Building a fashionable brand image
A Dr Martens case study

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Page 1: Introduction

Dr Martens 4 Image 1Perceptions are the ways in which consumers see and interpret information about objects such as brands and companies. For example, everyone will have a perception of Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Marks & Spencer, Dr. Martens and other well known names.

Brands are products with a unique, consistent and well-recognised character. The uniqueness can come either from pure facts about the product or from its image - usually created by its manufacturer through advertising and packaging. For example, you will all be able to identify products which have an ‘old fashioned’ or a ‘modern’ image and ones which have a ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’ image. The consistency comes mainly from the consistency of its quality and performance, but it also reflects the consistency of the advertising and packaging.

Consumers form images of brands and companies based on the overall perception of the product, the marketing information surrounding the product and from past experiences of the product. Brand image is very important to companies. Today, people are more brand conscious than ever before and so it is very important for a company to build a brand image which reflects the best aspects of its products.

This case study focuses on a leading brand, Dr. Martens, and examines how it has continued to develop a brand image based on strong associations with youth. The study shows how Dr. Martens has built brand awareness through sponsorship links to music, fashion and theatre and outlines the promotional activities which support these areas.

The origin of Dr. Martens

The Dr. Martens Air Cushion sole was developed in post-war Munich for orthopaedic shoes by Dr Klaus Maertens. The soles were patented and quickly became the top sellers in the comfort shoe market in Germany. In 1959, Dr Maertens and his partner, Dr Herbert Funck, set out to find a company to produce their soles in order to export them throughout Europe.

R. Griggs & Company Limited, based in Northamptonshire, was already a manufacturer of army and work-wear boots with a comfort theme. It began to make footwear with the Dr. Martens sole, which it branded AirWair. The Group’s success in selling the shoes led the partners to licence R. Griggs to make the soles for the rest of the world.

In the late 1960s no teenager with attitude was properly dressed without a pair of eight eyelet ‘Doc Martens Cherry Reds’. The boots, however, were also being bought in their thousands by working people because of their sheer practicality. Today Dr. Martens has become a true icon of youth culture throughout the world.

Dr Martens | Building a fashionable brand image