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Crocs- fast branding

July 11, 2007

The ugly footwear brand Crocs has in a couple of years come from knowhere to cultural phenom. I don’t recall ever having seen any form of traditional communication for the brand- no ads of any type, but a ton of people talk about them and you sure remember them when you see them around.

Clearly Crocs is trying to battle the “fad cycle” that often destroys fashion companies; they are expanding globally and diversifying the brand beyond footwear.

Anyone remember Von Dutch?

“The future for Von Dutch seems to be limitless. The unofficial princess
of white-trash glam, Anna Nicole Smith, has signed a development deal
with the company–just one of the many promotional plans that they’ve
set their sights set on. Fashion fanatics can also expect to see
cosmetics and haute couture lines in the upcoming months, as well as an
onslaught of celebrity involvement

From a 2003- web news story

How Crocs engineered it’s rapid expansion is fascinating; it brought in an expert from outside the category, Ron Snyder from Flextronics, an electronics manaufacturer that makes X-Boxes for Microsoft among other things.

According to Fast Company, Snyder’s contribution is all about making Crocs more responsive to the changing color tastes of consumer.

“And he brought on some of his pals from Flextronics to
set up more-sophisticated operations that would bring to footwear the
speed and flexibility of electronics manufacturing.

For one, they set up systems allowing Crocs to respond quickly to
demand: If the lime-green Athens shoe is hot in mid-June, the company
can make more in two to four weeks.”

They might be getting this right for their core business, but their diversification strategies have met with criticism.

“But now my ardor of last year has cooled. I am underwhelmed by the
company’s choices so far. It seems like Crox moved in this direction
before thinking it through. Sure, ball caps are a must, but the
backpacks are just backpacks. White socks with prints on them? Who
cares? The spin-off products so far sadly lack the funky style that
made Crox shoes so in your face and I dare you to make fun of me. Why
isn’t Crox teaming with Swatch to make big, bold watches a comeback?
Why don’t the arm and wristbands do something teens and fashion-firsts
would value, like hold an iPod? In fact, why aren’t they anklebands
just to be different? Why aren’t there Crox gummy bears or
funny-colored sunscreen that blends into the skin? Crox needs a product
designer with a funkier vision and a tighter grip on what it is about
Crox that got it to this level. The new products on offer now look like
the company borrowed an aging product manager from the Mattel’s Barbie
doll division.”

Seeking Alpha

Crocs have defied convention, built a powerful brand that people have strong emotions towards, survived the intiital fad phase and have taken on the mutitude of copy-cats. Bringing outside expertese from the fast-paced world of electronics has clearly helped, but it now appears they also need to bring in critical design skills if they want to innovate behind their core product and survive.

Posted by Ed Cotton

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