What is a product? Something people need. It fulfils a function. What is a brand? Something people want. They desire it. Why do people buy a Rolex that looks very similar to a Sekonda, is made of similar materials, but is 100 times the price? Because they want it. A brand is very much like a person. I may like you not because of the clothes you wear or the car you drive, but for your personality, your essence, what makes you, you. You need to speak directly to the people that your brand appeals to.In a world of thousands upon thousands of luxury brands, my job is simple: to make people want what you sell.
The first step in defining a luxury brand is about looking at the competition - or brands a customer would consider when making a decision. Who do you think they are? Who does Google say they are? And most importantly - who do your potential customers think they are? We need to look at each of your main competitors and understand why their customers buy from them. Information like this is key to a strong competitive advantage.
Brand benefits come in two forms: psychological benefits and functional. Let's use a fine jewellery brand as an example: a customer may buy from them because it makes them feel good to own a beautiful piece of luxury jewellery (psychological). But they may also buy because the jewellery is an investment and something they can hand down to their children (functional). This can be summed up in the line: 'I buy from XYZ because...'
Many luxury businesses go about defining their target customers with a broad brush - i.e. woman, 35-55, wealthy, etc. The problem with this approach is that it describes a lot of different people and dilutes your brand message. The key is to be specific - to have a laser focus on (ideally) just one individual. When you direct your message to just one person, you will turn them into a raving fan which will attract others in their circle of influence.
Just like a person, a luxury brand has a personality. BMW Group is a great example of different brand personalities. Mini is fun, cute and quirky, BMW is cool and smart, Rolls Royce is powerful and statesmanlike. My job is to identify your brand's personality so that it's behaviour fits with it's characteristics. Brand values are also a key part of the mix - what your brand stands for and what it believes in. Sustainability is a good example of this.
Step three is about gaining insight from consumers. This normally involved interviewing various groups of people about your brand. These groups are: 1. people who have bought from you, 2. people who did not buy from you, and 3. people who have never bought from you. We need to ask questions like: why did they buy / didn't buy from you? What are the emotions they feel when they think about your brand? Who (in their mind) is the market leader?
The final step is what I call your point of difference, also known as your USP (unique selling point / position / proposition) or discriminator. This is the thing (or things) that is / are totally unique to your brand. This proposition can be based on anything, i.e. location (the only 5 star hotel in XYX town), or niche (a luxury holiday company focused on children). This can mostly be captured in the sentence: ‘Only XYZ brand gives you…’