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February 21, 2024

The enduring quest for meaning in the luxury industry

(Feature image credit with thanks to: Brunello Cucinelli)

Meaning. Working with luxury brands, it’s something we think much about. But ‘meaning’ itself is under attack. We explore what that’s about, and why real meaning goes beyond clever marketing.

It's the eighth in our series of ‘Brand Matters’ for Luxury Briefing: the renowned international magazine for the luxury industry.

You can read the full text below.

In psychiatrist Viktor Frankl's famed ‘Man's Search for Meaning’ he writes that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose. His believes our primary drive in life is not pleasure, as Freud said, but the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful. 

Meaningfulness. Being involved with luxury brands; it’s something we think much about. Because an innate ‘meaningfulness’ adds meaning beyond the clever sophistry of marketing. At least some luxury brand companies have faith that ‘meaning’ is actually worthwhile. Sadly, ‘meaning’ is under attack.

Andrew Marr writes that ‘AI, conspiracy theories and a paranoid appetite for fake news offer the illusion of power – and of meaning. He says we are living through a period in world history in which Western populations have lost their heft and security. People are scared.’ Certainly, we are seeing increasing cynicism in our public institutions.

According to the FT (Nov.23) Luxury brands are ‘slow to improve transparency’: ’Several industry names shun sustainability survey despite boards placing higher value on responsible practices

What does this mean? It means simply truth, heritage and depth should be more important. The legacy part – usually European poor craftspeople, monks or widowed wine estate holders – may be seen as either a brand burden relegated to the About Us tab at the bottom of the site. Or a brand asset depending on the reader’s/ viewer’s point of view. Communicated correctly without being grandiose, it remains one vital sign that your brand can be trusted.

We used to have proper editors (yes, mainly in the mainstream media) who did boring things like fact check, and credit proper sources. They did not throw out fake red meat to whatever tribe was required to keep their particular media ship afloat.

So, if commentators are saying we will see a new sort of politician – more forthright and assertive – to point out exaggeration and untruth, it may put a different tonal emphasis on how brands behave.

There are some ahead of game. I like the recent Patek ‘Story’ campaign. They balance humanity and humility just about right, in an unshowy way.  Eg ‘A 100 year responsibility. A story about commitment’ and ‘Only human’ a story about skill. And one small close-up visual centre page., and the President’s signature. Deliberately classic.

I like Brunello Cucinelli’s site which opens on a Kant quote: ‘Beauty is the symbol of the morally good’.  It gets better. Cucinelli’s speech to the G20 summit is quoted in full headlined: ‘Humanistic Capitalism and Human Sustainability’….

‘…my early years spent in the countryside, my life in a farming family, left the seed and then the sprout of Humanistic Capitalism and Human Sustainability in my soul. Ours, my family's, was a life in contact with nature, because nature gave us everything. Indeed, we did not even have electricity, and we worked the land with animals, and collected rainwater. There was mutual respect between us and nature, and everything was done in harmony with Creation.

I dreamed of a business to make profits ethically, with dignity, without causing suffering to people and offence to Creation, or at least as little as possible. I liked to envisage more pleasant workplaces, where one could enjoy the view outside, and I wanted people to earn a little more, because we are all thinking souls, and because we can no longer turn our backs on poverty.’

Sincere meaning – and indeed happiness to shareholders - is an alpaca and cotton cardigan costing £1850. That’s luxury branding, that is.

Easy to mock, but I come to praise not bury. Meaning is not just important politically, it’s also cultural and psychological. Of course, marketers have to understand how to influence human behaviour, and connect with them based on who their customers really are. Hence planning, data analysis, quant ‘n qual….a veritable industry trying to gain truth, insight and in this increasingly fractured world, meaning.

Everyone talks about change.  But in a counter-intuitive way, luxury brand marketers must be concerned with what is unchanging – there are still universal meanings, motivations and compulsions that drive the luxury consumer.

Humanity hasn’t changed such a lot there. Some constants remain. If the history of luxury teaches us anything, it is its ability to adapt. The rich will still like a good deal. People will still want to party. That bigger house on the hill is still aspirational. The need for applause never goes away…

Status, display/’brag’ value, pride, belonging, identity, vanity, being of value, of being loved, of self-love. Social media has encouraged these behavioural aspects. Luxury taps into the innate desire we all have to believe in something real. It’s a responsibility to people.

