Vera Bradley: No Longer Your High School Sweetheart

We know Vera Bradley as those printed cotton lunch bags that the popular girls brought to school or the lanyards you stuck your college ID in, but Vera Bradley doesn’t want you to remember her that way.

Vera Bradley CEO Rob Wallstrom has a five-year plan that will completely makeover the brand as you know it, and he wants you to do a double take when you see it at the five-year high school reunion. With their segmentation analysis crowning the “daymaker” as their muse, Wallstrom is making headway into what is one of the biggest rebrandings in the fashion industry that I’ve seen in a while. Who is the “daymaker” you ask?

Daymakers are idealists, go-getters, and “choreographers” who are able to “balance 1,000 things” well for family, friends and themselves, he said. They also love to host others and are “joiners,” not loners… She appreciates femininity and beauty in color and prints and thoughtful details and in her relationships. And that’s what’s important. It’s not just beauty as something you acquire, it’s also beauty as in something you are and something that you do. – CEO Wallstrom, March 2016

Vera Bradley’s fresh marketing campaign launched this past week, with the brand tagline “It’s good to be a girl.” The marketing campaign includes influencer posts, social media, print ads, as well as digital audio on Spotify and Pandora. The move is intended to follow the primary audience as they age from high school and college into the working world, where printed cotton bags aren’t chic, and young professional women yearn for something more grown up.


The new logo

The changes are gradual but seem sudden – cotton bags used to make 90% of the brand’s collection but the refresh has pushed that number down to 50%, replacing the jaded prints with leather and similar materials. In an effort to compete with other premium brands, Vera Bradley has increased its assortment available in department stores, where being merchandised next to its peers should highlight the value-boasting prices of Vera Bradley (about $200). In addition to upping the handbag materials and styles to keep up with its graduated audience, Vera Bradley added more jewelry in July and increased its collection of scarves in addition to home products and perfume.


The new Vera Bradley

What do you think of the rebrand? Do you think that it will make the brand relevant again?

Celebrity Collabs

Lately, we’ve been seeing a ton of mashups among brands and celebrities or other designers:

The list goes on..

It seems like big brands that have been around for a while are venturing to find someone “current” that can help rejuvenate their brand for them and make the brand relevant to what is hopefully a strategic target audience. Often, these collabs get a good amount of media attention for a short bit, but then get forgotten. Before I go on further, I want to emphasize that I’m talking about celebrity collaborations, which result in a unique product, not celebrity endorsements which serve as promotion for an existing product. There are so many questions that many in the industry are still figuring out:

What makes a celebrity collaboration successful? How similar does the celeb’s brand and following have to be to the retailer brand? Is it better to have a one-off collaboration or an ongoing line? What’s the spectrum of the celebrity’s involvement in the creation of the collaborated product: full-on sketching the designs or is their name just slapped on? Is there a threat that the celebrity’s name on your product will cause an increase in sales and buzz that will then die down once the collab is over?

What’s a celeb collaboration that, in your opinion, failed? What’s one that’s just pure genius?


Essie: not the same everywhere

I love Essie nail polish. I jumped on the Essie bandwagon a bit late – I got my first Essie polish this past November, but their colors and the longevity of the color instantly made me a fan. Today, in my Marketing capstone class, we were discussing distribution strategies and someone mentioned Essie’s strategy:

Essie distributes different polishes to its different categories of retailers. Get this- salons and beauty supply stores like ULTA and Sally Beauty Supply get the “real” salon-quality Essie, while the likes of CVS and Walmart get “inferior” Essie products. Both products are sold as the same line with the same color names, but the quality (and price points) are different. The story goes as so: Target asked to sell Essie nail polish but they wanted to be able to sell it at a lower price point. Essie had been acquired by L’Oreal then, and L’Oreal saw a huge potential market share gain for its new nail polish brand if it sold at mass retailers. To acquiesce with Target’s choice, Essie updated its formula so that it would cost less. In addition, Essie updated the packaging to a more economical one.

What’s the difference between the two, and how can you tell them apart?

The salon-quality Essie is the one that salons use, and it boasts a longer-lasting formula and better quality product. Both categories of Essie are still, of course, “Essie.” The “lesser” Essie comes in a cheaper glass bottle with a clear sticker which spells “Essie” on it in white. The more “expensive” Essie comes in a higher-quality glass bottle and the brand’s name is embossed into the thicker glass bottle.


How to Dress Like an Italian Girl

  • Italian women are envied worldwide for their style and iconic fashion. There’s just something sexy about Italian girls and their classy way of dressing.  What can the non-Italian learn about what Italian women look for when arranging outfits and about their style?

    Italian girls value clean lines, solid colors, and simple patterns. Edgy is cool, but worn naturally.


    Generally, an edgy outfit is paired with simple makeup and simple boots and red lipstick. Clothes are generally more refined and sophisticated than the average American girl’s style. Even ripped jeans are worn with kitten heels and a sleek hair, never a baggy t-shirt.


    An Italian girl is always mindful of her accessories as well, so a purse or sunglasses are never an afterthought but rather a deliberate decision.


    Leather? Classy, not gothic.


    These pictures from Milan Fashion Week illustrate the Italian ladies’ heavy emphasis on looking good and dressing well.

    This post was originally published on as part of Aditi’s Italian Culture blog.