KH Insight Report — 01
Long-time fans of Harlem couturier Dapper Dan choked on their coffee when an official collaboration with Gucci was announced in 2017. After being sued into extinction for copyright infringement decades earlier, Dapper Dan’s creations were now being copied by Gucci.
Discussions of cultural appropriation aside, there was one phenomenon which became evident – brands had come full circle, originals were copied, and the copies became originals. Marcel Duchamp would have rejoiced.
That the lines between real and fake, original and re-mix have become blurred, pretty accurately describes the playing field in the world of fashion and consumer products in 2018. The most influential brands have all fully converted from being amplifiers of trends or ideals to becoming conduits that allow creativity to flow both to and from consumers.
How do you maintain your brand experience if your audience is invited to co-create?
In 2018, the Dapper Dans – creators with a following – are allowed to play and create using branded resources. Graffiti artist Gucci Ghost was not sued by Gucci Owner, Kering, rather he was invited to co-create a collection together with creative director Alessandro Michele. Dapper Dan’s 80s puffy sleeve jacket (featuring Louis Vuitton logos without authorization) was suddenly copied by Gucci.
These examples from the world of luxury fashion are analogue to what is happening in the rest of retail. Influencers and KOLs are arguably the most important marketing tools available to marketeers around the world. Brands who manage them right, have quickly risen to become top money makers such as XiaoMi or Daniel Wellington. And many successful brands have relinquished control, invited their fans to re-mix, add, subtract, co-create and publish.
However, this reality puts great demands on how brands are constructed. How do you maintain your brand experience if your audience is invited to co-create? How do you design an identity strong enough to work in all thinkable and un-thinkable settings and on all platforms?
We believe part of the answer is to go back to basics in order to identify the fundamental core elements of your brand, and to bring forth strong and simple visual components that your audience can recognize regardless of setting. And make your brand purpose inclusive. If your brand does not engage, you will not move from being a sender of information to becoming part of a context.
It has always been true that you cannot wholly control your brand expression. But in 2018, you need to embrace this uncertainty.
Get in touch to let us know your thoughts and how we can help you create elevated experiences for your brand.