As Father John Misty puts in Pure Comedy: ‘I hate to say it, but each other's all we got’

Read more from our Brand Matters series:

  • The enduring importance of craftsmanship here
  • Why craftsmanship's vulnerability will win in the tech world here.
  • Creativity: From Origins to AI here
  • Luxury is ageing gracefully here
  • Thinking luxuriously here
  • How distance creates desire here
  • Why the pursuit of authenticity paramount for luxury brands here

A little more on Anew - a London-based luxury branding Agency

Anew’s two founders deliver: insights from market research, strategic brand thinking, new brand names, luxury logo design, messaging, online and offline content, coffee table books and luxury brand websites. We help companies increase brand profitability through sharper insights, distinctive propositions, creative ideas and faultless execution.

To get in touch do drop us an email. We'd be delighted to meet for a coffee, either face-to-face or virtually to discuss your brief.

Other articles

February 5, 2024

Everything you wanted to know about trademarks but were afraid to ask

Sounds dull but it isn’t. It is a hugely important part of the brand naming process.

We are not lawyers, we are creative naming consultants, and no matter how fun or creative the name generation process might be, names must be properly protected.

Luxury brand name creation takes creative skill

 To distil a brand narrative, its elements and all the associated emotions and rationality into a single word or phrase is no small feat.  As a luxury branding agency, we know that a brand name is a hugely important part of a brand strategy.  It is a word that starts a relationship with a consumer.  At its best, a natural, authentic extension of a brand, demonstrating values, positioning and emotional connection. The subject also has a long and fine relationship with the legal profession

A noble history

(Image credit: Abe Books)

The first piece of trademark legislation was allegedly passed in England in 1266 by King Henry III. It was a set of rules known as “the Assize of Bread and Ale”, which regulated the size, weight and the price of bread as well as the purity of flour to protect consumers. Bakers had to use a distinctive sign to mark their bread, in order for regulators to identify the origins of a loaf.  And logo designers, and brand consultants didn’t even exist...

Another early example of trademark registration was in the Italian Renaissance.  “Marks and the Medici: Branding and Trademarks in Renaissance Global Business”  and the “Fourteenth-century register of the marks of metal smiths” are pioneering.

(Image credit: Cordis Europe)

Stella Artois can be traced to 1708 when Sebastian Artois bought a brewery and renamed it after himself. (Stella means “star” in Latin),

Twinings Tea was founded by Thomas Twining in 1706.

In 1891, Marcus Samuel began shipping kerosene from London to India, bringing back seashells for sale in Europe. Initially, the seashell business was so popular that it was most of the company’s profits. Samuel incorporated the name “Shell” in 1897.

And Levi Strauss & Co. Company goes back to 1837.

Founded by William Bass in 1777, Bass Ale became the first registered trademark ever issued by the British government.

Trademarking is important for many reasons:

    • It prevents others from using your name, logo, slogan, or other identifiers. This helps you maintain control over your brand image and reputation.
    • It reduces consumer confusion; trademarks help consumers easily identify the source of products and services, preventing them from being misled by imitators.
    • It builds brand trust and loyalty: Customers are more likely to trust and be loyal to brands they recognize and associate with positive experiences.
    • There are legal and financial benefits: it gives you the legal right to take action against infringement. If someone uses your trademark without permission, you can sue them for damages.
    • It increases the value of your business: A strong trademark portfolio can be a valuable asset, making your business more attractive to investors and buyers.
    • It can help you secure funding: Some lenders and investors may be more likely to provide financial support to businesses with registered trademarks.
    • It helps establish a strong online presence. A trademark can help protect domain names and social media handles. And indeed an internet domain name itself can be trademarked

Without registration, one must rely upon common laws of passing off, for any kind of protection against infringement. These are more difficult, more expensive and time-consuming, and offer much less protection for a brand owner.

 Here are some of the first questions we get asked, particularly by entrepreneurs, smaller luxury brands starting up or for companies wanting to introduce new brands into their portfolio:

What can you trademark?

Any sign which can be represented graphically is potentially registerable as a trademark. These include:

  • Words
  • Slogans
  • Designs
  • Letters
  • Numerals
  • Internet domain names
  • The shape of goods or their packaging
  • Smells (for example, Sumitomo Rubber Industries’ registration of a floral fragrance reminiscent of roses as applied to tyres).
  • Sounds (for example, the Intel four-note musical jingle).
  • Colours (for example, Heinz’s registration of the colour turquoise for use on tins of baked beans).
  • Gestures (for example, Asda has registered a double-tap on a jeans or skirt back pocket as a trademark).
  • Moving digital images (for example, the Intel “leap ahead” animated logo)

It’s worth noting also that words and symbols have to be applied for separately as distinct applications, and if a company applies for a combined word and symbol mark, they always have to be used together.

What classes you consider applying for?

