I lent out my copy of Diane von Furstenberg’s book The Woman I Wanted to Be and recently had it returned to me. I did a quick light read of it again and was reminded of a part that I think is awesome and something we can all learn from. It comes in the last fifteen pages of the book. She’s talking about the restructuring of her business in 2014 and the lack of focus on what the brand stood for. Hard to imagine isn’t it that a company as big as DVF could struggle with their brand message after 40 years?
Here’s what happened. Joel Horowitz, the DVF cochairman, asked all the executives to define the DVF woman in one sentence. “To his mounting frustration, he got a different answer each time, so he organized a focus session…”
They spent a whole day brainstorming to come up with three words that would exemplify DVF. With pizza and coffee to sustain them, by the end of the day, they’d zeroed in on these words: effortless, sexy, and on-the-go.
Diane says, “Those three words brought us clarity. If it isn’t effortless, if it isn’t sexy, if you cannot put it in a little suitcase, it’s not DVF.”
If we work with style, we work with a few well-chosen words
This story about what they do in multi-million dollar companies had me cheering on the sidelines. The power of a few words is evidenced to me every single time I do a style interview with a new client. Through a process of exercises, we create a style formula (a few words or phrases) that will be the blueprint for everything else we do together: shopping, styling new outfits from her existing wardrobe, evaluating her wardrobe at the beginning of each new season, and even packing her for trips. It’s an essential step; I never skip it.
Recently I was with a client I’ve had for years. Just like Diane von Furstenberg’s team was revisiting and redefining their brand, I was doing the same thing regarding my client’s style words. The next time I saw her she had a book about desserts sitting on her bed. “Brenda, you’ve been updating my style and I pulled this book out to make a dessert and look at the words! It’s exactly what you’re doing with my wardrobe. My look is easy, unexpected and sophisticated.”
So true! Those three words are ones that have guided us with each new outfit I make for her and everything we purchase. Those words get right to the point. They answer everything.
Could this Insta post lead to a style recipe?
On another style note, I was tickled by an Instagram post that an esteemed colleague had posted of zinnias. Geralin Thomas says in her post, “Zinnias are like the cheerleaders of the garden – perky, vibrant + strong. Now doesn’t Perky, Vibrant, and Strong sound like a great personal style recipe just waiting for someone to snap up?
Aren’t words terrific? They powerfully describe our products, companies, our personal style, our clients’ personal style and even Diane von Furstenberg’s giant empire.
Have you played with words recently?
If you’re interested in learning how I conduct my style interview from start to finish with new clients while at the same time gaining their trust and loyalty for life, check out Style Squared, my online course.