By Allegra Colletti
Brand strategy…brand management…
This is a relatively new concept that many companies outside the fashion industry are starting to look at more closely. In this overcrowded, oversaturated marketplace, every brand is looking for an edge, either to reposition themselves or to establish their identity. Companies currently exploring this notion range widely, from Johnson and Johnson to major hotel chains and a great many fledgling Internet companies.
Fashion companies have long employed stylists in this role, because, obviously, in fashion, image is everything. The best stylists are highly regarded for their vision, razor sharp instincts and their ability to filter information, zeroing in on the best of the best. In a sense, they are styling the brand; carefully putting together all the pieces of the puzzle into one strong, cohesive statement in order to set the brand apart from everything else on the market.
Ironically, at a time when many companies outside the fashion industry are finally beginning to realize the value of this creative role, so many fashion companies appear to have lost sight of it. With a great many brands having been purchased in recent years by business-minded people (often with no fashion-related experience), many of them now seem focused only on the bottom line. It’s almost as if they cannot comprehend the value of a stylist’s work, because it’s not something which can easily be measured and plugged into a calculator.
But the nature of a creative, design driven business is something fluid. It must keep changing and evolving in order to keep pace with the market. As a result, there must always be someone with keen insights and sharp instincts sitting out in front, steering the company in the right direction.
Here is where the stylist comes in, because what stylists always have are great instincts, a strong vision and creative new ideas.
One very famous example of this is Carine Roitfeld, current editor-in-chief of French Vogue. Ms. Roitfeld is largely credited by fashion insiders with the enormous success of the Gucci brand under Tom Ford. As the stylist for all the runway shows and provocative ad campaigns and as the ‘muse’ for the collections, there is no question that she had a major impact on the image of that brand. But it wasn’t until she left Gucci that her contributions there were widely recognized. Some say the brand has never been the same without her.
Which leads to the questions:
What’s an idea worth? Whatever it is, it’s just part of the price of success.