Visual Branding

Nothing conveys the identity of a brand quite like its advertising and more and more mainstream fashion brands are attempting to tweak their image via campaigns that utilize fashion’s biggest powerplayers. Case in point, the F/W campaign for conservative brand, Talbots features the edgy pairing of Linda Evangelista and Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott. Meanwhile Jones New York enlists Annie Leibovitz and a slew of top names like Hilary Rhoda, Jessica Stam, Hana Soukupova, Jacquetta Wheeler, Du Juan, Yasmin WarsameAminata Niaria and Ujjwala Raut for their ads. Not to be left in the dust, mall staple Esprit enlists Coco Rocha for its collection ads and Anne Vyalitsyna, Du Juan and Missy Rayder by Mariano Vivanco for the mainline.

The addition of a familiar (and fashionable) face can add a layer of cool to a brand’s image, but does the trick work? Did any of these ads enhance your opinion of the labels in question? Tell us.

Linda for Talbots

Jones New York’s impressive cast

Esprit chose top models like Coco, Missy, Du & Anne V for both its lines

  1. I have a feeling these ads are going to stand out much more in the magazine pages than the more “blue chip” brands. They’re simple and get the point across without all the extra flash. Jones is absolutely amazing and I could look at anything Coco does all day. But actually, Linda’s doesn’t look all that simple. If you look at her silhouette, there is a curve that begins with the slight curve at the hat that continues all the way down, giving the impression of motion even though she’s not moving at all. Brilliant.

  2. Linda looks amazing. Boy can she wear a print! Talbots rocks.

    The Jones NY is pretty dry. For a brand that usually offers a variety of look, in addition to their black, this is perhaps a bit severe. It takes the notion of New Yorkers in black to a entirely new level of literal. With that said, I kinda like it. Only because of the stellar casting.

    Quite an upgrade of Espirit. Coco’s “come frolick in the forest” smirk is dynamite. Missy is beauty.

  3. To answer your question, Janelle, YES, the addition of a “fashionable and cool face” works, especially for these types of brands. The general public might not know their names, but their faces are recognizable. Even Linda E, who is the least recognizable super out of all the supermodels (because she constantly changes her look) is still a face that people look at and think, “She looks familiar…”.

  4. The ads are great but as usual the old guard is the standout. Linda Naomi and Christy and Kate can make anything look fantastic. It is a gift that linda especially has not lost

  5. lindas may look great but its also very, very photoshopped. coco is incredible, and should not have been taken out of the top ten in my opinion. dont like stam in jones’ but hilary looks wonderful, and its great to see du juan getting work sagain! one of the most beautiful asian models around.


  7. Great to see Linda doing something besides L’Oreal…it’s a nice ad. Jones NY is great, too. A lot of great faces here and such a great shot. I love the models in the Esprit but the ads don’t do anything for me. I’d like to see younger-older models in editorials. Linda and Coco or Daria would be awesome!

  8. La Linda looks simply stunning as always. Jones cast is amazing! what dolce,valentino,versace casts should be more like….

  9. @jake

    Even 17yr old girls are now being photoshopped, why not a 45 year old like Linda?

    Linda is the Meryl Streep of Modelling. You want to be the best in the business? You need to study her!

    Linda made it to the Top with Hardwork, determination, True Talent and made skills,

  10. Linda looks good but the coat looks like something from “Real Housewives of …” so no having even a great model cannot make a gaudy overworked piece of clothing desirable.

  11. “Du Juan is one of the most beautiful Asian models around”

    I’m sure you meant well with this statement but I can’t help but interpret it as thinking she is NOT one of the the most beautiful models around but if you just count her among the other Asian models then she is.

  12. Jones NY really stand out!!! and much better than other European super brands this season. it’s very unique and refects the musculine simplicity trend that’s coming out strong this season. loooove the business women in train station ad. A+++ for me. Du Juan is my fav. Asian model ever, she’s got a very unique look, all other orientals are looking somewhat similar to me. but there’s definitely sth that’s unduplicatable about her face 🙂

  13. about the branding issue, i think it has become a ‘formula’ to use famous faces for all fashion brands, from super brands to high street brands. however i think no matter how the much you spend on marketing, it’s still the products that’re going to sell at the end of the day.

