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This Battle in Versailles Was All About Fashion

On November 28, 1973, American designers Halston, Bill Blass, Stephen Burrows, Oscar de la Renta and Anne Klein won over the French fashion world with a show in France that made history.

The occasion was a joint French and American fashion show at the Queen's Theater in Versailles to raise funds for the Versailles Restoration Fund.


Halston was one of five designers chosen to represent America. The other four were Stephen Burrows, Anne Klein, Bill Blass and Oscar de la Renta.

The French contingent comprised Hubert de Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Cardin, Emmanuel Ungaro and Marc Bohan for Christian Dior.

As to be expected with all this talent in one room, there was major drama. According to 'Halston, An American Original', from which this account was sourced, the French rehearsed until 10 p.m. without providing the Americans food, water, ashtrays, even toilet paper in the dressing rooms.

When the Americans finally had the stage to themselves, the French electricians left (union hours, naturellement) and the heat was turned off. Any camaraderie the group had at the beginning dissolved into bickering. Fortunately they found the sense to stop arguing and start plotting their revenge. And the best way to do that was to have the better show.

It was decided that the American segment, which had a Halston-clad Liza Minnelli for its opening and closing acts, would feature clothes from all the designers at the beginning, followed by the individual collections. Minnelli would then close the segment.

The night of the show, every seat had been sold out at the theatre. The French designers went first with an elaborate 20th century version of what would have been a show at the court of Louis XVI.

It had a live orchestra, floats, French actress Capucine, dancer Rudolf Nureyev and a finale featuring 67-year-old Josephine Baker accompanied by strippers from the famous Crazy Horse Saloon. It was an hour and a half long lavish production that spared no detail.

In contrast, the American designers presented a zippy 35-minute segment. It opened with Minnelli singing Bonjour Paris, the models dancing down the runway in beige and off-white raincoats and umbrellas. There were no sets; just lighting, simple scenery, and the hot music of the day.

The individual collections were three minutes long. Minnelli closed the show singing Cabaret and Au Revoir Paris, clad in a black and silver Halston gown while the entire cast was seated at white tables onstage, all dressed in various shades of black. It was Broadway slick, better than any concert, and completely brought the house down.

Even before the Americans made their last bow, the usually sedate French audience was shouting and throwing their programs in the air. St. Laurent and his partner Pierre Berge were screaming their heads off in joy. Ungaro was unhappy. "We should have realized that the Americans would know how to put on a show," he groused later to Time magazine.

Perhaps the best compliment was paid by an anonymous French socialite in Newsweek, who said of the American designers: "They are like someone who gets invited into your home for dinner and then runs off with your wife and the silverware as well."

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Going For Woke: How Brand Activism is the New Path to Profit

‘These creatives are trying to make their toilet paper save the world.’
 
So opined fellow creative Rob Baiocco of BAM Connection, who was wryly commenting in a Guardian article about marketers’ new pursuit of social justice cred.
 
Is endowing the most banal of products with meaning as ludicrous as one would think? In October 2017, because the subject intrigued me as a marketer, I conducted my own research using SurveyMonkey.
 
The findings showed that, increasingly, consumers choose brands that are aligned with their values and shed those they perceive as a mismatch.

Use This Handy Asset Checklist For Branding or Rebranding

The exciting thing about branding is starting a new identity from scratch. In the case of rebranding, it’s giving something old and tired a new lease on life.

What’s not quite as fun are the million-and-one fiddly details that go into the exercise.

Stuff like:

  • Are the design team and me talking about the same thing? Like, is a stacked logo a square logo?
  • Are we covering all the items we truly need? Are we forgetting some that are actually important or, conversely, overdoing it and thereby incurring more expense?
  • Are we all on the same page about approval circuits and building in approval time before launch?

There are many excellent and free branding brief templates to furnish your agency or designer, such as this one from FreshSparks. What’s not so common is a laundry list of all the assets that should be covered by the process. A list sets the foundation for budgeting, timing and organizing. A list grounds you.

So here’s my version that I’ve used several times, from rebranding a 44-country international firm to creating a brand new identity for a digital agency. You can download it as a Word doc as well.

It’s a rare case where all items on this list will be checked off. B2B companies would require more of the digital templates while an e-commerce outfit would need a fuller range of ad formats. Feel free to adjust as necessary.

