Social Retail – Boden’s face(book!) is the company. A personal story.

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Boden is Johnnie Boden

Have you not heard of Johnnie Boden?  Talk about turning your life into a brand!

I am impressed with the UK clothing retailer Boden (not to be mixed up with Boden, the store fixtures retailer).   Johnnie Boden, a failed banker-turned-teacher, launched a men’s clothing business in 1991 and created a company, based entirely on his persona and personality, into a thriving business, with some 40% of sales coming online (per an 2008 article, so that may have increased quite a lot in between).  Boden is, for me, a fine example of what I call, a brand getting personal.  And they have a strong off- and online mix.

Boden have a Facebook fan page (with nearly 19k fans) and have attached a link to each piece of clothing so we can see what other people have written about a shirt or other item of interest (aided by Tagman to track the rich media presence).  This is so powerful as a marketing tool and web-based strategy.  The owner, Johnnie Boden is totally open and transparent about his personal life.  Here is the opening to the site’s about us; it makes for quite an engaging read:

“After five burglaries, one office dog, nine Christmas quizzes, twelve nights spent in the warehouse, one consignment of refugees arriving with a clothes delivery, four office moves, quite a few sense of humour failures, a few sackings (but thankfully not many), 2 venture capitalists, 6 awards, about twenty fantastically annoying customers (mostly related to me), a couple of crooks, 520 King Pizzas (“Continental” medium thin crust with extra anchovies for me), a great team spirit, one incredibly tolerant wife, bucket loads of sweat and even more laughs, we’re still here!”

The tagline for Boden is rather fun, if broad:

A quality British clothing company, which makes clothes for colour-loving men, women and children aged 0-100

When I took a whirl on their US site (bodenusa), I found that they had put “fun stuff” [UPDATED: this tab no longer exists] into the bottom navigation bar, whereas the UK site embeds that in the “about us” section… I think the fun page is worth putting front and centre.  The fun stuff is all about the personal elements, replete with fun interviews (“interrogations”) of Johnnie himself by his daughters.

Per this 2010 article in The Sunday Times, Boden has “1 m[illion] customers, a thriving business in Germany and an American market [launched in 2002] that accounts for 30% of his sales.”  I found a site saying that in 2008, Boden was doing GBP168 million in revenues.

Overall, I would say, that Boden is quite a handy success and a great example a brand that gets very personal.  Do you agree? Anyone have any Boden experiences they would like to share?

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