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Brand Bible by Debbie Millman

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BRAND BIBLE82
(Text)
Vintage Chanel No. 5
bottle
BREAkING
ThE moLD:
coco chANEL,
kRUEGER
BEER, AND
LAcoSTE

and
06
 was a
time of great societal transformation, insti-
gated and marked by the arrival of new
products, technologies, and forms of visual
communication. The emergence of continu-
ous-process manufacturing, combined with
the invention of oset printing, made the crea-
tion and marketing of mass-produced goods
possible, and allowed manufacturers to use
packaging and graphics to speak directly to
consumers, who began asking for specic
brands. In this way, the package itself became
the hallmark of a products quality and the
point of dierentiation. Then, as now, it was
common for the various product oerings in a
single category—beauty products, beverages,
or food—to conform to a specic look. Tradi-
tionally, these product norms were dened by
the company that was the leader or the rst
brand in a category. But in the early 1900s, a
number of brands broke away from the “stand-
ard rule,” establishing a new design aesthetic
and altering consumer expectations. Three
notable examples of such successful brand-
ing mavericks from this era are ChanelNo.5,
Krueger Beer, and Lacoste.
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83Breaking the Mold: Coco Chanel, Krueger Beer, and Lacoste
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BRAND BIBLE84
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85
deep at the same time, and that powerful simplic-
ity carried over to the perfume’s sleek package
design. ChanelNo.5’s understated bottle, with
its clean lines and pared-down label, embodied
the sentiment often attributed to Chanel; that
“elegance is refusal.
When it launched in 1921, ChanelNo.5 was sold
exclusively in the Chanel store in Paris. Even
without an initial marketing campaign or public
relations eorts, the fragrance quickly became
a brand synonymous with style and luxury. Its
popularity was mainly driven by word of mouth,
thanks to the connections Chanel had culti-
vated through her social milieu. This new style
of marketing, or lack thereof, turned her social
network into passionate brand advocates. And
due to its prestige, women began to actively seek
out the perfume and thus to dictate growth in
the market. Just as Chanel’s perfume redened
the fragrance category, it also redened women’s
power as consumers.
Chanel Reinvents Scent
At the turn of the twentieth century, women’s
perfume had its own aesthetic of conformity:
Bottles were highly decorative, often featuring
embellished designs in an art nouveau style. The
contents of these elaborate receptacles were also
extravagant: Women’s perfumes were lush and
oral, based on essences of rose, lily of the valley,
and lilac. The French fashion designer Coco
Chanel, already famous by the early 1920s for her
millinery and clothing design, thought these oral
perfumes did not reect women’s true character.
As she once said, “Women are not owers. Why
should they want to smell like owers?
With that as her guiding principle, Chanel sought
to create a perfume manufactured specically
for women and made from synthetic ingredients.
After enlisting the longtime perfumer Ernest
Beaux to craft the scent, she achieved her goal
with ChanelNo.5, one of the rst aldehyde-based
scents. The perfume is surprisingly simple, yet
The perfume is surprisingly simple, yet deep at
the same time, and that powerful simplicity
carried over to the perfume’s sleek package design.
Images from
Chanel No. 5
advertisement, 1961
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