We are delighted to announce that we have been appointed by the private equity firm that has taken ownership of the House of Hardy Amies to produce the brand’s new verbal identity, verbal branding and brand strategy.

Here’s how we went about it.

Sir Hardy Amies was a sharp-witted, self-confessed social-climber. He would have needed no guidance himself in styling the brand’s verbal identity. But as happens a lot when the walking-talking embodiment of a brand gives up walking and talking, those left behind have conflicting views of how their brand should think and talk about itself.

I took an evening off thinking about the verbal strategy to go and hear Stephen Sondheim at the Cheltenham Literary Festival. Two interesting things from that evening:

1. Yes, the man who wrote West Side Story is indeed still alive.

2. He pointed out the subtle difference between Noël Coward and Cole Porter: both were verbally playful and both were obsessed with teasing high society, but Cole Porter was born into that world and wrote affectionately about it (take a song about a great party: “Well, Did You Evah!”) whereas Noel Coward was an outsider and couldn’t help himself from mocking it (take a song about a great party: “I Went to a Marvellous Party”).

Inspired, I returned to Savile Row and explained to the new owners of the Hardy Amies’ brand the difference between being droll and being bitchy – and about how every piece of a brand’s communication (from the ad campaign to the website blog, from the Chairman’s speech to the legalese at the bottom of the emails) needs to be written with an appreciation of the consumer’s world which is as deep as the consumer’s.

Our 3 month project to develop the Verbal Identity is now underway – and the world’s other greatest living Stephen has already become a fan.

If you’d like to find out about the creative standards Stephen Sondheim sets himself and how he feels when he doesn’t meet them, listen here: Front Row podcast

If you’d like to find out more about how defining a Verbal Identity can change a company’s thinking as much as its communication, please email me.

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