  14. In general, yes I think it does work. Of course, the products have to back up the image. I think Linda will reach a different group of women for Talbots, Jones NY works well. Esprit.. I think they have tried this before. I remember an article maybe in the late 90s (Top Model magazine maybe? Yes, I am that old haha) talking about how they were bring in the biggest girls to recapture the cache’ they had in the 80s. Didn’t work then, we will see if it works now.

  15. For those that don’t know, Talbots is an American brand that catered to conservative, working women. Everything was the same, down to the red doors on each of their stores and the logo. They’ve now overhauled their entire image — removed the red doors, changed the logo, and added more edgy pieces to their inventory. Linda Evangelista along with Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott were hired (Linda for one season only) to inaugurate this “new” Talbots and to lend a sense of fashion authenticity.

    Does it work? In my eyes, it most certainly does. Talbots has always been the store that I ignored. I still don’t know if I will purchase any of their new merchandise (although that hat just might join my winter wardrobe this season) but these ads have encouraged me to at least walk through their door and check things out. And of course, Linda is irresistible.

    The same tactic works here with Jones NY. I never completely abandoned Jones NY because their branding was always more contemporary than Talbots. But in these ads, I am seeing some familiar, beautiful, and confident faces (as in Linda’s Talbots adverts) in a very cool setting. I *want* to look as good as these women when I’m getting on the subway to go to work.

    So yes, I believe this formula will work. At least for these particular formerly “dowdy” brands.

  16. Coco for esprit???
    What THE hell is happening to this business…are supermodels on sale? This used to be a brand for new face models that needed to get out there, the same for HM divided, starring abbey Lee, etc..what is there for the new faces to do?
    Bunch of crap that’s what i call it!!!

  17. Radouane, it’s just not that simple. I suggest you check out Espirit’s financials. They’re not exactly a healthy company, financially speaking. Hiring Coco and other somewhat recognizable and fashionable faces is what you do to attract sales, otherwise the competition and the economy will shut the entire chain down. And if that were to happen, NO models will be getting those jobs. This is VERY serious.

    I don’t understand some of the “model watchers” sometimes. There are those who think that even Linda shouldn’t be doing Talbots because she’s taking away jobs from the generation below her, event though it’s a company that is for women in their 30s and 40s. It’s so silly.

  18. thank you, explanation!
    it’s only that when you look at a brand as Esprit, it is better to keep that commercial touch in the brand, by using girls like Anne Vyalitsina (hope its correct spelled) (a girl that you want to introduce to your parents), that’s how people that wear Esprit want to look like. it’s not high-fashion, not even close, it’s mass market. so keep it simple, but joi-de-vivre.

    but also regarding using girls like these doesn’t guarantee turnover, a good product does that…putting a right and wide image for a brand like this as well.
    paying more money for a big girl like this doesn’t guarantee more turnover…it’s only confusing, she doesn’t fit the brand.. a women that wears esprit, is the normal housewife with kids, that once in a while does a little trip with the kids to the beach wearing esprit-stuff, because it looks ok and wears cosy..but ofcourse that’s only my opinion. she looks too “hard”.

    the market is confusing anyway and we have to stay in touch with our gut feeling.
    crisis doesn’t change that. as soon as abrand feels shaky because stocks are going down..then we already have problem..or i they need a new captain to steer that ship. what about 2008 when the had their best turnover since years..they used simple as well, but they had a great turnover 😉

    i didn’t knew the Talbot brand, but looking at the coat it totally fits Linda’s age at the offense Linda 😉
    but the lightning in the picture, the way she looks up, teh make-up and the hat totally brings up the equity for that brand.
    i feel feels right’.

    looking at coco’s image,..i am confused..i simply don’t understand..i only ruled that shoot, not the equity of the brand.

    we have a saying in holland..(weirdly translated it’s:)
    if you push a cat in narrow corner, he can make crazy jumps(i add, so you’d be careful)

    but enfin..thank you for your lovely discussion. i appreciate it.

