Travel editor Stanley Moss has had his finger on the pulse of the Zeitgeist for a long time. Over the last 15 years, he’s circulated his Global Brand Letter to colleagues, friends and subscribers. In 2004, this was a two-page crib sheet, sent to clients who had asked questions about branding, and, in Stanley’s words, he found himself ‘wrestling to keep up with terminology’. These became ever-larger, ever-grander annual events, and the 2007 edition is where the familiar ingredients come together. We all looked forward to the Letter each year, and in 2018, Stan reduced the frequency to six-monthly but still managed to pack as much in to each one. The latest is 18 pp., a far cry from the two-pager in 2004.
The branding world affects us hugely in fashion, where the difference between two labels could well come down to how their brands are perceived; but it goes deeper than that. A world traveller—as Lucire readers know—Stanley brought together inputs from all over the globe, including places where he worked as a branding practitioner, and for many years, the CEO of Medinge Group, the think-tank over which we first conversed some 17 years ago.
This year, he’s brought 15 years’ worth of his work into a single volume, called Nuclear Brands: 15 Years of History, Reflections and Prediction. As you read through, you realize Stanley’s been extremely prescient, the sort of insight you only get from an expert practitioner. In that period we’ve gone from looking at globalization and social responsibility to social media and the false promise (and premise) of influencers. He includes each of his ‘What is a brand?’ sections, bringing together different professionals’ views, proving that if you ask a dozen different people, you’re going to get a dozen different answers. It also illustrates the fluidity of the concept over the last decade and a half.
Stanley has chosen to present his work in reverse chronological order, which struck me as curious initially, till I began reading, discovering that the 2019 edition gets us in a world of the familiar—nanoinfluencers, China’s social-credit system, and Dolce & Gabbana’s recent fallout. Read through and you realize that the dates don’t always marry up with when the concepts became mainstream: he’s generally been ahead with what he’s identified, and the genius remains in how Stanley has brought disparate strands together.
At 239 pp., it’s a wonderfully engaging read, but for those who prefer quicker fare, Nuclear Brands is released with two briefer books. What Is a Brand? is a 19 pp. volume in its fourth edition, with a preface by Fritz Gottschalk and an introduction by Michael Wolff. The book comprises Stanley’s collections of people answering the book’s central question, as well as his own ruminations. The names are familiar to those who practise in this world, many with links back to Medinge: Ian Ryder, the late Colin Morley, the late Thomas Gad, Stephen Bayley, Jasper Conran, Ava Hakim, Malcolm Allan, Simon Paterson, Manas Fuloria, Patrick Harris, Erika Uffindell, the late Massimo Vignelli, and Cristián Saracco, among many others. The next title, What Did You Just Say?, is a fascinating collection of branding terms. This 24 pp. volume has entries from algorithmic governance to zero-day, terminology bandied about in the industry, with some having become mainstream (upcycling, collected 2011), others awaiting their turn (ultracrepdiarian sciolist surely is a term of our times).
All three are available on Amazon in paperback editions (links above), with Kindle editions for those preferring their books digital.—Jack Yan, Publisher