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This is a little story of some coffee conversation that turned into a mild condemnation leading into a possible recommendation. Historically, the last time this happened was when some frantic AD pollster person, we knew where her bread was buttered, called quite upset about this new thing called TIVO—an end to advertising most assuredly. I told her it meant nothing to the whole and her job was safe. She was aghast. I elected not to explain. Have we heard that TIVO is now selling air time? Anyhow…

As DKNY became a premier brand it appeared that the fashion world would succumb to 'initial mania'. Acknowledging that this arena is a major copy-catting theater, Xxx Xxx launched XXX, an acronym based line, as some sort of co-brand, in a seasonal catalogue. ( Hmm, X X Incorporated.) I opined about sophistication, destinations and sailing off to X, making X, all those ‘things’. We then played around with mnemonics, tectonics and other 'ic' things, and followed with this old fashion ‘Not-For-Nuthin’ letter:

February 25, 2002 (YEP - That Long Ago).The World did not end.....

Xxx Xxx
Vice President Marketing
Xxx Xxx, Inc.
New York, NY

RE: Marketing/Branding Blunder per Chance

Dear Xxx:

Having been a fan of Xxx Xxx to this day—we all have liked your wears for some time; it is with some trepidation that I do approach you with a concern and a bit of altruism in the spirit.

Some parties in your company have decided to do a mid-course branding change with the “XXX” logo. Not many companies have survived something like this for more than 3-5 years. We, here, feel it is a pretty good mistake

For multiple marketing/branding reasons, which we shall not go into here, we feel it carries poorly.

Secondly, let’s vocalize your creation:

                X … X … I …; XX … I …; XXXXXX …; Xxxxxxx…

We tried it here and the results were purely accidental. We looked at each other and, well, our comments were not flattering. Perhaps you might want to undo before the change does get more permanent.

Xxx” carries quite a bit. You threw it away.

Best regards,


Interestingly enough the sub-brand, new brand, whatever, disappeared for some time. We were unsure of the fate of the branding wizard who pushed the “Initialaria”. We were tickled to read in Crain’s New York Business, October 21, 2002”: (Only excerpts included.)

Xxx Xxx seeks more cheap-chic shoppers”

‘Cataloger Xxx Xxx self-edits’

Sultry models stare out from the pages of the Spring 2003 issue, posing and pouting in weathered denim and sexy suits. Tucked in among the trendy fashions, chatty blurbs tell readers how to mix and match the season’s hottest looks.

But this isn’t an issue of InStyle or Lucky—successful women’s magazines that translate fashion into easy-to-understand features. It’s the new look of Xxxx Xxx, Inc., a catalogue company that has quietly built a $xxx million business selling its own brand of inexpensive womenswear.

The Manhattan-based division of Yyyyy Inc. is taking inspiration from its glamorous cousins and morphing into a magalog.

Designed like a fashion magazine …. There’s even an editor-in-chief letter from Xxx Xxx President Xxxx Xxxxxx explaining the changes. … Xxx Xxx stumbled last year after an aggressive push to sign up more customers … backfired. … …

In her third avenue office, she excitedly shows off sample pages for the new catalogue … Her aim is to attract more shoppers without alienating the core customer … …

Against this backdrop Ms. Xxxxxxx has focused on shoppers who earn more money and have stronger credit profiles. [New target (from the mean age of 42) is from 20 to 50.] etc., etc.

Suffice it to say they did well with their classier, “Xxxxxxier” launch. Occasionally XXX graces a page or three. Just another coincidence? Curiously, without minding them any further I did catch a catalogue or two the other day. Curiouser and curiouser, they seem to have brought in some new paradigms or people. The clothes appeared to lack much functionality and studying them more closely I cannot recall seeing much of that on the street. Perhaps their target audience is different now. We had some fun with the project and supported a company our crew liked.

Bon chance,

Mon Ami

Different staff, different associates, different …………….

Design & Branding