- Remember your roots
Strong brands come from people, places and times, and they remember it whether they are luxury brands or not. Brands too often forget about or ignore their origins, and marketers in the English-speaking world are the guiltiest of it. For example, when Starbucks lost its way, the real problem was that it forgot its origins. It took former chief executive Howard Schultz to return to the company and help rediscover its roots. All brands have a story of their founding: it describes why the business came into being. Most marketers don’t know how powerful theirs is.
- Work out what’s in your brand’s DNA
A brand’s DNA should comprise just one strong concept and no more than five words that define how it behaves. In luxury it is defined by history and the consumer has no say in it. But brand DNA is about walking the walk, not talking the talk, and it isn’t necessary to communicate explicitly what it’s made up of. People find George Clooney sexy for what he says and does, and for the way he looks, not because of the structure of his genes. Brands that have their words hanging up in the lobby are missing the point. If a consumer doesn’t repeat those things back to you verbatim, it’s not a problem.
- You can play with your codes
Codes are what make brands recognizable to their consumers – they are not just logos and they are not just visual, but they are motifs that the brand unmistakably owns, however they appear. Brands need to recognize that they can and must play with their codes to balance heritage with modernity – the constantly changing Google ‘doodle’ on the search engine’s homepage being one example.
This also means brands shouldn’t submit to “logo tyranny”, where marketers think the same typefaces, colors and proportions have to be rigidly repeated. This is not branding. This is what people do when they don’t understand branding.
- Brands need to change to stay consistent
This is the “paradox of time”. Brands make their name through the way they act at a particular point in time, but doing the same thing again and again will cease to have the same effect. The Dior fashion style that was provocative in 1950 had become tired by 2000, and it took John Galliano’s shocking ‘hobo chic’ collection, with dresses inspired by homeless people wrapped in newspapers, to restore Dior’s reputation as a disruptive brand.
- No one hates vanilla, but no one loves it either
Being exclusive means excluding some people and welcoming others, and it is an important part of creating a brand. In luxury it means you can engender passion in the higher segments and not care about the mass market as a whole. While non-luxury brands can’t afford to be as selective, the principle holds true for all marketing. You have to believe first in segmentation and second in targeting. You can’t have a brand if you try to appeal to everyone. Marketing is not democracy.
- Consumers don’t care what marketers say
At the most successful brands, senior executives stay silent, and don’t try to push their messages through mass media. Consumers want to hear from the artisan, let the creators closest to the product explain their enthusiasm for it.
- Your premium products power your brand
At a luxury brand, it is the couture fashions, the catwalk clothes that define its image, like the star on the top of a Christmas tree. They are also the products that almost no one buys, and overall they lose money. Marketers need to ask one question about their product lines: “What is the reason behind the product? Some products are there to generate profit, others are there to build the brand.
Source: Mark Ritson’s-seven rules