Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The essence of style

What is "style"? How do consumers know it when they see it? Do they see it, or do they feel it? Is it nothing more than the essence of attachment to those they admire, and find more attractive than themselves?

When it comes to products, how can they best be tested for "style"? Directly, through observation? Or, through association to the people consumers consider to be stylish?

In an July 30, 2007 article in Advertising Age, author Gregg Gilman noted:

"It's no secret that marketers often consider the appearance of an ad agency's employees to be one indicator of how their accounts will be handled. As a result, successful people in the industry have learned to be image-conscious.
These unwritten codes have led some agencies to question whether to apply them in a hiring situation. Can agencies really use appearance as a criterion in selecting employees? Yes. But they must walk a thin line........
The bottom line is this: While it may seem unfair for companies to base hiring decisions on preconceived notions of attractiveness, the law generally does not protect individuals from discrimination based on appearance. As long as attractiveness criteria are applied to different classes of people equally, the practice is generally lawful."

In businesses -- like advertising and design -- where the end deliverable is the application of "positive associations" to products, brands and services, the need to be attractiveness in the minds of their clients is paramount. In this sense, is the use of the word "stylish" just a euphemism for the basic feeling of attraction one feels towards those who are more innately attractive, and the objects associated with them?

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