areas of amicable responsibility. Way behind in a 1890s, Levi Strauss determined scholarships for students during a University of California, Berkeley, and ever since, a association has pursued a goal that executives call “profits by principles.” 

Strauss’ great-great-grand-nephew Robert Haas, CEO from 1984 to 1999, launched a production formula of control for abroad suppliers. He was also a initial Fortune 500 CEO to extend medical advantages to employees’ domestic partners and one of a beginning corporate executives to champion appropriation for HIV/AIDS research.


Adds Sey: “We invented a blue jean, supposing a first-ever women’s jean, and continue to innovate currently formed on consumer need with greener products, including a Water

While many companies hunt for ways to modernize, innovations during Levi’s mostly plead a brand’s history. For example, a latest version of a visible identity features an updated trademark formed on a strange batwing designed for a association scarcely 50 years ago by Walter Landor. Other elements of a “new” temperament embody a figure of a stitching that has been on a behind pockets for some-more than a century, a modernized delivery of a two-horse symbol and a summary “Patented 1873.” 

Marketing strategies also tie strongly to a brand’s story and values. In 2013 Levi’s hold a array of concerts along a oldest U.S. railway route, with stops in tiny towns. Social media selling communications, meanwhile, offer to teach consumers about issues such as H2O conservation, or to support amicable probity leaders, as most as to foster products.

Levi’s recognizes that trend-following might be a simplest approach to attract courtesy and lift short-term revenue, though following someone else’s lead customarily causes a association to wandering from a possess formula identity. At times in Levi’s history, a managers schooled this doctrine a tough way. Branding consultant Parr says Levi’s has “always got to watch that they’re not perplexing too tough or to be something they’re not. They’ve been during their best when they are gentle being Levi’s, disposition on a past, though being risk-takers.”

A demeanour during Levi’s offers discernment into a commitment, bravery and coherence that goes into creation a good brand. One of a nation’s longest-standing companies, it thrives on a temperament as an strange American formula in an increasingly tellurian marketplace. It represents individuality and rebelliousness while appealing broadly, and it offers accessibility in an attention that thrives on exclusivity. 

The informative inflection of Levi’s has withstood a ups and downs of a economy, conform trends and a business itself. Even some-more than a products, a Levi’s formula was built to last. 

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Learn a secrets of staying energy from a 162-year-old company

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