Hi everyone. This week we will speak about key characteristics of fashion communication. If the products incorporate the tangible dimension of fashion goods, it is through communication that companies create emotional association, consumer benefits, a lifestyle. Communication is what transforms the product into a brand. Fashion communication mainly focuses on the so-called dream factor. In their message, companies always covey imagery that is made of very beautiful women, sometimes guys, the wear the most beautiful dresses in the bests location with the best makeup artist, hairdressing, and sometimes also the best Photoshop. The message always reminds us of the world of the happy few. However, communication at the same time also has the aim of making this dream accessible to everyone. It's through communication that companies create the desire of this world. Maybe we have never entered a luxury brand store; but for sure, we have seen their advertising campaigns, the billboards, the windows industry. Communication has to balance exclusivity of the message with the accessibility of the medium. Communication also depends on brand positioning very much; so communicating a mass market, sport, or casual product is not the same than communicating a luxury one. And as well of the different objectives the company may have. Generally speaking, we differentiate different levels of communication. We may communicate a product that in fashion is the seasonal collection. We may communicate the brand that is the personality, the essence that goes beyond the single collections and makes the companies recognizable and identifiable; or we may communicate the company itself, the corporate level. Companies may also have different objectives they want to pursue through their communication. The first thing they have to create is brand awareness. They need to be well known among consumers. If I create my brand from scratch I want you to associate my first name to the product I'm selling. I want to have the top of mind effect. To be known is a necessity but not a sufficient condition. Companies also have to seek for brand image. They have to be relevant. They don't need it to speak to everyone, they have to speak to those that are able to understand and are willing to share the lifestyle they propose. They have to communicate to the trend setters and to the pool of aspirational customers that can really understand the company's value proposition. In order to build their image they use their logo; they use their heritage; they use storytelling about the history, the place, The founder— but as well, they may describe the characteristics of the product like the craftsmanship involved through videos or other tools. Last but not least companies are companies. They also need to communicate at the corporate level. The aim here is to have all the stockholders the internal employees first; but then also the clients, the suppliers, the banks, and the local communities aligned to the strategy of the company. What the company needs is to have the best financial resources invested in the company and the best people willing to work in the company itself. They have to communicate their numbers. They have to communicate their strategy. They have to communicate what they do for profit but as well the planet and the people. In fashion and in luxury especially corporate social responsibility is becoming more and more important. As you may understand these different levels of communication require different competencies and attitudes. We have said that communication is a complex activity with different levels and different objectives, but what makes fashion communication different than any other industry’s? How was fashion able to be such a powerful language? There are some key characteristics that I want to highlight. The first is the importance of images. Fashion communication is very visual, it's based on pictures with the product and the logo, most of the time, that's all. If you think about even the most important designer brands, they do not have a payoff. They don't have a slogan that as a customer you may associate to the brand’s value proposition. There is not an equivalent of L'Oréal’s, “Because you're worth it,” or Nike’s, “Just do it,” etc…. They just have the product, the seasonal product, the model that is embodying the product, and then the logo. That's all. Why images? Because fashion is a very direct and also universal language. Fashion products are a communication cord on their own because through the product, the designers represent the evolution of the style as it is connected to society itself. And because of that, the product itself is the best protagonist to talk about the lifestyle that it conveys. Also, images let the customer, the person interpreting the communication, the freedom to give his or her own personal interpretation, his or her own personal view. Sometimes words frame the communication too much. Fashion companies do not want to be informative. They want to be emotional. They want to be inspirational. Lastly, it may be difficult to admit this for a person like me, a professor, spending the time talking, talking, and talking, but it has been proven that non-verbal communication is much more effective and memorable than verbal communication. Maybe at the end of this lecture you will remember my tone of voice, my gestures, my outfit, but not the content; hopefully not. This explains why fashion companies deciding to use pictures are much more effective than other industries that prefer to accompany the art the image part of their creativity with a comment. We said that pictures play an important role, that the product is at the center of the communication, and this makes fashion communication very recognizable. But it is also important to underline the role that is played by the designer him or herself. The designer is the ultimate decision-maker as far as the creativity of the communication of fashion companies is concerned. The reason is that the product conveys it's own name. Most of the designers do not accept other creativity overlapping their own vision. That's why they prefer to work with external professionals like art directors, stylists, casting directors, rather than traditional advertising agencies. The fact that the designer is making the ultimate decision also makes fashion communication very consistent. It is about the importance of the product, the visual, the designer, but as well about celebrity connections. Fashion companies have to create aspirational desire and therefore, they relate themselves to people that are most influential in terms of image. On their own side, celebrities need to be seen as sexy and skinny; which is something that fashion companies can provide them. It's a kind of mutual relationship that helps to make these dreams become tangible, that help the customer to associate the brand with the dream of the red carpet and the magic of it. Another very important thing is the importance of detail. Not everyone is doing well on this but it really makes a difference. Communication in fashion is about taking care of many different small details, All of them making a difference. It is not sufficient to have the best advertising. You need this best advertising to be in the right magazine. It is not sufficient to be in the right magazine. You need to be in the right space. That's why fashion brands are fighting to occupy the first positions. It's not sufficient to be in the right magazine in the right space. You need to be in the right issue as well. That's why the September issue is the most important. And so on, and so on, and so forth…. Every single detail may help build the brand’s personality or on the contrary, if the messages are not aligned, create confusion and difficulty for the customer to really perceive the image as the company who like to be understood. So evil is in the details. Last but not least, communication in fashion also has the scope of creating the mask. Is where the companies ask to there a little bit more. So from time to time companies need to be disrupted. They need to be fractured to innovate the language. A good example is when Dolce & Gabbana decided to invite to the front row of the fashion show the fashion bloggers. Nowadays this is very conventional, everybody's doing this. But when they did this it really created a breakthrough, and you know how difficult it is to seat people in the front row. So if you have the fashion bloggers in the first row, it means that someone else has to occupy a less nice position. Communication in fashion is a very powerful language. This is also granted thanks to the direct control of most of the activities. Fashion companies tend to be quite control freaks and they manage in house, usually, most of their activities: the photo-shooting, the media planning and buying, the event creation, and the digital environment. This high level of internal control assures consistency and the attention to details that is key. Understanding what a communication office does is therefore fundamental for understanding what makes communication in fashion different than in other industries. And this is the topic we will address next week with a major expert. Stay tuned. Ciao!