The Creation Of Valor
“When I searched the internet I found the thoughts of Bob. That was in February. So I wrote him an email explaining my plans I was looking for someone who could develop the brand into something that is different and connects to the consumer on an emotional level, but doesn’t forget the product. So that’s how we started.” says Michael.
As part of a root and brand examination of what Valor represents, Michael has tapped into a wealth of knowledge and experience possessed by Bob and Fresh and came up with a genuinely interesting vision which offers a real point of difference to the market.
“First, we visited lots of cities, lots of stores, and from that experience we developed our own fresh perspective and vision,” says Michael.
“We see the consumer as a 21st century warrior. Not in a violent way but in a way that is competitive; he wants to win. That part is crucial. From this we started to create a brand that acted in the same way a Nike, or other performance brands. That was my brief to Bob, I wanted to create a menswear brand that acts in the same way as a sportswear brand.”
Luckily for Michael and Valor, it is in the sports performance field that Fresh Britain has the most impressive track record. Their network of athletes and sporting contacts, plus time-served experience as the starting point for Fresh, as Bob explains.
“In the last 10 years I have asked the same question of three world-class athletes and they’ve come back with the same conclusion. The question I asked was if you look better do you perform better? The first person I asked was the Olympic 1500m gold medallist Grant Hackett. We were working on Fastskin and I asked him whether it works. He said ‘it works, I look fast. I look faster than my competitors. I feel fast therefore I’ll swim faster.”
“I asked the same question to a guy called David Benedek, who at the time was the best snowboarder in the world. I asked him if he looks down at the design of his board, does it help? He said ‘if I look good I’m more confident and I’ll do better tricks.”
“I asked the same of Mike Douglas the free-style skier, who said the same thing. And so aesthetics and how you look determines how you perform. It’s the same as when you were 7 years old and you played football for the first time and you wore your new boots and kit, with your shirt tucked in it helped you to believe you could play. And you did play better than you would in your jeans. So aesthetic as a performance attribute is a really powerful insight that not many brands get, certainly not in the suiting and tailoring sector.”
“It’s a really powerful thing to be able to say to someone ‘I will make you perform better, your job as a 21st century warrior is to go into a boardroom and convince, lead, persuade, charm, seduce. And all those things you will do, if you look better, you’ll perform better.”
With such comprehensive insight, Fresh were ideally qualified to treat Valor as a slightly unlikely performance brand. Applying those same sensibilities to a tailoring brand isn’t such a leap though, as Michael continues.
“The same goes for a lawyer. There are people who say to me ‘I have a certain lawsuit in which I need to look powerful, so we look for the specific cloth that will make him feel powerful. It gives him that instinctive feeling that he’s going to perform.’ It’s absolutely function following form. Aesthetics is a functional attribute which creates performance.
That point of difference in treating a tailoring brand as a performance for business is a novel approach and one which Michael Jacobs sought from the start.
“I had an idea that I wanted to create something unique and different but I couldn’t find the partner who was able to provide that. I was searching the internet for clues and leads. I found Bob’s thoughts on his website, and I thought I’d found someone who understands what I’m looking for.”
“The emotional connection to the customer instead of stopping at the product, that’d what I felt was important. It was about looking into the archetypes. That’s where we found Athena which provided a platform on which we could build all the other elements.
“Athena is the Queen who empowers the warriors. She’s the one who nurtures them, gives them their skills and weapons, but then detaches herself and says ‘go and fulfil your potential,’ so it’s the mentor archetype and this is the relationship between the brand and consumer.”
Conceptually then, all seems to be in place, but how that informs their branding and logo could have been tricky. With sports performance brands the aesthetic is different and perhaps lends itself more to logos and a set look. With a more tailored, formal feel, the challenge to create visual branding is different. Bob explains how. “The name is Valor, which is about reaching your potential by behaving in the right way and doing it for the right reasons. If you take something as prosaic as a tie. The tie was created by the Croats for war, which is where the word Cravat comes from. It was a symbol of war. It is absolutely part of the suit of armour. The suit is the suit of armour, the shop is the armoury, the brand is Athena equipping the 21st century warrior to achieve his goals.”
Michael is keen to make sure the concept behind the brand is prevalent in every piece of communication, whether verbal, vision or in terms of shopping experience. To this end, he refers to his store as a 21st century armoury.
“If you want to make a difference you’ve got to show that you mean business. We’re looking on average at around 400sqm. We can build a store with no stock, which means we have a blank canvas. We can create the perfect 21st century shopping experience for the 21st century warrior. That’s how the armoury idea came in. It’s a one shopping places where he can find all the necessary tools for him to achieve his goals.”
As with all brands the next step is to communicate the vision which was born in development and convey it to the right people. Again, Bob looks to sports performance for his theory.
“The interesting thing for me was taking the example of a performance brand and applying tried and tested techniques to a tailoring brand. If you were a tennis brand you’d sign Roger Federer and you’d shoot him playing tennis, and he would be winning championships and you’d use that material to deliver the brand. If you take that example you have to find who your Roger Federer is but in the business world. You have to show them winning using your tools. If you’d normally take a picture of a sportsman in a stadium or tennis court, you’ve got to translate that to the business world, so it’d be the boardroom. You’re using exactly the same mechanics as you would in a performance brand but applying it to business. That’s where it gets interesting.”
Finally Bob explains that winning isn’t everything: “However the key point is that this is not about winning for its own sake, it’s about winning beautifully. Not just winning to win. Valor is about winning in style and winning for the life it unlocks.”