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How to create a luxury brand identity. No theory, just actionable advice.

Standing out in any market is difficult but it takes even more skill to create a luxury brand identity that speaks to the typically, highly educated, ultra wealthy audience you are seeking to attract and get them to part with their money.

Just like luxury products, a lot of time, energy, craft and thought usually goes into creating some of the finest things money can buy. It’s the same with your brand identity, you can’t expect to attract people wanting the best with a sub par brand. They see right through it.

Anything exceptional takes time and that means you need a budget to match your aspirations.

After 11 years of creating brand identities for businesses, buildings, events, pop-ups, you name it, we have developed a pretty robust process we walk each and every client through and that’s how we can guarantee the result.

Here’s how it looks.

Research the market

Before any design even takes place, the first task is to research the market, understand who you are competing against and get an idea of how you can differentiate from them. In this stage of the project, we look at potential future competition too.

For instance, we worked with a renowned interior designer. We considered their immediate short-term competition but also who they are likely to come up against on a global stage as they build a reputation.

Create moodboards

The size and scope of the project will dictate the amount of moodboards we create. At a minimum we will create one for the logo, one for print and one for web to build a full picture of how the identity will be used.

For larger projects, we often create one for illustration, photography and iconography to get ideas for possible future directions.

This creates a discussion point to determine if we understand possible future directions they want to take the brand. Is it minimal, is it based around a certain concept, does it mix two different styles. As an example, we are working with a luxury marketplace and we are mixing modern luxury with a web3 style to attract a certain type of early adopter who will use the platform and will be happy to buy in a VR experience.

Generate ideas quickly

I have seen time and time again, beautifully crafted proposals superimposed onto the most beautiful mockups only for it to be met with client disapproval as it was the first time they were seeing the work.

Design is not a pick which version you like at the end process. It’s a collaborative process where we are trying to create something the founders love so they are proud to go out and talk about, the target audience responds to and trust that you can deliver what you say combined with something that meets an agency's standards of output to build their reputation. It’s not easy and needs plenty of input and debate.

Whoever you chose to create your identity, our high-end branding agency believes you need to be advised and led, not told what to do. This is sometimes more commonly known as a client telling the agency what they want. Similar to a luxury brand strategy, you need someone to act as a consultant to articulate and align you on your vision.

Develop, develop, develop

Once you have ideas that resonate, the next stage is merging or developing the good and removing the not so good. Identities evolve, like anything, whether it’s a piece of writing or art, you just need to start and then work from there. Try new things and keep referencing what inspired those ideas in the first place and through exploration, new ideas spark and develop.

Sometimes you hit on the perfect design quickly, sometimes it takes a little longer. It’s why we don’t work with a set number of amends, it’s priced higher to allow for this exploration phase but it’s priced on the result not the number of steps it took to get to that result.

It’s why we can be so confident in offering a guarantee that you walk away with an identity you are happy with, as we keep going until you are.

Finalise the brand identity

The development stage always considers how the brand will look across print, web and as a standalone identity. Only once we have tweaked and checked it works on a social icon all the way through to a billboard do we start to finalise the assets.

This can be refining the typography to ensure the icon is pixel perfect down to adjusting colours so it pairs perfectly with the right kind of paper which becomes your brand paper to get the perfect look every single time.

Create brand guidelines

From a startup to an established business, we always create luxury brand guidelines for each client. On the lower end, it could be as simple as the logo, typography and colour breakdown. For businesses £1m+, this will get much more in depth about how to use the identity, detailing paper stocks, illustration style, art direction.

Sometimes it’s for global brands like Westfield where we produced guidelines for campaigns to be rolled out across the world. Detailing exact layout guides, how big margins should be, the size of the logo, which font to use and what weight down to the letter spacing and line height (leading).

So what does it take to create a luxury brand identity?

Rather than give you a generic article on how to create a luxury brand that is so conceptual you are still scratching your head on how to start, we hope this breaks down the steps you need to take to start creating or rebranding yours.

Creating an identity that is designed to speak to some of the most affluent members of society is no easy feat. It needs to look elegant but well differentiated from your competition. It needs to look like it could be timeless as you don’t want to change your identity again in a hurry.

It needs to be good enough for customers to trust you. It’s a real mix of research, strategy, insight and creativity rolled into one.

And remember if it looks simple, it probably wasn’t simple to create.

That’s why successful brands leave it to the professionals.

Can you create our brand identity?

It’s what we specialise in. We have designed a process that can be adapted for startups, established (£1-5m) and global brands.

We have experience working with unknowns all the way to the renowned such as Cartier, Porsche, Westfield & F1.

We understand a luxury audience and we understand brand. For further reading, you can have a look our luxury branding article to learn from the best and give you ideas on how to stand out.

So if you are a business in luxury, have creativity at the core of your business, get in touch and we can talk you through how to get started.

This article is written by Alex Colley, Creative Director of ikon | We are a boutique branding & creative agency – but not in the traditional sense. We hand-pick a team from our experienced creatives to suit each project, delivering a personal and bespoke service. Alex is always the lead contact every step of the way and our clients include the likes of Cartier, Westfield, Porsche, & F1.

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