Lacoste Logo – The Nickname That Became A Brand
French tennis legend René Lacoste was The Alligator long before that highly-recognised logo started to appear on clothing. In fact, I’m a bit ahead of myself here. Let’s back up a little. The year was 1923. Lacoste was already turning heads in the tennis world who noticed that this young player had a great deal of talent. It was following a Davis Cup match in Boston where the talent took a back seat to something far less interesting.
A crocodile suitcase became the object of a bet between Lacoste and his coach. It took an American journalist who knew the story to tag Lacoste with the nickname of The Alligator. It stuck and continued to play subliminally alongside Lacoste’s tennis career. It wasn’t until 1927 when the crocodile logo came to life at the hands of artist Robert George.
There had to be something behind that crocodile logo as it propelled Lacoste to several victories up to 1929. In fact, as the Roarin’ Twenties were coming to a close, Lacoste had amassed a series of Grand Slam victories including 5 French Internationals, 3 Wimbledon wins and 2 US Championships. Lacoste was also dominating international rankings.
A Decade After The Alligator Nickname
In 1933 Lacoste launched his first advertising campaign to promote his newly created brand of clothing. The polo shirts featured the Robert George crocodile logo which has since become an icon synonymous with elegance, style and class.
Everything Looks Better In Colour
In 1951 Lacoste released monochromatic polo shirts as well as striped polos which expanded the reach of the brand but what really pushed the brand into other areas was something that happened in 1958. That was when Lacoste introduced their children’s collection. Now you could dress the entire family in polos with a crocodile logo.
There’s More To This Racket
You could call Lacoste a serial inventor because throughout the 1960s he filed many patents. His focus was on the game he loved and several of his innovations influenced the play of tennis. It was also during this decade that Lacoste was the brand that was worn by the French Ski Team. Oh, and the brand extended into perfume and leather goods, too.
More And More Brand Awareness
Advertising campaigns started to show up in French in the 1970s to celebrate the brand’s heritage. The following decade saw more products come under the Lacoste umbrella including sunglasses and tennis shoes. Both of which made perfect sense to me thinking about tennis.
The LACOSTE Foundation
Tenacity and perseverance are promoted through this foundation that focuses on helping young people in venerable situations. Using the family supported sports of tennis (Rene) and golf (Rene’s wife Simone and their daughter Catherine) as tools to improve social integration.
Further to the countless humanitarian projects either spearheaded or joined by Lacoste, one that stands out to me particularly was the Save Our Species Campaign. In it Lacoste used the highly-recognised Lacoste logo location of their polo shirts to promote and support endangered critters. You can learn more about that creative project here: Save Our Species Campaign
This Crocodile Has Quite A Bite
Aside from all the innovations and changes that have taken place with the Lacoste logo, I am impressed most with the consistent message: keep moving forward or be eaten by the competition. Even if that has nothing to do with the Lacoste logo, it has become an iconic representation of quality and integrity. When your branding reaches this point, you pretty much have the world at your fingertips. It is also an example of how a nickname became a brand that has continued to stay relevant in an ever-changing world.