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Vogue Brand Workshop: Key Learnings

Introduction

In the process of relaunching Vogue, much effort has been put into the brand's strategic development and creative output in terms of pack design. Although the pack concept is still a number of weeks away from final selection, it is now time to start the process of 'dimensionalising' Vogue and building a rounded personality for the brand.

Certainly, given the inevitability of ever darkening markets, the pack will be a key tool in the brand communications package. However, the pack will operate side by side with a brand world and communications platform, to support everyone who lives with, 'owns' and works with the brand - so that they always have the full picture and understand what needs to be front of mind for the consumer.

The purpose of the Brand Workshop was to start the process of development by opening up the debate about the Vogue brand template, brand identity and product strategy. It is the first stage in the process to deliver a through-the-line communications platform and one which has real meaning for the consumer.

The focus of the workshop was to explore brand behaviour and build up a picture of the brand 'codes' - the emotions and behaviours that might be delivered by the brand, visions and attitudes, how the brand might feel and think, what it might stand for, its inherent norms and values.

This was a creative brainstorm, there were no black and white answers.

Packaging Research Results

The session opened with a topline summary of the first round of pack research. For the purposes of the workshop, the key learnings from the research provided a useful context for our debate and most interestingly, some strong parallels between the consumer insights and the developing brand concepts:

• Consumers appear to desire a more female yet inclusive pack
• They favoured the strong emotional and tactile value of the Texture route
• The originality and creativity of the pack was hugely appealing
• They enjoyed the 'carefree' nature and spontaneity of the handwriting
• The pack touched core female and style values
The emotional warmth delivered by the pack was key
Dark, bold colours were highly appealing, communicating richness, indulgence and style

Key learnings from the brand template and the identity building sessions.

This is the list of key learnings emerged from the Template discussion and the Brand identity exercises.

1. Vogue is about moods and emotions:

The brand is about 'what I feel' not 'what I do'. It is inner-directed - a subtle reflection and contrasting of emotional mood, not necessarily about external interpretations. The portrayal of moods and emotions gives Vogue its depth and dimension. Through its emotional 'rainbow', the brand embraces possibility and looks for what could be. Vogue is mystery there is always more to Vogue than meets the eye - a distinctive allure that avoids definition. This is a key aspect of the brand.

2. Vogue is not perfect:

Perfection is boring, perfection is static, perfection is stereotyped and superficial. Perfection is just too aspirational. Vogue has weaknesses, Vogue has moments of vulnerability, Vogue has attitude. This is a beautiful brand, but a fully rounded one too.

Vogue has the strength to be fragile, it can be weak and highly strung. The brand has an edge, an attitude, an element of grit. It isn't afraid of ugliness or anger, or honesty and it can be provocative, can be challenging and certainly demanding.

It is a brand where personality counts - 'I enjoy being messy'* - full of energy, optimism and ideas. A passionate, ballsy 'life is for living' attitude.

* "Messy" - Attitudinally toward life rather than appearance

3. Vogue loves contradiction and paradox:

It's what gives women strength and power and they love to play with it. It's what makes them different from men. You will never get to the bottom of Vogue - it was never meant to be understood. It is a brand of many layers - changeable, intuitive and spontaneous, sometimes rational, sometimes emotional, but always ingenious. Vogue is not afraid to be different. Always expect the unexpected.

4. Vogue is a honey pot of sensations

The multi-sensory nature of the brand is at the heart of everything is does. Vogue is art through life, crossing cultures, crossing influences - an intensity of colour, movement, activity and sensation. Vogue embrace of life's sensory pleasures.

5. Vogue enjoys being beautiful:

The brand has a strong sensual side which places indulgence and pleasure in the everyday. Vogue is creative, beautiful and inspiring. But the brand is more than a beautiful accessory -beauty is in its very soul, a simple, unembellished, subtle beauty - an attitude to life and the world around.

6. Vogue can misbehave:

Because the brand has a strong sense of itself, it can be playful about its identity and environment. The brand definitely has a 'naughtiness' about it - a knowing, calculating element which enjoys 'a favourite vice'. The brand doesn't take itself too seriously, it has a strong sense of irony, it knows how to laugh at itself. It is expressive, it is flirtatiousness and it is prepared to break convention and stretch the limits.

7. Vogue shows emotional intelligence:

Vogue knows how to connect and how to communicate - all 'chic chicks and intelligent' There is great 'savoire vivre' about the brand, a self-awareness, kind of knowing which is highly engaging - poetry, imagination and ingenuity all rolled into one.

8. Vogue needs room to be spontaneous:

Vogue is alive with possibility - choose what you want to do, who you want to be. Vogue is a statement of your personality, you add the ending to make the brand work. Allow the consumer to be herself, and build her own relationship with Vogue. There is always a place for spontaneity and free will with Vogue. Don't straight-jacket the brand.

9. Vogue is an enduring symbol:

The brand is a juxtaposition of old and new - a historical drama with a modern mantra. Vogue is a brand with a timeless philosophy, always able to reinvent, to contemporise itself. Vogue is always relevant. An icon.

Once Upon a Time - The Story of Vogue

Because the brand has always caught the Zeitgeist, the mood of the time, it could have been born in any period of artistic or cultural rebellion in the 20th Century - the 1900's, the 1920's, the 1960's. Vogue has been wherever new ground was being broken in art, in literature, in architecture, design or fashion. Vogue was part of all these movements, in Paris, in Madrid, Berlin, Milan, London. A couture brand for couture women who knew how to behave badly.

The Vogue story is one of:

• Energy and optimism
• Highest quality, hand made
• Care and attention to detail
• Boundless energy, motivation and ideas
• Not afraid to be different, to stand out from the crowd
• Emotional pleasure
• Beauty with attitude
• Mystical allure
• Creative, beautiful and inspiring
• Exclusive, elegant, word of mouth
• What things could be

Who would have smoked Vogue:

Coco Chanel
Shiaparelli
Dorothy Parker
Ingrid Bergman
Lauren Bacall
Josephine Baker
Twiggy
Isabella Rossellini
Catherine Deneuve

Vogue Imagery Associations

• Juxtaposition of round and linear forms, of hard and soft, strong and fragile, yin and yang
• Juxtaposition of images and textures to work on both emotional and rational level
• Sensual, ambiguous imagery
• Warm, bold, strong colours
• Birth, life, natural, organic, tactile symbols
• Fluid, dynamic shapes

Product Strategy

Product positioning 'Sensory smoking pleasure' debated. Question mark over whether the concept is truly deliverable. It was agreed that further refinement is needed before we check its validity with consumers.

Next Steps

The key learnings from the brand template and the identity building sessions will be taken forward into the development of both the marketing toolkit and the design language for the brand The key issue is that these both tie into the pack design. The pack will be the most important expression of the brand but the learnings from this session will inform the development of the toolkit and TTL communications platform.

Once the pack has been agreed on, the Vogue brand capital and value proposition can be fully developed and the design language for brand architecture, merchandise items etc. can begin in earnest.

The workshop output provides inspiration for the communications platform that which will lead the marketing plan.

Action

• To absorb learnings from communications research (particularly re 'tone and character' reference for further development of communications ATL)
• To fully define the Vogue brand capital and build the value proposition
• To begin brand architecture process, (brand philosophy and design language) with Fitch as partners.
• Strategic work on marketing toolkit to commence

None of the above can be fully finalised until a packaging concept, logo and identifier have been agreed.

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