THE NEW LUXURY – how to build a premium brand experience
It’s NOT all about money
Premium has traditionally meant something expensive, precious, ornate. But recently the meaning has changed: when we say premium, we mean something surprising, that evokes emotions, that delights. It has to be unique, rare, offer some kind of an unusual experience, and tell a story. To be premium, it is not enough to add a few details in design (such as gold foil, refinements), you need to know your consumer and target group and create something selected just for them. Dig into his musical culture, his culinary preferences, get to know his real face. A premium brand must be able to experiment, introduce new cultural codes, and play with convention.
Premium is also a declaration of “more for more” – greater functionality and quality of workmanship, better material for which we are willing to pay more. Luxury brands do not justify the price only with quality, it is also explained by emotional impressions surrounding the product as well as the history and status of the producer. A premium brand is created through innovation and better technological solutions, its offer is a promise of greater opportunities. It takes a lot of time and creativity to build a perfect brand image. Today, in an intensely virtualized reality, one of the most intensively exploited “raw materials” is creative thinking and concept, it is a great time for creators, because achieving the premium status doesn’t necessarily involve a large fortune.
Every brand wants to become premium – it’s refreshing for the creative industry, branding agencies can let their imagination run wild and come up with unusual ideas, sky’s the limit.
Christian Louboutin display
Building a premium experience is all about quality. It often results from a creative process that gives a sense of uniqueness – manual production from high-quality material is worth a higher price than mass production. This creates a sense of exclusivity, which we associate more with luxury brands. This is the case with Rolls-Royce cars, assembled by hand from the highest quality materials – it is a work of art with an additional mobility (car) function. Also in the case of shop displays and installations, approaching the luxury experience is all about being unique.
Bvlgari store in Tokio
A prestigious misalliance
The Rolls Royce Wraith ‘Inspired by British Music’ series shows how to raise the level of luxury in a product that’s the brand’s symbol, in an exceptionally bold way. The inspiration came from legendary British bands, the brand worked with their members to create all the products. These are not only details relating to the music album graphics and texts, but also painting parts of the cars. That way a car, which is already luxurious by nature, has become unique by combining the dignified form of the car with a reference to the rebellious music of young people.
Luxury fashion brand Gucci followed a similar path, writing its logo with letters resembling letters written by a child, or Louis Vuitton with a collection produced in cooperation with the Supreme brand.
Such ideas are a bold mismatch of elegance with the lower-class, more popular art, but they can be extremely successful. Both Gucci and Louis Vuitton are not afraid that they will no longer be perceived as luxury brands, the concept emphasizes their uniqueness and says: “With our position, we can afford it”. However, the core is the ingenious playing with convention, and you can do it even if you are not an iconic luxury brand.
“People like us buy things like that”
Proper definition of the target recipient, and adjusting the brand story to their needs create a bond. A bond that is more than just a buying and selling relationship, it is creating a community that identifies itself with the products. An example can be the American muscle cars, which are associated with fair quality at a decent price – but they are not premium brands, they are far from luxury. And yet their power, potential and the image of cars for people who appreciate bold experiences give a sense of prestige and luxury.
Apple creates a similar bond, although in a completely different way. Its products marked “pro” suggest that the owner belongs to the group of creators or specialists who require the most efficient equipment. The element of identification with a given group is something more than higher quality for a higher price, it goes beyond utility value.
Inside joke is exclusive
The communication language has the power to connect, but also to exclude. Yoga lovers can communicate using Sanskrit asana names, but they also usually have a similar system of habits and beliefs (e.g. eating healthy food), so they can create a set of concepts, a special language understandable only to them. This allows a personalization for a yoga brand that goes beyond the superficial aspects, it is a conversation about passion. A well-matched message targeted at your customers indicates knowledge and education, and that’s always convincing.
An example can be “tattooing” a bottle of J&B whiskey, which builds communication on the shared passion of the customer and the brand for this art of body adornment. Good customer knowledge is a premium factor – it is like asking the customer “same as usual?” in his favourite restaurant – it allows them to feel part of something bigger.
Form is a real luxury
The competition seeking customer’s attention is huge, and therefore getting his attention even for a few seconds is already a success. An unexpected form, a unique visual concept is the most important factor in making a creation feel premium. This is perfectly demonstrated in one of the Japanese Hermes stores, where a video of a woman blowing air from her cheeks makes a real fabric float in the air.
Being different, surprising and extraordinary- these are the conceptual elements that give a modern brand such amazing opportunities to build a new premium experience.