Does Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis' leather jacket make him a hell-raiser, protector or just a fading rocker? Either way, he's going to have to be a tough guy

Andrew Mulholland
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Edgy? Varoufakis sported a leather trench to meet Chancellor George Osborne (Source: Getty)

The Holy Grail for most brand managers is to create a powerful identity icon, a shorthand which cuts to the heart of their offer.

There are a number of options open to the budding marketer, but the standard fare breaks down into three options, visual – like the Nike tick; verbal – like Audi’s ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’, or aural – like McDonalds' sonic-mnemonic. Ultimately, of course, it’s irrelevant what the device is, so long as it captures the essence of the brand.
In Nike’s case the tick (or "swoosh", depending on the cut of your jib) radiates positivity and ‘can do’ spirit. Audi’s classic line imbued the brand with much-needed design/quality credentials (at the time most people didn’t know what it meant, it was simply enough to hear Geoffrey Palmer’s distinctive voice utter the words. Like glue, they stuck). And of course, McDonalds' five note anthem, “Ba da ba ba ba” invites the audience to subconsciously complete the line with “I’m loving it”, irrespective of whether you do or don’t (I’ve actually read blogs which believe it’s a secret hypnotic tone or a satanic chant).
Whatever your view, it’s powerful stuff. So it should come as no surprise that switched-on politicians also have their icons, Churchill had his cigars (power/control), Margaret Thatcher had her blue handbag (no-nonsense authority), and even Michael Grade had his red braces and socks (danger/flair).

Winston Churchill's cigar became a symbol of power and control (Source: Getty)

So what are we to make of the Greek Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis’ leather jacket? As anyone who knows me is aware, my grasp of fashion is shaky at best - but to my mind the last time a leather jacket looked good on a grown man (sorry Mr Clarkson), was when Terry McCann sported one while being Arthur Daley’s minder - I think Suzi Quatro had it right when she said: “When punk picked-up black leather, I put it down”.
And the connection is no coincidence; leather jackets are worn by tough guys, people who are a bit "handy" (or at least want to give that impression). Just look at Vladimir Putin, or even George Bush.
The big question, of course, is which side is Mr Varoufakis fighting for (his rationale that he’s always worn leather jackets cuts no ice with me, I’ve always worn pyjamas but wouldn’t meet most clients wearing them)? Is he a hell-raiser, a protector, or just a fading rocker? I guess that we’ll all see in very short time, but either way, the subliminal signal is clear, Mr Varoufakis is a tough guy, and you can’t help but feel he’s going to have be.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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