There are around 45 classes – each with many sub sections. and it order to put forward an application a company has to demonstrate real intention to trade in that class. Simply put, a trademark is a Mark of Trade – an intention to trade goods or services in that class.

How long does it take for a UK registration?

The full registration is undertaken through the UK's Intellectual Property Office (The IPO). Once desk research has been completed by us and often a lawyer, and assuming there are no objections raised in the official process, it usually takes around 4 – 5 months.

How does it differ in Europe and globally

A similar process – undertaken through the EU IPO - means that a community trademark can be applied for; this covers all companies in the EU. It follows similar rules and guidance to that of the UK IPO.

Going worldwide is much more complex – with individual applications being made for each country a company wants to trade in.

When can a brand use ™ and when can it use ®?

Trademarks do not need to be registered at all, but, if they are, then the owner can benefit from a number of protections – as noted above.

If a trademark is not registered, but it is still considered a trademark unique to the owner, then this can be signified by using the ™ mark. Also, if a company is going through the trademarking process the ™ symbol can be used.

The ® means a trademark (the word, phrase, logo, or an adjacent symbol) has been registered in the UK with the IPO - specifically for the product or service it represents.

It can also only be used next to a trademark in the country it is registered in.

So if a mark is register in the UK and a business uses it, say in the EU, it would not be able to use the ® symbol until it had registered your trade mark in that region.

What’s the difference between ™ and  ℠?

Trade mark refers to goods and services, and Service mark - more often used in the USA - refers only to services. It is used on the advertising of the service rather than on the packaging or delivery of the service, since there is generally no 'package' to place the mark on, which is the practice for trademarks. It is also not registered, just like the ™

And finally – what does a © symbol mean?

A trademark is, as noted earlier – a mark of trade. Copyright refers to the right to copy and shows the world that the author of the work is claiming a right to that piece of work. Copyright mainly relates to artistic works.

Copyright in essence protects the creator against copy reproduction, reuse, performance, play etc by others.

Copyright arises automatically when a piece of work is created such as a drawing, story, picture or song and does not have to be filed in order to be used.

What should I do next?

See a trademark lawyer or intellectual property specialist to ensure you are properly protecting your brand. We can recommend some – including our friends at SGM Law with whom we work closely - if you are working with us on a project.

See us – a strategic brand naming agency - London based, who develop unique business names for luxury brands. Our brand naming portfolio is here.  A previous blog on luxury brand name generation is here

We'd be delighted to meet for a coffee, either face-to-face or virtually, to discuss any new projects you might be considering.

Please get in touch here

 Please note that the above is for general guidance only. It does not constitute formal legal advice and should not be construed as such.

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January 25, 2024

How to create coffee table books that celebrate, inspire & surprise

       “Read a lot. Expect something big, something exalting or deepening from a book…reading is an education of the heart. It enlarges your sense of human possibility, of what human nature is, of what happens in the world.”

..said Susan Sontag.

We couldn’t agree more. Books matter. They’ve always mattered.

And coffee table books - wonderful, weighty, unashamedly analogue coffee table books - are becoming increasingly popular as powerful communication tools.

Commissioning a bespoke coffee table book says much about you personally, or your company, or luxury brand. If bespoke creativity, highest quality craftsmanship, authority, impact, and history, are important to you, custom books deliver an experience like no other.

They are the perfect platform to display values and beliefs in an unforgettable format. Typically, large format and visually arresting, coffee table books’ ‘high art’ aesthetic and evocative vocabulary is a powerful addition to any luxury brand’s marketing toolbox.

We felt so passionately about it, we set up our own venture - SO Books – in conjunction with our longstanding design partners SO Creative several years ago, creating, designing, writing and printing coffee table books.

We wanted to create luxury coffee table books that elevated, that were immersive experiences, that stimulated the senses – but also the mind.

Bespoke books that were always more than corporate throwaways, sales force indulgences, or interior décor props.

Books beyond browsing

They can be many things. Yes, of course some use them as intelligence or culture signifiers, but this is to misunderstand their power.

They can be sources of information, gateways to new worlds, conversation starters, expressions of personality, celebrators of history, memories, of lives.

Visually stunning, coffee table books are known for their imaginative, sometimes breath-taking, design, photography, and illustrations.  It’s something we understand well

They can be educational. Combining history and information, the past, present and future, they are a strong tool in the corporate marketing tool box . Our clients at Bombardier Private Aviation understood this perfectly.

They can be conversation starters. Their very size makes for a shared experience Their unusual pictures and engaging copy content can kickstart discussions with people.

