The six essential steps to building a strong luxury brand identity

Introduction

As most of you know, branding can significantly enhance how people perceive your products.

In 2021 we worked with an un-branded ceramics business that was making around $500/month selling on Etsy. After working with our studio, their revenue rose to approximately $20,000/month. as you can see, the difference between businesses with branding and those without is enormous, but between strong brands and weak brands, there's a 20-25% increase in revenue on average. For premium and luxury brands, the difference is smaller but still brings more prestige, influence, and revenue. The goal at the highest level is to create the idea that their brand can no longer be compared to others. Quite an ambitious endeavor.

1. The Brand Concept

This is the overall idea behind the brand's creation, including its name, history, country of origin, story, key visuals, logo, colors, shapes, languages, and total offering. These elements reflect the Brand Concept and help build the idea and sense of luxury. Certain products stand out among these brands, such as Rolex watches, Hermes handbags, and Chanel tweed jackets. Some of the brands share clear prestige characteristics, like the chocolate-colored logo of Louis Vuitton or Tiffany's aquamarine blue color.

Additionally, the name is often associated with the founder, the head designer/creative, or has some tie to their country of origin. Notice that none of these luxury brands have lengthy names. Less is more. Christian Dior just became Dior, or Yves Saint Laurent became Saint Laurent. They also changed their logo to straight logotype, moving towards a more modern and minimalist sans serif style. What this is means is that their brands' visual identities evolve over time to meet current marketing challenges and cultural changes while holding true to their DNA.

A great example of this elsewhere is found in the study "The Evolution of Brand Identity: A Study of New and Old Logos" by A. Fuat Fırat and Nikhilesh Dholakia. Here, the authors aimed to explore how brand identity evolves over time through the example of two iconic logos: Pepsi and Coca-Cola. Their hypothesis was that logos might change over time, but the core essence of the brand remains the same.

To conduct their study, the authors analyzed the historical evolution of the logos and branding of Pepsi and Coca-Cola. They examined changes in the visual identity of both brands, including alterations in typography, color, and overall design. Additionally, the authors analyzed how these changes aligned with broader social, cultural, and economic shifts that occurred over the years.

The study's conclusion found that while the logos of Pepsi and Coca-Cola underwent significant changes over time, the fundamental essence of each brand remained intact. This essence was reflected in the core values and attributes associated with the brand, such as their messaging, mission statement, and overall reputation. ASs you can see, it is a common strategy utilized. And it's no secret! These are common branding strategies utilized today across all economic strata.

2. Brand Awareness

This explains who the brand truly is and how the brand is perceived by the consumers. let me ask you a question. Is an Identity how you perceive yourself? Or how the world perceives you? Which one is it?

When you're designing a logo, do you think about how pretty you think it is? Do you think about what features in a logo YOU like to see? Well the answer to this lies in another question: Are YOU your business's only customer?

So when you're creating ANYTHING for the visual consumption of society, you need to think about what THEY find attractive. What THEY will stop to look at. What THEY will find memorable. Not you. Think about your favorite luxury brand out there. Now imagine that they were personified as a person standing in front of you. What kind of feelings, personality does he or she have? This concept can be understood as brand identity. Also, this can be divided into two components. The Brand Personality and the Brand Image.

The difference is easy to understand if you imagine the brand as a person. So think about what kind of language, energy, feelings this person should convey to attract the people you are targeting as customers or clients. That is brand personality.

Now if I want to think about how I'm going to emulate my personality...how to manifest the internal into the external...that's what the visuals are. So now you understand that the Brand personality stems from the Brand itself and brand image stems from the consumer's perspective. So the goal here is for brands to convince the world that they are indeed a luxury brand by showing heritage, authenticity, or craftsmanship. So here its important o have a clear and consistent brand identity, so consumers aren't confused about who you are.

|   Is an Identity how you perceive yourself? Or how the world perceives you?

4. Brand Positioning

I would say this is a bit tricky for luxury brands because as previously mentioned, luxury brands do NOT have normal positioning strategies like normal or premium brands do. This is because they want to prevent themselves from ever being compared to another brand, even within their tier. I would say positioning is more important for premium and luxury brands so that they can strive to find their unique selling points to their consumers. Also luxury brands need to stick to their Brand values to remain unique. They need BOLD statements to illustrate that "THIS is WHO I AM".

There was a really cool study published in the Journal of Business Research by Jungkeun Kim and Jaihak Chung examined the positioning strategies of luxury fashion brands. The authors found that luxury brands tend to use more abstract and symbolic positioning strategies, such as associating the brand with certain values or cultural icons, rather than relying on functional or rational positioning. This backs the idea that luxury brands do not have traditional positioning strategies like other brands, as they focus more on creating a unique and aspirational image rather than simply promoting specific features or benefits.

5. Brand Loyalty

I would say most of these brands have a metric f$%! ton of loyal customers, and the reason they have it is because of the emotional bond between consumers and brands. Consumers use these goods to communicate with others. The bags they use, clothes they wear, these are the symbols they use to show others the person that they are, or ASPIRE to be, as we discussed earlier. And at this point, their luxury goods have become a communication tool. The most effective form of marketing.

Overtime this builds equity, which is essentially the summation of the other distinctive qualities of the brand that result in the continuous demand and commitment of the customers to the brand.

It's safe to say that these luxury brands have a massive following of loyal customers, and this can be attributed to the emotional connection that consumers have with them. A Hong Kong 368-luxury consumer study published in the Journal of Consumer Marketing found that luxury brands are successful in building emotional bonds with their customers, which translates to customer loyalty. Consumers use these luxury goods as symbols to express their personality and status to others, and this is what creates the emotional connection with the brand.

Source: "The impact of brand love on brand personality and brand loyalty: a conceptual framework and empirical study." - Chee Hong Cheong, Xiongfei Cao, and Wei Liu. 2016.

6. Brand Value

This is the culmination of it all. This is the result of the success and failure of the brand and is generated at the end of the brand formulating process. This is why everything needs to be solid up until this point. But what's the difference between brand equity and brand value? Brand equity is based on the consumer's psychological indicators while brand value is the translation of this equity to financial gains for the brand.