WOMEN TO WATCH: SCHOENING GUARDS BANANA'S BRAND EVOLUTION

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Amy schoening's title at The Gap's Banana Republic is VP-brand strategy. Unofficially, she's called "the brand police."

Ms. Schoening, formerly director of marketing, is charged with protecting the brand, not an easy task as Banana Republic takes the next step in a metamorphosis that started as a safari store and grew to an upscale lifestyle brand.

"Our brand has been through a major evolution, driven by product and shopping experience and limited investment in advertising," she says.

This year, that will change. Banana Republic is developing a new catalog and a direct marketing effort to go along with it. The chain also is considering the Gap Inc.'s first credit card, along with a frequency buying program.

BRAND WITH CHARISMA

"Banana Republic is a very charismatic brand, and only a handful of brands have charisma," she says. Her job is making sure that charisma is enhanced by every element in the store.

"Retail is detail," she adds.

Ms. Schoening began her career as a computer sales executive and then moved to a job at Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Boston. From 1984 to 1991, she worked at jobs ranging from director of new business to group account director.

In 1991, she relocated to Foote, Cone & Belding, San Francisco, becoming VP-managing supervisor on the Pillsbury and Levi Strauss & Co. accounts. A year later, Levi Strauss hired her to work on women's Dockers. Eventually, she became director of consumer marketing for the Levi's brand for men's, women's and kid's clothing. There, she learned the fundamentals of marketing.

When Ms. Schoening took guardianship of the Banana Republic brand, she says she wasn't sure what she was going to do at work every day. But that quickly became clear. "The skill required is bringing out the best in people," she says.

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