Bean Pole Retail Brand Strategy for Samsung Cheil Industries

A top Korean fashion brand’s growth and innovation strategy

Samsung Cheil’s largest clothing retailer, Bean Pole, has grown into the #1 Korean fashion brand over the past 20 years. To expand the company’s growth trajectory into foreign markets, Bean Pole partnered with IDEO to develop a clear, relevant brand essence that could create stronger connections between the brand and consumers and guide future design and development decisions. The design team also took a fresh look at Bean Pole’s existing launch strategy and created practical tools to support a new approach. By January 2011, Samsung Cheil had accomplished its goal of growing Bean Pole into foreign markets. A corporate culture of innovation has blossomed as well: today Bean Pole employees rapidly prototype and iterate concepts, talk to customers in stores to guide their decisions, and use human-centered design methods to group ideas and solutions during strategy meetings. As of 2012, Bean Pole has launched more than 100 new stores in Asia and piloted several sub-brands, leading to significant market impact for the company.

IDEO began the project with an update of Bean Pole’s brand and design principles. After extensive research, the brand’s essence emerged as “contemporary, inspired by British heritage.” Five key principles were created to guide future strategy:

• Remix culture: Interpret British heritage to create an offering that’s clever and contemporary.
• Forefront inspiration: Share the story and creative spark behind the design.
• Promote discovery: Allow people to engage and interpret the brand to make it their own.
• Celebrate individuality: Enable individuals to express their uniqueness.
• Create dynamism: Design for contrast, pacing, twists and surprises.

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Project date: 2010