Dr. Martens

Throughout the 20th century, iconic footwear brand Dr. Martens was a family-run business with a loyal following and no need to look to the wider market to inform strategy. However, following threats of bankruptcy in 2013, the brand was acquired by a retail turnaround specialist.

The private equity company set ambitious targets of doubling staff headcount and increasing the number of Dr. Martens stores from 15 to over 100. As the business grew, the brand’s identity and culture were at risk, so the leadership team decided to identify and communicate a global strategy for Dr. Martens.

Using insights from focus groups, the brand’s essence was distilled into a simple, powerful phrase: ‘Rebellious Self-Expression’, and brought to life with five new core values which were imprinted on vinyl records – fitting, as music is the heartbeat of the brand.

The Dr. Martens leadership team then spent many hours discussing the business priorities and whittling them down to four (branded ‘The DM4’). For the first time in DMs’ history, 70 global managers gathered at an event where the leadership team communicated exactly what was needed to achieve their company ambition.

"The brand's essence was distilled into a simple, powerful phrase: 'Rebellious Self-Expression'"

The changes proved popular with staff as much as customers. A recent company-wide survey had a 68% colleague engagement score, an impressive achievement in such a large, fast-growing organisation. 86% of employees understand how their work contributes to the goals of Dr. Martens, and 64% believe there is open, honest two way communication. Additionally, the business’ 25% revenue growth has led to a profit increase of 27% (£37.5mil). 21 Dr. Martens stores were opened this year, bringing the total to 94.

By ensuring they have the right people doing the right things in the right way, Dr. Martens are on an extremely exciting journey.