Geox and the Seven Year Itch

August 22, 2006

Some days it seems I could spend every day and every post writing about silly, stupid and strange line extensions. Some days as soon as I say something positive about a brand they go out and do the opposite.

But this foolishness is understandable because getting focused and staying focused isn’t easy. Getting focused takes passion and dedication. Staying focused takes commitment and stamina because it is boring work. Many fast paced entrepreneurs can’t bear it and many big company executives wouldn’t dream of it. But the few that stay focused for the long haul and over the rough patches are rewarded greatly.

Geoxair My last post praised Geox, the first breathable shoe. Mario Moretti Polegato, CEO and founder of Geox, has built a powerful global shoe brand by focusing on one word “breathable.” It was an idea that was first looked upon as insane. When he took the idea to traditional shoe companies they laughed him off. Of course, look who is laughing today.

But that is not the end of the story, as my friend Michael Brandtner pointed out to me.

So what did Mario do next?

Well you know what he did next. He has expanded the brand. Just blame it on the Seven Year Itch. 

The same itch happens in many marriages. After a wonderful honeymoon and six or so years of bliss the itch starts in. Partners start to get bored, start to get tired of doing the same old thing and start looking around and wondering what it would be like to broaden their horizons.

This so-called Seven Year Itch that dooms many marriages, also dooms many brands. Brand leaders derive great joy and excitement from building a brand. But maintaining a brand is different work. It is not exciting. To maintain a brand you have to keep focused and pass up what might seem like sexy opportunities today for the greater good of your brand in the future.

Mario just did what so many other brand leaders have done. He fell victim to the Seven Year Itch. Mario’s itch has led him to start a Geox fashion line featuring clothes that breathe.

But he is staying focused you might be thinking. The product is still breathable. Yes, but there is a great difference between shoes and clothes. It is a great divide that Geox will have great difficulty crossing.

Why expand into clothes now anyway? Why not be satisfied with a global shoe brand? Why not try to dominate the global shoe market? Why not expand more in shoes before leaping to clothes?

It can all be explained by the Seven Year Itch. That crazy, irrational feeling that drives people to do things they shouldn’t.

The Seven Year Itch has gotten many brands and many mans in trouble. Very few brands or marriages can survive.

So just remember this: Stay focused because the Seven Year Itch eventually ends up ruining your marriage, making you miserable and costing you dearly in alimony.