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Your Brand Is Who You Are and Are Not. Just Ask Payless Shoes.

Posted on December 11, 2018 in Branding

I’m sure that most of the world has heard about the imitation footwear launch of “Palessi” in Santa Monica a couple of weeks ago. In case you haven’t, don’t feel bad. The Payless shoe brand had a single day event where they opened up a high-end retail store featuring all Payless shoe brands, rebranded under the Palessi name.

Payless promoted the single day launch and invited several social influencers to their store to feed the buzz of the new brand launch. These social influencers praised the experience. They were willing to share their positive experiences with their audiences and were willing to pay the hyperinflated price. Some influencers paid anywhere from $200 – $600+ for shoes that typically run $20 – $60 normally.

Here’s a quick recap of the event:


Overall, it was a pretty interesting experiment that proves the value that people place on brand perception.

Despite their recent struggles, it gained a ton of (mostly) positive PR for the Payless brand and brought some attention to their affordable, high-quality footwear.

It also focused on the effectiveness of influencer marketing. This could also be interpreted as deceiving social influencers toward a meaningful outcome. However you choose to look at it, it’s important to note that the influencers received a full refund and got to keep the shoes.

For me, the real takeaway here is about brand perception and the value that it provides. To everyday customers of this “perpetual consumerism” that we are all now a part of, the perception of brand value is everything. Is the true perception of a Lious Vuitton purse 10 times the value of a Coach purse? Is the value of that living room set from Ethan Allen truly 4 times what you might purchase from your local/regional furniture store?

The answer is a resounding yes! The perceived value that a consumer attaches to a brand and their product or service is what drives that pricing. A company that has built a strong brand and reputation tends to reinforce the buying behaviors of their audience. Brands that build the perception of value in the luxury marketplace have the unique opportunity to gain additional profit from the brand that they represent.

At the end of the day, many brands are designed to function this way, just like many brands are designed for the discount space (TJ Maxx, Reebok, and Hyundai). Most times it’s just marketing and economics, i.e., do you want to sell more widgets at a lower price or less widgets at a premium price? Though there are plenty of exceptions, most companies understand who they are and the market that they want to aggressively pursue.

Whether your Palessi or Payless, you have your pricing strategy and part of your brand is built around that strategy. The value perception of your brand is at the core of the belief system that you create in your audience.

Think about that the next time you pay $50 for a tee-shirt..

Have questions about brand strategy or brand positioning? Feel free to reach out, we love chatting about this stuff!

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