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Brand Bible by Debbie Millman

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BRAND BIBLE20
(Text)
 to the Industrial
Revolution as the genesis of the contemporary age
of branding, arguing that the businesses of the era
“manufactured” new consumer tastes right along
with the mass-produced goods that signaled the
onset of our modern world. In fact, the enormous
increases in productivity that began in the late
eighteenth century were possible only after the
revolutionary transformation in consumer tastes,
desires, and aspirations that occurred during the
rule of Queen Elizabeth I, which lasted from 1558
to 1603. Once that shift had taken root, the societal
transformation began in earnest.
Fruits
oF the
elizabethan
era

02


Queen Elizabeth I was a true renaissance woman,
agile in political dealings, savvy in economic
matters, and well versed in the arts. She spoke
several languages, and she led her country through
a time of peace that had been unparalleled until
her reign. She had ascended to the throne after
a tumultuous history: Her mother, Anne Boleyn,
was executed after being convicted of indelity to
Elizabeth’s father, King Henry VIII, leaving the
child motherless from the age of two and a half. Her
half-sister, Mary, had her imprisoned in the Tower
of London.
Yet, from these unusual circumstances emerged
a monarch whose wisdom and political acumen
allowed her to preserve her power and expand the
scope of her countrys interests. The queen faced
challenges to her rule both from inside the coun-
try—Mary, Queen of Scots (not her sister, who had
died), was seen as a threat—and outside of it, so she
developed a strategy that would keep the members
of the nobility—and their capital—away from mili-
tary intrigues. Elizabeth turned her court into a
parade and theatrical spectacle.
Not only were the noble classes required to main-
tain temporary residences in London in order to
attend the lavish rituals of the court, the dictates
of sixteenth-century hospitality required them to
host as extravagant parties at their country estates
as well. A reputation for generosity was a sign of
Queen Elizabeth I
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BRAND BIBLE22
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social distinction, an idea which Elizabeth master-
fully exploited. In fact, the most lavish of all feasts
at that time was in honor of Elizabeth herself: The
annual Accession Day, celebrating the queen’s
ascension to the throne, was a feast of such epic
scale that it was forever immortalized in Edmund
Spenser’s poem, “The Faerie Queene.”
Her predecessors in the monarchy had controlled
the elite by way of economics, and in that sense,
Queen Elizabeth’s system was neither new nor
revolutionary. Yet, by transforming the framework
for what and how the nobility would spend their
wealth, she dramatically altered the system of
consumption.

The East India Company was charted by Eliza-
beth in 1600, her forty-second year as queen. The
company brought colorful fabrics, calicoes, spices,
and other exotic items from the Indian subconti-
nent to English shores. These items quickly found
a receptive audience in British noble society and
began to transform not only the tastes and buying
habits of the nobles but also courtly society as well.
These treasures had an exotic appeal. Back at Her
Majestys court, the attending nobility impressed
and wooed the queen with these delights.
Up to this time, matters of patina and family heir-
loom were the key indicators for conveying a familys
social status. Patina referred to the wear on a
family heirloom—the oxidation on a gold or copper
piece, for example—showing how long a family had
been in high standing by communicating how long
they had been in possession of these particular
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