The Art Of Preppy Branding

April 24, 2011 - 8:40 am 8 Comments

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For most people, a polo shirt is just a polo shirt. While I don’t entirely disagree with that claim, it is impossible to ignore the innovative and painstakingly consistent branding that top sportswear designers have used to create their special niche in the preppy world. Take four brands: Ralph Lauren, Lacoste, Brooks Brothers, and Vineyard Vines. Each company has had great success with its line, even though some have been around longer than others. To the objective eye, they all manufacture colorful polo shirts with critters on the left breast. However the branding each company develops transmits a specific message to the masses, making each stand out its own way and attract people accordingly.

In honor of polo shirt season, I’m going to bestow some special honors on these four preppy contenders based on their recent branding campaigns.

The Classic Award Goes To…The Pony. Blue-blooded American is the best way to describe Ralph Lauren’s advertisement for BIG PONY, the new men’s fragrance line that’s been popping up in every. single. fashion. magazine. Rekindling the root of what RL the brand was founded on, the iconic ad features four incredibly good-looking polo players. Each fresh-faced male is appealing in his own way, just as each scent offers something different, yet they all look effortlessly classic – like it’s intrinsic to their very being.

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The Chic Award Goes To…The Crocodile. For decades, French brand Lacoste has made its mark with European chic sportswear. As their most recent advertisement illustrates, Lacoste isn’t afraid to be a little quirky while still remaining high-end. The “Unconventional Chic” ad stars model Anja Rubik, sporting a slinky, shimmery evening gown with a simple white polo shirt on top – certainly unusual, but undeniably a blend of luxurious apparel. “We wanted a campaign that was an affirmation of the brand statement as a whole,” said CEO Christophe Chenut. “We’re showing that you can be chic in a different way, not just when you are dressed up for a party or for the office.”

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The Old School Award Goes To…The Golden Fleece. The 2011 Suprima Collection from Brooks Brothers ad campaign is as old as the Greek myth that inspired the logo. Depicting conservatively dressed friends at an outdoor gathering, the atmosphere generated by the ad is undeniably stuffy, appealing to those of traditional values and country club lifestyles. The Brooks Brothers website is of the same caliber, featuring tips on “Proper Etiquette for Golf” and “How to Dress When Attending An Outdoor Event.” Emily Post would undoubtedly approve.

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The Laidback Award Goes To…The Whale. Vineyard Vines is all about the Good Life. Inspired by summers growing up in Martha’s Vineyard, the clothing incorporates colorful patterns of sailboats, beach chairs, crabs, etc…, all evocative of summer’s finest moments. Every catalog contains photos of smiling families, friends, and wedding parties wearing the brand, firmly instilling the feeling that Vineyard Vines brings people together. Instead of using professional models, Vineyard Vines selects college students, sailors, their own employees – anyone who enjoys the Good Life really – to represent the brand in the catalog pages. Each person has a story (and wears Vineyard Vines while telling it). Right now, Vineyard Vines is in the middle of its Spring Tour, road tripping all over the East Coast in this brightly patchworked vehicle.

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8 Responses to “The Art Of Preppy Branding”

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  2. Jeje Says:

    I agree but this is not always true… another thing: what would everyone do if I had 5 million dollar?

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