Explore Business

Brand Identity:
Inside the Iconic Levi’s Brand

This mini-site for high school students provides Wharton School-powered videos, readings, and activities to inspire deep thought and discussion around global business issues.


he latest focus of our Explore Business learning materials for high school students is brand identity 

Wharton Global Youth’s latest Explore Business mini-site is a case study in turnaround leadership, marketing, brand management and retailing. Whether they are devout “denim heads” or have never worn Levi’s jeans, high school students will strengthen their business knowledge through the lens of this fascinating iconic brand. 

Wharton marketing professors Barbara E. Kahn and Americus Reed interview brand legend Charles “Chip” Bergh, former CEO of Levi Strauss & Co. When Bergh joined the iconic brand as CEO in 2011, the company was carrying $2 billion in debt while earning just $300 million a year in before-tax profits. Bergh went back to marketing basics, trying to figure out what worked before the brand faltered. This discussion delivers details on everything from brand management to the future of retail, while a master storyteller shares colorful experiences and insights from his years in brand leadership.  

The activities on this page connect to the Brand Identity: Inside the Iconic Levi’s Brand discussion and provide opportunities for high school students to Explore Business. The Getting Started lesson linked just below this intro will help educators to prepare students for the Levi’s brand conversation. 

The linked PDF worksheets will help direct students’ exploration of the shorter video segments, with guided questions and defined vocabulary. Be sure to also check out the Student Choice Board and Teachers’ Guide at the bottom of the page for activities and guidance. We encourage students to enjoy discovering new business insights – and contributing their own ideas to this important conversation.   

“My whole hypothesis was that if we could make the brand what it was when I was a kid, that would turn the brand around and that would turn the company around, because the brand is 85% of the company’s revenues.”

— Charles Bergh, former CEO, Levi Strauss & Co.

For Teachers: Getting Started with this Explore Business Mini-site

Help bridge the gap between higher ed and high school with our introductory lesson designed to provide context before digging into all the learning on this Wharton Global Youth Explore Business Mini-site.

The Full Discussion:
Inside the Iconic Levi’s Brand

Explore the Main Video Themes with These Shorter Segments

1. Meet Chip Bergh, Brand Legend

Wharton marketing professors Barbara Kahn and Americus Reed, hosts of the podcast Marketing Matters, welcome guest Chip Bergh, former CEO of Levi Strauss & Co., and discover how he embraced an iconic brand and an epic turnaround opportunity. 

~ 7 minutes 

2. Getting the Levi’s House in Order and Finding 501 Blues Magic

As Chip Bergh took on the job as CEO of Levi’s, he realized that crazy things happen to companies that don’t grow for 15 years. Before he could even think about rebuilding the Levi’s brand, he had some serious work to do. He also revisits the rich legacy of the Levi’s Brand. 

~ 8 minutes 

3. Meeting a Denim Head in Bangalore, India 

Chip Bergh, a master storyteller, shares his experience interviewing a long-time Levi’s customer and how it led to some valuable brand awareness.  

~5.25 minutes 

4. Levi’s Embraces Social Issues

While the Levi’s brand has long been aligned with LGBTQ+ issues, more recently it has taken a stand on ending gun violence in the U.S. Chip Bergh recalls the moment this became a priority issue: gunfire in a company retail store.   

~9 minutes 

5. Leading a Brand During Uncertainty

How the pandemic changed Chip Bergh as a leader and inspired marketing innovation at Levi Strauss & Co.  

~6 minutes 

6. Leadership Reflections and Looking Ahead to the Future of Retail

The “brand guy” talks about his proudest business decisions as CEO of Levi Strauss & Co., and also identifies Levi’s evolution as a direct-to-consumer retailer with a focus on in-store experiences.  

~9 minutes 

7. The Best Way to Wash Jeans…and Other Lifestyle Brand Strategies

Chip Bergh fully clothed in the shower – in his Levi’s. Plus, strategies for addressing overconsumption of goods and Levi Strauss & Co. embracing the movement toward circular fashion and thrifting. 

~5 minutes 

For Teachers and Students

The Teacher Guide is a resource to help educators understand the purpose of the Brand Identity: Inside the Iconic Levi’s Brand mini-site and to provide guidance for using the videos and worksheets on this page with your students. Learning objectives included.

The Choice Board allows students to select individual projects and activities that help them reflect on Explore Business themes and apply them to their own experiences. The student activity choices are meant to support in-person and remote classroom learning.

Explore Business with Wharton Global Youth

Our Explore Business mini-sites are gateways to conversations, readings and activities that inspire high school students to think more deeply about issues affecting business and society. Dig into these Wharton-powered learning opportunities wherever and whenever you want to explore timely and compelling topics.