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JC Penny in New Clothes is Still JC Penny

I guess I was the last to notice. Earlier this year, JC Penny revised its logo, collecting the jcp into a red square, while referring to itself as JCP, which is also the company’s NYSE trading symbol.

I’m all for logo updating (when needed). Is it a great logo?  I don’t think so, but it’s not bad. The point here is that a logo change, contrary to many beliefs, does not a brand change make.

The company states that the new logo is “…a move symbolizing JC Penney’s transformation to become America’s favorite shopping destination for discovering great styles at compelling prices…” and it represents “the most meaningful update to the company’s logo in 40 years.”

Here and there, between the lines, the implied corporate message is that the company is rebranding itself. More like “rearranging the chairs on the Titanic” as the retail icon, even with its Liz Claiborne acquisition, begins to list under the weight of online giants or dollar store competitors who offer nearly the same generic experience for a less hard-earned money.

A brand may be created by internal activities, but it’s defined by external perception. As Jobs said “The perception about a brand is reality.” And the reality here is that JC Penney is a weary concept in new clothes. For more on real branding, read Nichole Armstrong’s blog, More than A Logo.

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