Two Brand Lessons I Learned From Bergdorf’s

During the December holiday season I went to NYC to get some creative inspiration and check out the holiday window dressings of retailers. My all-time favorite are the windows at Bergdorf Goodmans on 57th & 5th. The level of imaginationcreativity and color was in a class unto itself. I am always amazed how they up their game each year and blow my mind with their creations. I ventured inside for a quick visit.

As I entered the first level and meandered through the designer bags to the escalators the experience felt otherworldly to me. I don’t know how else to describe it! I was taken aback for a few minutes to soak it all in. Something was special about the energy in this retailer beyond the normal holiday spirit and luxury surroundings.

Imagine - what if your brand evoked this type of experience? 

After my day in NYC, my curiosity grew and I needed to learn more about this luxury retailer and how they created the aura I experienced. I found a book written by (one of their) former President from 1975-1992, Ira Neimark - “The Rise of Fashion”. There were many golden nuggets of tried and true, business wisdom as I read through Neimark's account of his professional experience.

The two most salient philosophies that were thread through the Bergdorf organization were collaboration and customer service. These values ran deep throughout their history and continue today.

1.Collaboration - With designers of the time and artists that are relevant. The entire experience celebrates art in various forms. During my visit, I ventured down to the beauty level to peek at Pallette Cafe which is designed and decorated by pop artist Ashley Longshore. Smart to use a hot artist to make the cafe not only incredibly vibrant and relevant, but very Instagram worthy. Lesson - know where your customers are putting their attention while creating your relevant experience.

2.Customer Service - Obsessively focusing on the customer and what is important to them. All businesses deliver service in their respective style to varying degrees - getting a book from Amazon ASAP vs walking through an indy bookshop and chatting with other patrons and the staff. I made a purchase in the cosmetics department (green beauty of course!) and received a handwritten thank you note in the mail a week or so later! I’m not suggesting this tactic for every business, but this fits with their "customer is first" brandLesson - Express your appreciation, acknowledge your customer’s value to you - a simple note and/or deliver exceptional service.

I’m very focused on how brands put their customer first by listening to their audience and delivering on their brand value and promise and how businesses translate this to their overall customer experience. Do you have any examples of “otherworldly” experiences or businesses you’ve worked with? I'd love to hear your insights as I continue to share and explore this important pillar for brands.