  19. Linda just single-handedly elevated the Talbot brand. She made it look like a Dolce and Gabbana luxe coat!

    Ps: is Talbot the East Coast version of Chico’s in California? I let me know!

  20. Peter, and that is exactly Talbot’s intent. I just checked their website — Talbots is based in the U.S. with stores nationwide and they also have a presence in Canada and five stores in Japan.

    @radouane: The pleasure is all mine! But to continue this further a bit — we’ll know if these brand’s strategies worked if profits increase and they repeat the strategy next season.

  21. For 1, it usually takes atleast a couple of seasons for soild turnover statistics to trickle in especcially after implementing new marketing strategies – most specifically a change of face.

    All of the elements discussed are a part of a new, holistic venture by such brands. In addition to the updated faces, the actual design is upgraded as Kim noted above. The Talbots coat would look like Dolce regardless of Linda. Her presence just makes it real. Talbots has always represented the more chic, modernly fashionable woman.

    In regards to Espirit vs. Coco – Espirit is playing it smart by reflecting a newer, edgier personality that is more and more prevelant in society. Many, from active moms, the women next door and down to the tree huggers who brown bag it are displaying an interest in a more fashion forward wardrobe which fits the purpose but doesn’t necessarily scream fashion. Using top models assures that you will get a certain level of emotion and presence. A top model is a top model for a reason. It’s not such a new concept, though this batch is carefully crafted to a near seamless factor of “newness”

    Espirit’s use of Coco symbolizes a smart, secure, active, yet sexy woman. An image that should resonate with the current mass.

    @ Peter – Chicos originated in Florida in the 1980’s. so it too is an East Coast sorta deal. Talbots – established the late 1940’s Massachsettes predates Chicos.

  22. It is a good thing that these companies decided to pay a bit more out of their pockets for the seasonal campaigns. These type of jobs are essential for the industry. These are called ‘money jobs’ anyway. That’s a fact. On the other hand, I AM NOT INSPIRED!

  23. well I love it because the 90’s models worked for the Big blue chip brands and smaller lesser known/popular brands as well. they did it all! no celeb faces. I just want models models models in all ads, whether big or small. it works for me, models faces/ability to photograph well captures me everytime more than the actress or singer on the next page…

  24. @Nigel

    that Talbot coat wouldn’t have the same effect if, let’s say Nikki Taylor or Vendela (and they’re high end) wore them. Linda conjures Money and Luxury like no other Girls. She exudes extravagance, Riche, and Expensive!

    That Talbot Coat was elevated to a higher level.

  25. junf, you’re venturing into the endless models/celebrity debate. All-model bookings for ads might work for you, but models don’t always appeal to all clients. It was a different time back then. Economic climate is different today and it’s all about staying competitive and staying out of the red.

  26. Yes Peter. That’s pretty much what I meant. Though as stated before, obviously (in actual reality) the coat looks like Dolce from a design standpoint, regardless of Linda. But Linda’s presence makes that gesture a tangible reality.
    No, it would not have the same level of impact if worn by a lesser model. Linda does what Linda does.

  27. The ads are great, the people are beautiful, and I’m certain they will help all those involved. I’m curious though, do the consumers who are being asked to participate with these brands actually know who these models are? If the argument is that top-models equal top performance which equals clear communication.. I get it. If there is a stance that these models are celebrities.. I think you need to take your industry blinders off.

  28. JNY – this is not empowering. I do not want to look like a drone. Joe v The Volcano. Women doing what men do. Looking like men look. We’ve come too far to take such a giant step backwards!

  29. I dont know if any of these really make a brand image impact except the one where the models are all in the train station. Its branding a personality – hot working women who take the train. All black as the New York cliche

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