They can be bespoke private commissions – given as cherished gifts. They are thoughtful, highly personalised, and appreciated by anyone who loves beauty. To honour a life well-lived, business or personal success, a special birthday, to mark a celebration or milestone achievement.  These custom books are handled with extra discretion and care by our small team.

They can express character, taste and personality: the canvas is wide indeed. Coffee table books have scale, stature, the room to explore nuance and range. Luxury brands, and of course people, are complex and a carefully crafted bespoke book is an ideal way of conveying emotional and rational qualities.

Clearly, the tactile experience. They are not a screen. Pages must be turned, ink and glue can be smelled, binding touched, weight felt, cardboard engineering applauded,  unusual front cover materials marvelled at.  They can be true conveyors of luxury.

Boxes can be impressive scene setters: they can be any size or format, made from any material, from cardboard, wood, or metal, glass to  acrylic or resin. Previous projects have even included the use of 5,000 year old fossilised black oak, shagreen, mother of pearl, real gold and even stone.

They can be unparalleled unforgettable sales tools. The medium is the message, as McLuhan said, and custom books stand out. They raise the bar and we have created many.

Coffee table books are cool

Books are apparently having a moment. (Well, another moment. The year 1454 was pretty big when Gutenberg got going).

Apart from vinyl’s comeback, the media is reporting analogue trends in film cameras, letters and postcards, magazines, pens, stationery and collecting things.

And now a new trend, coming from TikTok last year, has been noted: ‘Bookshelf Wealth’. It is an interior design trend focused on the aesthetic of bookshelves.

The emphasis is on read, not just displayed, books. The view should be of shelves filled with books the owner has actually read. Think politician interview back drops at home during the not so heady Covid days.

Custom books should reflect the owner's interests and tastes, usually a mix of genres, styles, and formats. Relaxed and slightly messy is good rather than perfectly colour coordinated.  There is a potential association with wealth and class. If you own large bookshelves, you need space and money.

Our own belief is that real wealth lies in the wisdom gained from reading per se. Not simply parading the number of beautiful books on shelves.

For time immemorial, books have been life-giving and shown us a sense of ourselves in the world. This is our way of being a part of it.

Because we are custom book designers who create bespoke books

SO Books.  It teams us with our colleagues at SO Creative Studio, in a shared passion for all things luxury, including custom coffee table books.  SO Books is where we copywrite, design, produce and print luxury coffee table books.

 

 

Our book design service offers seamless end-to-end book making services. From initial strategy, research and content creation right through to book design, printing and fulfilment.

We have over 25 years’ experience working with global luxury brands across a wonderfully diverse range of market sectors. From art galleries, museums, architecture, property and interiors through to jewellery, B2B professional services, private investors and private family businesses including royalty.

Commissioning a bespoke coffee table book is the perfect opportunity for luxury brands and individuals to present valuable insights about their inspirations, achievements and legacy. And the perfect platform to display a brand’s personality, brand value and beliefs in an unforgettable format.

To learn more about our approach, the service we offer, printing using sustainable print solutions, multi-language and transcreation opportunities – see here.

Or get in touch if you want your luxury brand marketing to deliver an emotion unlike anything else.

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January 12, 2024

Why does London lead in Luxury Brand Marketing?

We receive many new business enquiries from regions outside Europe. They all say the same thing: their country does not understand luxury properly. They don’t have the skill set or expertise to copywrite, conduct market research, design luxury brand marketing and communications to the highest quality and standards needed.

It’s good news for us. Sidestepping Brexit, Britain is still seen as a centre of design excellence. Especially here in London, at the heart of a flourishing cross-cultural epicentre of creativity. London’s love of storytelling, love of words, imagery, history, individuality and character is the luxury’s industry’s creative gain.

Along with France and Italy, we have proved to be the best communicators of the luxury brand mantras of heritage, provenance, narrative, experience, and emotionally  engaging strategy. More importantly, non-Europeans feel we understand the feel, style, tones, moods and textures of wealth. We are indeed true keepers of the faith.

How has this happened?

Chanel, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Patek…etc have all famously become well-established luxury brands the world over.  But they started off as small local artisan family firms. In the last 100 years, the industry has morphed into largely big European companies, ranging from the corporates such as LVMH (with its 75 luxury brands) and Richemont (127 ‘maisons and businesses’) to independent companies such as the Italian Armani and Ermenegildo Zegna, and industrial groups like Swatch and L'Oréal. The artisans still exist in a cottage industry format, and many are hugely innovative and influential as recognised by Walpole’s Brands of Tomorrow.

