Steve Lesnard, the Chief Marketing Officer of The North Face, recently spoke with Joe Carter about his work and insights into the industry. Steve Lesnard is not only CMO of The North Face, he’s also the head of product creation engines across equipment, apparel, merchandising, and footwear. He’s at the helm of so many decisions, and he’s learned a lot from his time on the job.
On the Love This podcast, Steve Lesnard talks about everything from his relationships to external limitations when designing campaigns. This brand marketing guru has a lot to say, and his personal insights will be of value to anyone who cares about how to reach the right customers.
Digging Into Details
The North Face has long been associated with people who don’t just love the outdoors — they want to conquer it. When it comes to designing equipment for them, there is really no room for error. Customers count on North Face to protect them from the harsh realities of overexposure.
To succeed at his job, Steve Lesnard has to understand how an outdoorsman (or woman) thinks and what they’re really looking for from each item they buy. To do that, he has to take into account everything from the technical details of the products to the innate joys of pushing yourself to the edge of your physical capabilities.
The Big Picture
Steve Lesnard was also candid when it came to discussing the limitations of marketing. The best marketing campaigns in the world can’t always overcome a profit margin discrepancy or a supply-chain issue, so it’s equally important for Lesnard not to overpromise when it comes The North Face brand.
Pretending that his products can solve every problem in the world isn’t in the customer’s or the company’s best interest. Instead, he pushes the innovation of the products and how new developments can support his customers.
For example, FUTURELIGHT is a nanospinning technology that solves a serious problem for climbers. This product is not only waterproof but also breathable, a huge accomplishment in the outdoor recreation industry. When a climber heads up a mountain, they often have to take off the shell of their outfit when it gets too hot. This is because true waterproof shells have to be rigid to work. With new nanospinning tech, climbers can keep the shell on even as they build up a sweat from the exertion.
Striking a Balance
When The North Face faced the waterproof dilemma, they had to find the right balance to give their customers what they were looking for. This is the kind of win-win situation that Lesnard has to strive for every single day. Whether balancing environmental concerns against R&D processes or affordability against the price point of the products, the goal is to find a solution that everyone can live with.
This ties into a long-term strategy for The North Face, a brand that wants to be viewed as on the edge of the next big breakthrough. For years, the company has made products that give their customers the chance to flex their skills and improve their agility and speed. Their apparel is not just made to hold them back, but actively help them propel forward.