Logo/brand mark

Tesla logo guidelines

Tesla’s brand guidelines specify the amount of clear space required around the brand mark, as well as where it should appear. For example, the logo should never be placed on a highly patterned background or photograph is

  • Landscape
  • Portrait
  • Square/stacked
  • Black and white
  • Reverse
  • Favicon

Files should be in as many formats as possible: JPG, PNG, EPS, AI. Include sizes that can be used for larger formats such as outdoor signage and as small as a favicon. The wide range of measurements will test the skill of your designer, as the brand mark has to look good at 16px (a favicon’s size) as it would wrapped around the side of a building.

Fonts

Beats By Dre typography example

Beats By Dre’s typography embodies its brand: Solid and contemporary, almost masculine.

  • Serif
  • Sans serif

A normal number of fonts to start with would be two, a serif and a sans serif that complement each other. Depending on the brand’s needs, you may also want to commission a script or another distinct font for headlines.

Exercise good sense in choosing fonts. The more fanciful or rare ones require a license which can be cost-prohibitive when purchasing it for multiple users.

In addition, clients who do not have these fonts in their systems will find that any documents you sent them have defaulted to Times New Roman or Arial, not to mention the formatting has all gone off. Remember that Google Fonts are good looking and free!

Color palette

AirBnb color palette

AirBnB’s color palette has 9 shades but 6 shades is a good number to start with.

  • Dominant color 1
  • Dominant color 2
  • Accent color 1
  • Accent color 2
  • Accent color 3
  • Accent color 4

Picking brand colors must be one of the most enjoyable parts of a brand exercise. If you want to play around with colors yourself, have a go using these tools.

Digital templates

Future Prospect Powerpoint template

From cover slide to bullet styles, your PowerPoint presentation should be consistent with your brand. Future Prospect PowerPoint template by Jumsoft.

  • Letterhead
  • PowerPoint or Keynote presentation
  • PowerPoint or Keynote charts – Pie, bar, stacked bar, line, etc.
  • Infographic
  • Icons
  • One-page brochure
  • White paper
  • Invoice
  • Receipt
  • Email signature
  • House ads – Leaderboard, mobile leaderboard, wide skyscraper, large rectangle, medium rectangle, billboard

Digital templates are the workhorses of your brand asset library. In the absence of guidelines, users tend to put their own creative stamp on common documents. Nip these in the bud by providing a full spectrum of branded applications.

Social media assets

Aman Instagram account

Aman’s Instagram account is serene and luxurious, just like the resort company itself.

  • Headers – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn
  • Profile photos
  • Social ads

Normally social media assets are cobbled together internally by the marketing or social media team. If so, it never hurts to run mockups by the brand steward or designer to gauge brand cohesiveness. Future iterations can then be created with pointers in mind.

Stationery

Jukebox Print cards

Print can be a surprisingly strong way to anchor your brand. Cards by Jukebox Print.

  • Business card
  • Letterhead
  • Letter envelopes
  • Window envelopes
  • Catalog or document envelopes
  • Invoice
  • Receipt
  • Note card or compliments slip
  • Presentation folder
  • Mailing label
  • Brochure

We like to think that print has gone the way of the mastodons, but marketers are discovering that in the mad rush to go digital, emptier mailboxes mean better opportunities to showcase your brand. Did you know that direct mail as a percentage of all mail went up in 2016? And never underestimate the power of the humble receipt to carry brand messaging.

Corporate signage

Slack offices Toronto

Lobby signage doesn’t have to be boring. Slack offices in Toronto, courtesy of Office Snapshots.

  • Lobby signage
  • Directional signage
  • Glass vinyl graphics
  • Exterior signage
  • Event signage

Think of signage as another canvas for your brand. How can you use that space to communicate your brand’s key attributes?

Trade show assets

Ray Ban tradeshow booth

This Ray-Ban tradeshow booth certainly turned heads at an ophthalmology conference in Milan. Photo courtesy of Trive Digest.

  • Retractable banners
  • Trade show booth
  • Table drapery

Apart from their networking benefits, conferences and trade shows are prime opportunities to build brand awareness. You may not have the budget of Ray-Ban in creating a stunning booth, but never underestimate how a well designed retractable banner can stop traffic.

Other applications

New York Post gummy bears giveaway

People are still talking about this bucket of gummy bears that the New York Post gave away during Advertising Week 2014.

  • Branded premiums
  • Branded attire
  • Vehicle wrap
  • Photography
  • Other application 1
  • Other application 2

Want to make this list yours? Download it as a Word document.

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