Europe respects heritage

Europe is one of the most visited regions in the world. The South of France, Paris, Venice, Milan and indeed London can conjure up luxury, elegance, style, beauty – and indulgence. (Well, you have to go to the right parts of course. Nothing beautiful about the North Circular, or Junction 6, M1, Watford)

Pierre-Yves Donzé, in “Selling Europe to the World,” writes of the ascendancy of European luxury being due to “the powerful attraction of an idealised way of life, combining elegance, tradition and hedonism”.  Those wonderful French impressionists and amateur Edwardian gentlemen inventors…

Europe is also the centre of taste, design and craftsmanship in the luxury business. Three of the Big Four fashion weeks are there: Paris, Milan, London - and since 1993 the new boy, New York.

The continent is littered with artisanal workshops that throughout history has hand crafted pieces for industry. There are specialists in every sector including, most famously, the watchmaking and jewellery cutting experts of Switzerland.

Pride in cultural tradition and provenance

Europeans are proud of their long-term luxury histories. Luxury brands created in these countries are guarantees of well-made craftsmanship, style, quality and an image of superiority in build/manufacture and style. Interestingly, as the Economist points out, German consumers may link luxury more with functional characteristics such as product performance and the price/quality-relationship. Think Porsche, BMW or Mercedes.

In part that has happened because of the relationship over time between big business, religion and art.

For example, during the Renaissance, the Medici's were big investors in artists like Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Raphael, and Botticelli.

And the Roman Catholic Church used art to promote their message, dignity and power. Bernini designed St. Peters Square.  Oh, and Michelangelo painted biblical murals on a ceiling to spread the good word to the people.

 New empires, new luxuries, new politics

Europe’s quest for expansion is under the microscope right now. Fortunately, or unfortunately, colonisation brought in new materials, resources, and cultural influences which later became symbols of luxury. These played an important role in shaping people’s perceptions of what luxury, elegance and refinement actually meant.

At the same time, as money flowed in, the middle class grew wealthier, income grew, and people wanted to show off their status, which again created a culture of appreciation of art and design.

Experts at luxury brand imagery and design

We became experts in luxury brand marketing knowing how to communicate exceptional craftsmanship, timeless design, and meticulous attention to detail.

For example, ‘Less is more’. It is a phrase we London-based luxury brand marketeers routinely use. It means a specific attitude, value and tone for how luxury should be presented in UHNW/HNW marketing and brand communications.

It means simple colours, straightforward typography, design that promotes functionality and usually a sense of calm. We all believe such a minimalist approach to artistic or aesthetic matters is more effective creatively and commercially.

At its most purist, it is about expressing only the most essential and necessary elements of a brand design strategy by getting rid of any excessive and therefore, unnecessary components and features. Minimalism takes form, colour, and space and reduces them to such simplicity to attain their essential nature – which is a perfect design philosophy for many luxury brands.

It is a very specific approach not practised in Asia, India, the USA, Canada, and the Middle East. ‘Less is more’ in brand communications and image making means not overly showy. It is about subtlety, understatement, distance. It doesn’t shout. No bling, no big logos. It is what UHNW’s want now. And a very few European countries know how to do it well. We do though:

We are experts on making luxury brands count for more

What you see is what you get. Two experienced luxury brand marketers working on your business.

Anew are a London-based luxury brand agency who help companies – such as Bombardier, Universal Music, Hatch Mansfield and Boodles - increase brand profitability through sharper insights, distinctive propositions, creative ideas, new branding names, market research luxury logo design, messaging, online and offline content, coffee table books, luxury brand websites and faultless execution.

We are particularly adept at working directly with luxury brands, business owners, start-ups and entrepreneurs who are committed to sustainability, outstanding quality and craft.

You can read more about us here.

Based in the heart of London, we'd be delighted to meet for a coffee, either face-to-face or virtually, to discuss any new luxury branding projects you might be considering.

To get in touch do drop us an email.

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January 3, 2024

Why is pursuit of authenticity paramount for luxury brands?

We explore what truth and reality means for success in luxury branding in the seventh article in our series of ‘Brand Matters’ for Luxury Briefing: the renowned international magazine for the luxury industry.

You can read the full text below.

 

‘I'm sick and tired of hearing things, from uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocrites, all I want is the truth, just gimme some truth’.

An angry John Lennon in 1971, and things have only worsened. Fake news. Fake content. Fake products. Fake bodies. Fake personas. Pew Research says it’s going to be a social condition, like crime, that we must constantly monitor and adjust to. Tech used to make things more trustworthy. A photo, (remember Polaroid Instamatics?). To be fair, never the ads. Admen were ranked lower than window salesmen, lawyers, and politicians on the trustometers. I go to a site now and I ask, do I trust it? Who’s funding it, who are the backers, are the writers known, legit. Where is their source, their intel from? How do they make their money? We all go to Google. But we all know it’s SEO’d to the hilt.

