A Chat with Christophe Gaigneux,EVP, Boston Apparel Group,
Another thing that was a challenge was promoting a branding culture. We were really a merchandising driven company, but not yet brand focused.
CS: What did you do to overcome those challenges?
CG: Well, there were two problems there, so with the first, the cultural changes, I listened a lot. I had to meet a lot of people. I had to walk the floors, engage in a lot of observation. In terms of pushing people to speak up, I did a few things. First, I recognized in public a few different viewpoints other than my own, in order to get people to be comfortable sharing their views and thoughts. We also had something interesting which helped me. It was a company-wide initiative. We created a contest based around idea generation. That initiative worked really well. In general it worked to empower people to guide instead of tell. It established team objectives on top of individual objectives. We recognized team efforts as well as individual efforts. We wanted to make people understand that the team partnership was just as important as individual achievements. Especially in our business. The head needs to move with the rest of the body - in sync. Also, as it relates to supporting the team, when you talk about promoting people, you have to support the team in taking risks. When people are promoted, the team has to support that person's promotions and decisions and ability to lead. You always take a risk when you promote someone, but we think the risk is less when you promote internally rather than going outside. We had to push people to promote internally.
About branding, we've launched, since I started in 2003, marketing research and focus groups for each one of the brands to better understand our customer. We also leveraged our Redcats corporate branding seminar. We have a very well rounded branding seminar that has helped me to establish a brand platform and positioning for all of the brands. That's also about empowering people. The brand managers were in charge of getting with their teams about all of the research we did as well as come up with their own positioning proposals with an action plan. This sort of thing doesn't come in six months. It took me two years to get all four of the brands to have a solid analysis of their platforms and positioning, along with a plan they could execute.