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3 Things Small Brands Can Learn From Payless and Palessi



A couple of weeks ago, the Palessi scandal took the world by storm. Shoe seller, Payless, did an experiment where it "rebranded" itself as a luxury, upscale store that sold high end footwear and invited influencers out to its opening. But it's Payless and one would think that people would be able to differentiate between the shoes that our grandmothers' wore to Sunday service and shoes that one could only find at Nordstrom's, Saks 5th, Bergdorf Goodman, and Neiman Marcus. There'd be an evident difference right? WRONG! These influencers took to buying $19 shoes for $600 at the 'exclusive event' and even remarked on the 'quality materials' they were made from. And it was the face palm heard 'round the world.


While there was a major lesson in perception, there was an even bigger lesson for small brands. Elon Musk said, "Brand is just a perception, and perception will match reality over time." and this experiment proved him right. Below are 3 things we think small brands could learn from Payless and Palessi.


  1. Create the value in your brand through heightened experiences. Consumers and clients buy in to brands through experiences. Experiences with your brand include content, events, and interactive campaigns. The trend now is creating an experience that allows for a 'co-creation' feel. Don't feel like you aren't as valuable as a big brand because of your size. Focus on creating experiences that are share worthy and unique for your audience.

  2. It's hard to overcome the initial precepts and thoughts about your brand without, possibly, unbecoming and rebecoming something else. Payless has ALWAYS been known as the 'granny' store for shoes. Typically the place where women go to buy comfortable flats on the go, Payless recognized the devaluing association with their products and opted to show the value to people who normally wouldn't pay them any mind. This is true for rebranding, in some cases. In the event that your brand has grown stagnant and you have identified a consistent theme and idea surrounding your brand's value, there is nothing wrong with going back to the drawing board and revamping. Unbecome the generalized stereotype and rebecome an amazing brand full of possibility. **Side note: Book your FREE consultation to learn more about Neu IMC's Brand 180 strategy package**

  3. Sometimes, highlighting your weaknesses and 'laughable traits' showcase your strengths and potential. Jean Houston says "At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities." Identify your weaknesses and bring them to the forefront. Let your audience know where you fall short and let them know that you are aware and are making changes. Kind of like the 8Mile Marketing plan. Remember when Rabbit roasted himself so his competition and the audience couldn't do it? This is that without the vomit on the hoody, the trailer park, the friend with the self-inflicted gun wound and Mekhi Phifer in a bad dreadlock wig. In identifying your weaknesses and letting your audience know that you are working on the solution, you show that you care about your brand and your business. Don't be afraid of being the small brand in a big brand world...instead, embrace your size and show how you can compete with the big dogs.

Happy branding, guys. Until next time!