In response, we now live in an age where authenticity and truth are enormously influential cultural ideals. We seek truth in public and personal life. We are exhorted to lead authentic lives - as if life itself was not real enough already, to be purposeful, to live the most honest life possible, the life truest to ourselves.

Oh, the pressure of it all! (Suppose a life is led slightly inauthentically, slightly less truthful in a social white lie sort of way, but more fun and better for one’s sanity – and it pays the bills?)

But, in luxury, authenticity is a necessary, worthy, strategic goal. The marketing world, framed by eco-consciousness and the lack of trust we have in so many other areas of our lives, demands transparency. It is a constant struggle and one can see why brands are forever going back to their roots, reinventing or sharpening their better selves, their propositions, their essence, purpose, staying true to a founder’s vision, wondering who they thought they were. Frankly, it’s a tiring business.

But it’s necessary business.  Credibility and honesty help make a brand unique; it’s part of the narrative.

Ideally brands’ history and craftmanship makes customers think and feel the product isn’t false, that it hooks into something deep in our natures. Something that is the very opposite of mass market.

Ideally genuine ideas and messaging might touch people’s hearts and so bind people to a brand emotionally. Consider how powerfully blues or country music emotionally connects with its audience. Three chords and the truth.

At its best, I’d like to think a great hotel, wine, watch or jewellery piece, like art, makes my world better, more comprehensible, and restores it to some glory, some new dawn, no matter how vague or tattered.

Building brand authenticity takes various forms: like using nature to signal quality, commitment, and resources from faraway places using rare raw materials; traditional craftsmanship to signal heritage; and sincere stories of innovations and sustainability. Founder stories are especially important.  By celebrating them, a brand can show consistency and, as a result, trust.

With the rise of Stealth Wealth, we are seeing another way of brands communicating authenticity. Fashion that is ‘real’, with less badging, it is subtle, inconspicuous, hinting at wealth and social status. Clothes murmur, they don’t shout their value.  The wearer makes a statement without having to try to make a statement.

‘Artification’ – the transformation of non-art into Art - of luxury is another way to look authentic. You know how this works: art and luxury have been family since ancient times. Art brings truth, cachet, it offers a high aesthetic pedestal, brings non-commercial values whilst (brilliantly) legitimising its high prices. And it speaks of human craft which is considered more ‘real’. As if on cue, the V&A Museum has just put on a huge new Chanel exhibition exploring the designer’s life and influence.

It all makes perfect sense because the very heart of luxury is its symbolic value over the functional value of its goods and services. It's all about genuineness. The first question we will ask – on seeing, reading or hearing anything – is it ‘Man or Machine’?  Real or Unreal? Is that a real Patek or a counterfeit? Authenticity comes from its emotional and emblematic proof. Luxury costs more because it means more. So, heritage and real craftsmanship, rooted in a specific time period and geographic place counts. You can’t fake it.

Many think authenticity is one of the major challenges for luxury.

But the industry is putting better measures in place to prove a product is what it says it is. For example, companies are working with blockchain tech to authenticate products, which may boost confidence generally, especially in the pre-loved market. In marketing, transparency is of course the holy mantra and we focus on works (e.g. originator’s vision, craftsmanship, build quality, service excellence), but also communication on values/roots, using ‘real’ content, such as user-generated stories, ‘shop-floor stories, or ‘non-photoshop’ pictures.

I feel the issue of real authenticity is deeper with luxury brands than others since the sector, like no other, carries so much expectation. You drive the car, drink the wine, wear the dress, buy the property, brandish the ring, sail the yacht – well, get your crew to, and it’s laden. Freighted with desire to satisfy. Much promise. Much to deliver. Psychologically, financially, its performance, its feel, its aesthetics …the spaces it must fill the buyer internally and externally. But if luxury brands don’t stand up for its own truths, the meaning of the luxury sector will change.

So ‘Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.’  Said Oscar Wilde. And he was right.

Read more from our Brand Matters series:

  • The enduring importance of craftsmanship here
  • Why craftsmanship's vulnerability will win in the tech world here.
  • Creativity: From Origins to AI here
  • Luxury is ageing gracefully here
  • Thinking luxuriously here
  • How distance creates desire here

A little more on Anew - a London-based luxury branding Agency

Anew’s two founders deliver: insights from market research, strategic brand thinking, new brand names, luxury logo design, messaging, online and offline content, coffee table books and luxury brand websites. We help companies increase brand profitability through sharper insights, distinctive propositions, creative ideas and faultless execution.

