Diane Sullivan has spent the past four years dramatically evolving Brown Shoe Co. On Thursday, she announced another huge move.
In a company-wide meeting at the firm’s St. Louis headquarters, the chairman, CEO and president outlined an ambitious rebranding initiative. About 900 employees were on hand for the event, which ended with a champagne toast to celebrate the firm’s future.
Among the highlights from the gathering: Brown Shoe will now be known as Caleres. The new name is derived from the Latin word “calere,” which means passionate and “to glow.” “We wanted something timeless and enduring,” Sullivan said.
A new logo will combine the Caleres moniker with the “Star-Five-Star” mark, which Brown has been using since 1885. Created by the company’s founder, George Warren Brown, the symbol promised “a fit so ideal that you’d wear the mark off your sole.” If not, Brown Shoe would repay you $5.
“We want a name that reflects our ambitions. Brown Shoe does not reflect who we are today. To be global brand, our name must be suggestive,” Sullivan told employees. “Our name must be more than a name. It must be managed as a brand with which people emotionally connect.”
Sullivan outlined five ambitions that will drive the company forward. In addition to focusing on organic growth, Caleres will look to acquire and incubate new brands. Sullivan told her employees that Stuart Weitzman and Cole Haan were two labels the company had been pursuing, and though the deals never came to fruition, Caleres is always on the hunt for potential acquisitions.
The CEO also wants Caleres to be a “magnet for talent,” to “build global relevance” and be known as “staying for consumers.”
“The opportunity ahead of us is bigger than it has ever been,” Sullivan said.
In a unique step, the company will also launch a men’s footwear business called Brown Shoe Bootmakers, which preserves the company’s former name. The collection, which will debut in 2016, is heading to market at a time when men’s footwear is enjoying major momentum.
Sullivan has tapped Gordon Thompson, a former Nike and Cole Haan executive, to help spearhead the men’s debut.