When you think of luxury, brands like Chanel, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, and Gucci immediately come to mind. These brands have built their reputation on being the height of luxury; the pinnacle of style, quality, and sophistication.
Their logos are iconic, their products are coveted, and their prices are sky-high. Wearing one of these brands is a status symbol – it tells the world that you have taste, style, and money.
But what exactly is it that makes these brands so special? Why is Chanel more desirable than H&M, Rolex more than Timex, and Gucci more than Gap? Why do people wait months, even years, to get their hands on a Birkin bag or a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes?
In this article, we'll explore what makes a brand luxury. We'll look at five key features that are essential to any luxury brand, and see how the world's most famous luxury brands measure up.
Luxury can be difficult to define. Consumers define luxury in different ways. For some, it's all about the price tag; only products that cost a fortune can be considered luxury. For others, luxury is about quality and craftsmanship; it's the difference between a mass-produced item and a work of art. And for others still, luxury is about exclusivity and rarity; it's something that's hard to find and even harder to get your hands on.
No matter how you define it, one thing is certain: luxury is always about desirability. Luxury brands are the most desirable brands in the world. They're the brands that people want to be seen wearing, the brands that people save up for, and the brands that people dream about.
There are many different factors that contribute to a brand's desirability, but five key features stand out as being essential to any luxury brand.
Luxury brands are synonymous with quality and craftsmanship. Their products are made with the finest materials and attention to detail, ensuring that they're built to last. This commitment to quality can be seen in everything from the way Hermés hand-stitches its leather goods to the way Cartier hand-cuts its diamonds.
Luxury brands also tend to work with the best artisans and craftsmen in their respective fields, ensuring that their luxury products are made to the highest possible standard. They take a great deal of pride in their workmanship, and it shows.
In an age of fast fashion and disposable style, luxury brands offer a refreshing alternative. They're a reminder that not all products are created equal; that some things are worth investing in and treasuring for a lifetime.
Successful luxury brands are built on a foundation of history and heritage. They have a story to tell, and that story is an important part of what makes them so special.
Some stories centre around an extraordinary founder. Hermés' story, for example, is based on the enigma of its founder Thierry Hermés, who was a French harness-maker who started out making saddles for Empress Eugénie. Cartier's began with a jeweller named Louis-François Cartier, who made a name for himself by creating exquisite pieces for European royalty.
Other times, their allure is drawn from a long line of iconic products. Gucci’s ‘Horsebit’ loafers, for example, were first designed in the 1950s and have been a bestseller ever since. Chanel’s quilted handbags also date back to the 1950s, when they were designed by Coco Chanel herself. And Cartier’s ‘Love Bracelet’ was first introduced in the 1970s and has remained one of the brand’s most popular items, thanks to its sleek, minimalist design.
These stories have been retold and embellished over time to become part of luxury lore. They've become the stuff of legend, giving the brands a sense of gravitas and authority.
New luxury brands, on the other hand, don't have the benefit of a long history. But that doesn't mean they can't create their own stories and heritage. Brands like Supreme, for example, have built their reputations on being at the forefront of streetwear culture. Their story is one of cool, edgy, and rebellious; a story that has resonated with young people all over the world.
That said, all luxury brands have a story to tell, even if they don't have a long history and a rich heritage. A luxury branding agency – such as ikon – can help you to craft your brand story and brand positioning and make sure it's an integral part of your luxury brand identity.
Luxury brands are known for providing an exceptional level of service. They go above and beyond to make sure their customers have the best possible experience, and they always go the extra mile to exceed expectations.
Part of what makes luxury service so special is the personal touch. Luxury brands make their customers feel like VIPs, and they treat them accordingly. This might mean providing complimentary services, like personal shoppers or stylists. It might mean offering free shipping and returns. Or it might mean providing concierge services, like booking tickets or making restaurant reservations. Whatever form it takes, superior service is one of the defining features of luxury brands.
Luxury brands also have a reputation for being extremely responsive to their customers. They're quick to address any concerns or issues, and they're always available to assist. This level of customer service is one of the things that sets luxury brands apart from their mass-market counterparts.
Luxury brands are exclusive. They’re not available to everyone, and they’re not easy to get your hands on. This exclusivity is often created through limited availability – luxury brands will release a small number of products each season, ensuring that demand always outweighs supply. Hermès, for instance, only produces about 12,000 Birkin bags each year, making them some of the most coveted items in the world.
Another way that luxury brands create exclusivity is through high price points. By definition, luxury goods are expensive – they’re the most costly products on the market. This high cost acts as a barrier to entry, deterring all but the most wealthy and discerning customers.
Luxury brands also create exclusivity through elitism. They’re often seen as being for a certain type of person – usually wealthy, successful people who are part of the upper echelons of society. Luxury brands carefully cultivate this perception, who often use celebrity endorsements and high-profile ambassadors to reinforce the idea that their products are only for a certain type of person.
All of this serves to create an aura of exclusivity, which only adds to their appeal.
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Many luxury brands are built on symbolic value. They're not just about the products they sell, they're about the values and ideas that they represent. They are aspirational. They represent a certain lifestyle and set of ideals.
For example, brands like Rolls-Royce and Bentley represent the very best in British luxury. They're synonymous with wealth, power, and prestige. And brands like Hermés and Louis Vuitton are associated with French luxury. They're symbols of refinement and elegance -- the new luxury consumer values.
That said, people don't just buy luxury items because they like the products, they buy them because they want to be associated with the values that the brands represent. And that's why many luxury consumers are willing to spend a fortune on luxury purchases.
Values are an important part of any brand and how they market luxury. To create a luxury brand, it's essential that you identify the values that you want your brand to represent. Once you've done that, you need to make sure that those values are communicated through every aspect of your brand identity and marketing strategy, from your logo and packaging to your advertising and marketing.
Standing out in today’s competitive marketplace is no easy feat. But with the help of ikon, you can give your brand the edge it needs to succeed.
Our luxury creative agency can help your brand stand out from the rest. We can also help you communicate your brand story in a way that resonates with your target audience. And we have the experience and expertise to back it up – we’ve worked with some of the world’s most prestigious brands such as Cartier, Westfield, Porsche & F1.
If you’re ready to elevate your brand and take it to the next level, ikon is here to help. Get in touch with us today to learn more about what we can do for you.