To get in touch do drop us an email. We'd be delighted to meet for a coffee, either face-to-face or virtually to discuss your brief.

Other articles

December 12, 2023

10 ways luxury brands can flourish in a changing world

Strange times to be writing about luxury.

Nevertheless we are greatly indebted to a recent Spectator piece that draws our attention to ‘values’ and how hard it is to define them in public and commercial life.

Every business these days, from ice cream companies to smoothie manufacturers, has its own values. Even the most innocuous products and businesses… you long to click on one and see something unexpected, like ‘Our values are those of the Ducal House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg between 1715-1761’. But no: it’s always, always the same bromide buzzwords.

Well, yes. A major bank’s values can be the same as a record label, a politician, or the local plumber down the road. They all speak of our people, your people, the people we respect, the people we want, we serve, we grew up with, we love, we want to see again, my children who will looking after the business when I retire want to see again….. as Bowie put it ‘I never thought I'd need so many people.’

Luxury brand values are our life blood

Many say a mix of smoke and mirrors, a fantasy world, a place where customers feel valued and flattered. We trade in historic capital, visually propped by the arts and culture. We make ‘creations’ not products.

But as much thought goes into the brand marketing - messaging, copywriting, narratives, luxury design, imagery, luxury brand strategy, market research, strategic brand thinking, brand name creation, premium brand logo design,  online/offline content, luxury coffee table books, website development and communications campaigns - as the product itself.

Given the background of luxury it is impressive it’s still surviving. Debate over its very existence has, troubled religion, politics, and the law for time immemorial: matters of moral corruption, sin, lack of control, excess to name but a few – and now, rightly, environmentalists.

All that, BUT balanced with The Good Things: beauty, design, innovation, the world’s best craftsmen, authenticity and entrepreneurial courage.

And always success. Luxury has never failed whatever disease, war, depression or unrest has been flung at it.

War-proof (I hate to say it), Covid-proof, recession-proof, it generally sees off economic downtown.

It survives by adapting to change - and staying as it is

Change. Fact of life of course. And marketing departments thrive on it. They love something new – NFT anyone? Now we have AI to contend with/work as a collaborative creative tool.

But I think, in a counter-intuitive way, luxury brand marketers must be concerned with what is unchangingthere are still universal values, motivations and compulsions that drive the luxury consumer.

Though humanity right now, goodness knows, is being sorely tested, at heart you have to believe it hasn’t changed such a lot. Some constants remain.

If the history of luxury teaches us anything, it is its ability to shrewdly tap into our need for exceptionalism.

The rich will still like a good deal. People will still want to party. That bigger house on the hill is still aspirational. The need for applause never goes away…

Status, display/’brag’ value, pride, belonging, identity, vanity, being of value, of being loved, of self-love… Luxury taps into the innate desire, we all have, to believe in something real, meaningful. Expressed with humility, kindness, compassion, and depth of expertise.

So, here are Luxury’s Ten Golden Rules. Tried'n'tested Brand Values that have lasted several generations. Call it thinking inside the box. It’s as difficult to do something new in there, as it is outside any box

1. Get the language right

We have always liked our words as opulent and crafted as the products we are selling. Everything should taste delicious, be sumptuous, is lusciously fragranced, hand crafted, timeless, exquisitely finished and made to last forever. We live in a haze of ultra-luxurious, the best quality, five-star, private, premium, world-class. We want elevated excellence and superiority.

2. Get the aura and ambience right

We understand how important history and backstory is. How the cues of art and culture ennoble a brand and customer. To create the right aura, you have get it as authentic and pure as possible

3. Power, status and ownership. It's still a thing.

So many car, yacht, plane, motorbike, diamond, mad castle, ‘Thing’ stories to choose from. Please add rocket, island, newspaper, and a social media talk site. If you really want to stop the dinner party, tell them about your cryogenic freezing. (The process that involves preserving human bodies at extremely low temperatures with the hope of potentially restoring them to life and health in the future)

4. Craftsmanship - still important after all these years

You know this one off by heart. See here for the many insights we have written on the matter and here specifically which ran in Luxury Briefing magazine

5. Learn something new and luxury is legitimised

What to make of the wine reviewers describing aromas of rich dark currants laden with mocha, loamy soil, charred herbs, pencil shavings, roasted hazelnut, nectarine skins, gushing blackberry, fragrant tobacco, rich soil, white flowers, smashed minerals and metal? Who knew that a wine could be “broad-shouldered” or “sinewy”?

