A stalwart contributor to the British fashion scene since the 60s, Dr Martens is synonymous with the rebellious spirit, and one of my personal favourite brands.

But what characterises its success?

A transcendent style

Dr Martens has tapped into many different markets over the years, from rebellious teens to vegans to the police, and that’s part of what makes it so special. Docs are worn by every kind of individual. And they unite people from all sorts of backgrounds, no matter the fashion. In fact, this is the first line from the history page of their website:

“Dr. Martens’ appeal to people who have their own individual style but share a united spirit – authentic characters who stand for something. People who possess a proud sense of self- expression. People who are different.”

This sort of branding achieves something that many other companies can’t — catering to a wide audience whilst also appealing to a customer’s individuality. There’s no sense of following the crowd when it comes to Dr Martens. Even if you’re in a room full of people who are all wearing Docs, you’ll still feel like an individual, and so will everyone else.

Heritage 

Though it originated in Germany, Dr Martens is very much a British brand. With its boots encapsulating a quality of Britishness that’s hard to replicate. And its Made in England line allows people to buy into this heritage, which for some is a big thing. This helps to maintain the “grass roots” feel that allows it to operate as a big company whilst simultaneously maintaining its image as a small independent. In doing this Dr Martens is playing on one of its biggest strengths, namely that of being entrenched in British fashion/cultural history. This is a label that many modern day fashion companies can’t wear.

Stand out values

As stated in the above quote from their website, this is a company who embraces individualism and encourages its customers to think and dress for themselves. Their ethos becomes very clear when you enter one of their stores. Modern decor combined with heritage detail and a strong focus on music. It’s a universal aesthetic, clearly aimed at a wide-ranging age demographic. It’s also embodied in the staff, who all wear Docs but have no set uniform. You get to see the personal styles of the shop assistants. This all culminates in a brand that is highly focussed on attention to detail . Its themes and values are ever-present and all-encompassing. They are consistent, and with Dr Martens there is the distinct impression that the company has been built on values and subculture as opposed to profits and fad fashions.

Predictable but ever-changing

When you’re in the market for a Dr Martens shoe you will know beforehand, to a certain extent, what you’re going to get. Their style is very distinctive and permeates all their lines. Whether it’s the classic boots or sandals, you know a Doc when you see one. This is part of the reason why theirs is such a strong and solid brand. Yet despite this you won’t find them sitting on their laurels. There are always new designs, new innovations around the classic designs, and special editions. Though it could have happened, Dr Martens never allowed themselves to fall behind the competition by becoming a one-trick-pony. Instead they have continuously adapted their styles in the face of new trends, whilst keeping their core intact. They’re a great example of a company who perfectly understands their target market.

Dr Martens is a masterclass in branding. For any business that is looking not only to gain a loyal following, but create a legacy through their brand, this is the company to study! And whilst you’re here, why not take a look at some of the other branding posts on the blog? There’s Innocent Smoothies and George Best, take your pick!

(Please note, this blog post is in no way endorsed by or affiliated with the Dr Martens brand, it is purely an opinion piece).