Abercrombie stopped offending its most important customers -- and that could spell trouble for the brand

AbercrombieGettyAn Abercrombie & Fitch store display in 2003

Being nice isn’t always a good thing.

As teen customers continue to flee the brand, Abercrombie has taken several steps to change its image and tone down its sexy advertisements.

The company has been criticised in the past for its promiscuous ads and excluding customers who weren’t toned and preppy.

Former CEO Mike Jeffries famously said he only wanted the “cool kids” to shop at Abercrombie. Since then, the company has made strides by advocating anti-bullying campaigns and offering larger sizes.

But as a result, Abercrombie’s all-important teen customers might be bored by the brand.

But the company’s attempts to become nicer may be more detrimental than beneficial, according to one brand expert.

“Abercrombie has removed their brand differentiation from what it used to be, and by trying to be nice — or maybe, more kosher — [concerned with the] sensitivity of the Americans,” Erich Joachimsthaler, CEO and founder of Vivaldi Partners, said to Business Insider. “I think that has made Abercrombie bland.”

Not everyone liked Abercrombie, but one thing was certain about the brand: it had a target customer.

“Abercrombie & Fitch had built on [a] particular customer, a particular consumer…they didn’t like anybody…[former CEO Mike Jeffries] said he [didn’t] want to market to everyone. So I think that’s very important — if you don’t stand for something, you fall for anything,” he explained. “And what you see right now…Abercrombie, what they have done, is they’re in eternal drift mode.”

Abercrombie’s lack of a brand identity is evident on its website, too — with dresses that resemble those from fast fashion beacon, components of athleisure, and its namesake shirts with the company name emblazoned across the chest.

This could alleged lack of brand identity could confuse customers, according to Joachimsthaler.

Abercrombie’s notorious “look” policy forced upon employees has landed them a class-action law suit and a lost Supreme Court case.

Earlier this year, Abercrombie softened its “look” policy.

So while the brand may no longer be offending people as frequently as it used to, it’s not doing anything at all — which might be worse, as Joachimsthaler hugely advocates brand differentiation.

“If you think about it, everything that made them different, they have removed,” he said. “But they haven’t replaced it with anything.”

NOW WATCH: Turns out the McDonald’s secret menu is real — here’s what happens when you try to order off of it

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.