Luxury Branding Explained
In all our workshops and presentations, we at Black Ink are constantly preaching about how “Branding = Differentiation”. However, luxury brands are fundamentally different from mass-market brands, not only at the conceptual level (where rare = valuable) but also in terms of culture, attitude, image, style, beliefs, perspectives, general character and of course, target audiences.
When customers interact with one or more elements of a brand, that experience results in specific sensations, emotions and impressions that establish an associated memory of that brand.
People don’t remember what you did, they remember how you made them feel.Maya Angelou
So luxury companies adopt a very specific approach to brand management: When it comes to luxury, experience is everything.
Differentiation is not enough.
Your brand needs to go beyond just standing out from the crowd, it must deliver a carefully-designed and well-thought-of customer experience, not only across your main channels (in-store, social media etc.) but far above and beyond customer expectations. And luxury brands know this all too well – they understand that spending money on customer experiences is a far better investment than mass marketing. A billboard or magazine ad will never achieve the same result as an in-store or product experience.
Consider this: Have you ever actually seen a Ferrari advert? Exactly.
Ferrari prefers to spend its marketing budget to associate its brand with F1 and luxury motor races where it directly interacts with its fans. Ferrari proved this strategy by designing the ultimate brand experience and investing billions creating Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, inclusive of the world’s fastest roller coaster.
As Christian Louboutin says, “Luxury means staying very close to your customers, and doing things you know they will love.” His fellow shoe-extraordinaire Jimmy Choo did just that when he invited his top clientele to a delightful high tea at Hong Kong’s Landmark Oriental Hotel, featuring high-end sandwiches, scones and macaroons handcrafted in exquisite shoe and handbag shapes.
In 2014, fashion giant Prada designed “The Pradasphere” at London’s Harrods, a dramatic café and exhibition space, yet the space wasn’t used to sell product (none were even featured!). Instead, Prada decided to use for “sharing inspiration”, featuring art, film, photography and other creative works that were in line with Prada’s vision and style.
Another example is how super-luxury car Bentley designed a hotel suite at the St. Regis in New York, where the interior’s leather, colors, lighting and even scents mimicked the special cocooning customers feel when they sit inside a Bentley – a true Bentley experience without the actual car!
Marketing Nirvana – Finding Harmony, Balance and Connectedness in Your Brand
Your premium brand needs to be a holistic, layered, integrated and highly-orchestrated experience. Everything you do will directly influence your customer’s impression and experience of you – dictating whether they will like you, talk about you, be proud to show your products off and be a loyal, lifelong customer.
In order to ensure consistency in your brand’s touch points (photography, packaging, website, shopping bags, social media, customer service etc.), a brand strategy can act as your blueprint, bible, constitution and operating manual all in one – if created correctly and delivered efficiently to all 3rdparties.
So if you are a graphic designer, photographer, shop decorator, uniform tailor, packaging producer etc., follow your “Brand Blueprint”, and you can be sure that no matter where in the world they are, or for which audience they are catering to, your brand will always be consistent in its message, style and impression, establishing not only recognition but also trust, legitimacy and recognition for your brand.