You may think that luxury goods have little—or nothing—to do with you, but you may want to think again. Designers, copywriters and marketers can learn valuable marketing lessons by scrutinizing the ways in which luxury brands skillfully engage their customers and distinguish their products in the marketplace.
Pay Attention to Visuals
Luxury brands are laser-focused on creating the perfect appearance and aura to connect with their discerning customers. That’s why they pay such close attention to getting their brand colors, design, typography, and tone of voice absolutely pitch perfect. By applying a coherent, unified brand look across all consumer interactions, they’re able to position their brands as both desirable and aspirational.
These brands have also been on the cutting edge of using visuals in new ways. For example, luxury brands were the first to use long-form videos successfully, breaking through the constraints of print and 30-second TV advertising. In 2001, BMW created a series of eight long-form videos, hiring famous directors to produce 10-minute films featuring Madonna and other A-list stars — and, of course, BMWs. More recently, luxury startup Hanley Mellon produced a three-minute video to introduce itself to customers by showing the behind-the-scene inspirations for its new collection.
When you think of luxury goods, some of the first images that pop into your head are a menagerie of logos. From Rolex’s five-pointed crown to Jaguar’s, yes, jaguar, logos are integral to a luxury brand’s appeal and cachet.
But many of the savviest luxury brands use a broader set of interconnected visual images to connect with consumers. When you think of Chanel, sure, you quickly picture the overlapping-Cs logo. But other powerful symbols also come to mind: the little black dress, the Chanel suit, the number 5, that 3-hour lunch at Chez Denise (well, maybe that last one is just me). This type of imagery penetrates deeply into the unconscious minds of consumers, and any company can adopt a set of unified symbols to build their brand.
Build a Microsite
Luxury brands were among the first to deploy microsites — websites separate from the company homepage — to anchor their branded campaigns. For example, Burberry’s Art of the Trench microsite encourages users to submit photos of themselves in their favorite Burberry trench coat, and its Acoustic microsite presents videos featuring emerging British musicians performing while wearing the latest Burberry clothing.
Nonluxury brands have followed suit. Prudential’s Bring Your Challenges microsite features interactive content related to the financial needs of average-income families. Designing and creating content for your own targeted microsite will help you connect with your brand’s prospects and customers.
Unlike luxury brands, you probably can’t afford to outfit Gwyneth Paltrow or pay Harry Styles to build awareness for your product, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider cultivating brand ambassadors who are a good fit for your brand. Influencers are becoming more instrumental in social marketing outside the luxury category because they bring brand stories and creative campaigns to life.
No matter your industry, influencers build trust, particularly in niche markets. Consumers have confidence in recommendations made by reliable third parties, so leveraging the power of influencers will give your brand a competitive edge.
Pull Rather Than Push
Most brands have a good sense of who their customers are and use marketing to push their products to them. Luxury brands have turned this business model on its head. They pull customers to their product by offering them the allure of being part of an exclusive community.
Some brands have taken the pull approach a step further. For example, if you want to buy a Hermés Birkin bag, you can’t just saunter into a Hermés store and hand them your platinum card. Hermés restricts purchases to it most loyal customers (at least that’s the official story), rewarding them with the exclusive opportunity to purchase these bags.
Consider how to use visuals, symbols, content, influencers and exclusivity to pull customers toward your brand.