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“Ordinary brands communicate in order to sell products to consumers. Luxury brands communicate in order to keep the dream alive in the minds of consumers.” Adriaan Brits, Luxury Brand Marketing: The globalization of luxury brand cults
Borrow These 3 Ways Luxury Brands Master Perceptions
Luxury brands are those where the product is worth FAR more to clients than what it costs to make it. I hope that is also how you see yourself: your contribution is worth FAR more than mere years of service + education + skills. Am I right?
First, let’s review luxury brand basics. Brand equity is defined as the commercial value that derives from consumer perception of the brand name of a particular product or service, rather than from the product or service itself.
Luxury brands master perceptions.
This perception derives from the company’s confidence in its products, services and point of view.
The Forbes list of top global brands last year offers these excerpts:
|Rank||Brand||Brand Equity||Brand Sales||Ad Spend|
|1||Apple||$170.0 B||$214.2 B||$1.8 B|
|2||$101.8 B||$80.5 B||$3.9 B|
|3||Microsoft||$87 B||$85.3 B||$1.6 B|
|5||Coca-cola||$56.4 B||$23 B||$4 B|
|20||Luis Vuitton||$28.8 B||$9.9 B||$4.7 B|
|44||Hermes||$13 B||$5.5 B||$258 M|
|47||Gucci||$12.7 B||$4.7 B||n/a|
Notice the LUXURY brands have much higher brand equity (more than double!) compared to brand sales. Where does that value come from? Perception and confidence.
Even if you’re skeptical of luxury brands, you have to admit it’s pretty amazing how someone can shell out $50,000 (or more) for a wrist watch. [Patek Phillippe] Or $20 for a not very large bottle of detergent to wash sweaters. [The Laundress]
My grandmother swears that her wine tastes better when served in her Waterford goblets. If you are perceived as top-of-the-line in your profession, your career benefits.
Luxury brands don’t do focus groups.
Communication that delivers
a luxury-brand image is what gets people hired or promoted and attracts clients and romantic entanglements. The way people feel around you can add value – if that feeling energizes and/or inspires. That feeling filters their perception of you.
3 Ways to Improve Perceptions of You
1. Always speak the truth.
Not being truthful, as Volkswagen discovered, seriously damages the brand. It’s not something that can be cleared up in the short term. You may think you’ll get away with it, but it will catch you sooner or later. Be more truthful than you think you need to be.
You may know about Ethos, the Greek term that refers to being an ethical speaker, one who is trustworthy. Ethos is foundational to any effective message (and any relationship).
[For more on trust building: 5 Small Actions that Build Trust]
The key here is not being AFRAID to speak the truth. Don’t be driven by fear of offending.
2. Be bold. Have enough confidence to lead
…while keeping the conversation interesting. Be bold enough to start the conversation…even with a complete stranger.
Luxury brands have a clear mission and values: their own hero’s journey. They’re not asking for your advice too much. You know what Patagonia, The Laundress and Moleskin (just to name a few) stand for. It’s totally woven into their story (which they created.)
Be careful about asking for opinions.
3. Know what drives you.
Luxury-brand communication is confident AND clear about the destination, the purpose of the mission and why it’s important. The “why it’s important” question relates to your values. If you studied French, recall the term “raison d’etre” or the reason for being. Luxury brands also have a story that explains their why, the reason they got into business, as do successful people.
[How to include your “why” in your message: When You Need the Most Persuasive Word Ever]
Be your own luxury-brand communicator when you confidently include these in your messages.
- Your endgame, or core message, in one sentence
Example: I’m here to educate parents of middle schoolers what is really going on during their children’s screen time.
- Why it is important to the audience
Example: Most parents don’t understand how new social media platforms like SnapChat work. Everyone thinks those images disappear permanently but that’s not necessarily true.
- Why it matters to you personally
Example: I’m a neighbor to a lovely and somewhat awkward middle-schooler who routinely gets requests from her classmates to send them pictures of her breasts. And she has nowhere to go for help.
The next time you have an important message, meeting or presentation to work on, think about your favorite luxury brands and what you value in them. Then bring those qualities to your communication and it will become part of your own luxury brand.
If you want to deep dive into luxury branding, here’s Rethinking Prestige Branding: Secrets of the Ueber Brands by Wolfgang Schaefer and JP Kuehlwein.