ORLANDO: Target, the retailer, has seen its core brand metrics return to the same levels as before a major data breach last year – a process aided by its decision to refocus on the customer.

Jeffrey J. Jones II, the company's evp/cmo, discussed this theme while speaking at the Association of National Advertisers' (ANA) 2014 Masters of Marketing conference.

"The metrics that we look at every single day – including things like 'favorite retailer' – are back to pre-breach levels," he said. (For more, including a detailed account of the company's response, read Warc's exclusive report: How Target rebounded from data breach and image immolation.)

Jones revealed that thinking about the breach – details of which emerged in December 2013 – left him feeling something "between a cold sweat and sick to my stomach."

Credit card or personal data for more than 100m people was affected, and Jones reported that the fallout had resulted in 150bn media impressions across the globe.

Alongside the damage to Target's brand, the firm has faced a financial burden – as shown by the fact the costs associated with the incident hit $148m in the second quarter.

"But I can tell you that it gave Target two choices: surrender or fight. And we decided to fight," said Jones.

"This challenged Target in many deep and important ways, including the relationship we have with our guests."

Indeed, the impact of this realization took the company all the way back to basics, and made it reconsider what its tagline – "Expect more. Pay less" – really meant.

"We'd been spending way too much time on the 'pay less' side of the equation," said Jones.

"The power of this brand – the power of this idea – is when those two thoughts are connected."

One example of that process in action has involved rolling out products which are made available exclusively to Target by manufacturers.

Introducing a range of successful digital initiatives, from rejuvenating its web and mobile presence to launching apps, has also formed a core part of Target's strategy.

Data sourced from Warc