Easy to make fun of to be sure. The serious point is luxury customers do want acquire information if it’s real, has conviction and authority. It gives a purchase talk value, adds a range of deeper psychological values and attributes to a buyer’s character. Read more here on wine label design and copy

6. Why pay more?

At the luxury end of the market, quality is important.  The rational reason people are willing to pay more for high-end products is that they’re buying top-of-the-range quality. That can be defined differently – aesthetics, materials, craftsmanship, where that brand is seen – but it’s got to embody a world of beauty, elegance, and desirability.

7. Rarity is important

If a brand is limiting its production, then you know it’s not available everywhere. That exclusivity is a big part of luxury brands value. Rarity also appeals to the rational mind, of course, as it gives a luxury item intrinsic value. Refusing to discount is another strategy for creating exclusivity.

Companies like Hermès, Louis Vuitton and Chanel never put their bags on sale. The real luxury brands don’t have any wholesale, they only sell directly.

8. Vertical integration

Vertical integration means keeping the production inhouse. That way you are 100% sure that the company retains quality control.  One luxury brand even bought a crocodile farm so that there was no risk of buying sub-standard material – that’s the ultimate in vertical integration. Product innovation is much less important in luxury. True luxury is not fashion, it’s timeless.

9. The importance of a brand story

And you know this one off by heart. Most brands in the luxury space are deeply proud of their heritage and craftsmanship, and customers want a story. For luxury brands, purpose has always been a selling point. A lot of the big European houses were started by having founder stories rooted in craftsmanship. Their family businesses go back a long way. So, many can celebrate over 100 years of heritage and family values. Thinking long term is part of what they’re about. Luxury is also built to last, which is inherently sustainable. Read more here.

10. The importance of experts

Experts are back. You need advisers who deal in facts, not fantasy. We have the experience to give honest and informed answers to the important questions: what makes your premium brand more relevant, and what special value do you deliver to your customer that justifies selling at higher price points?

Whether it’s insight from research, strategic brand thinking, a new luxury brand name and logo design, messaging, online and offline content or a bespoke coffee table book, we help companies increase brand profitability through sharper insights, distinctive propositions, creative ideas and faultless execution.

Based in the heart of London, we'd be delighted to meet for a coffee, either face-to-face or virtually, to discuss any new luxury branding projects you might be considering.

To get in touch do drop us an email.

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December 6, 2023

How distance creates desire: our November ’23 article for Luxury Briefing

We delve into the intricacies of desire in the context of luxury brands for our sixth article in our series of ‘Brand Matters’ for Luxury Briefing, . This is the renowned international magazine providing news, analysis and opinion across the luxury industry.

You can read the full text below.

 

“Something there is about you, that strikes the match in me… that brings back a long-forgotten truth, and the spirit in me sings… you're the soul of many things.”

Dylan on desire. God knows how much has been sung, written and painted on this subject.

But, worthy or unworthy, noble or ignoble, we all have our needy take on it. Craving, longing, yearning, pining for or owning some luxury piece. An item with a desirability that has been created in part by us. Brand marketers are the purveyors of Better Life imagery and yellow-brick-road futures heralding the glory of marvellous promise and unending success…

It takes desire to create commercial desire: that and skill, pricing and positioning and before that production and the right distribution and targeting of customers. Oh, and a few other things that might help: originality, superlative quality and craftsmanship to help crank up the rational and emotional levers to raise a product above the ‘yeah, alright, not bad’. Making something extraordinary takes talent, time and energy. And that’s just the beginning. Bestowing psychological benefits of status, prestige and belonging also takes thought. Polishing the apples on the market stall isn’t as easy as people think.

I’m not knocking it. Taking pleasure in material luxuries can ground us, bring us meaning, and create memories. What may be trivial, irrelevant, or indulgent to one person might be enormously desirable and profound to another. A rose is useless in a practical sense. To ask about the purpose of a rose is to ask about the quantitative value of love or the meaning of a bird. But if having the rose gives depth to your life, and makes you feel more alive, then… wonderful. Expressions of beauty and grace - as many luxury goods are - can help make your world a slightly better space.

I want to look at the practical commercial presentation of desire. One key technique is the balancing of distance. Good art direction can create enough space to be aspirational and desired, but enough intimacy to communicate craftsmanship and quality. I’m greatly indebted to Saatchi’s Richard Huntington who singled out the creative thoughts of the great US choreographer Twyla Tharpe on this.

Creating the right distance is a dynamic at the heart of much luxury brand visual communication. Let’s consider how writers and artists approach this issue. Every creative person has a focal lens they work from.

Some find the greatest inspiration and productivity in seeing the world from a great distance, and some like seeing it close up.

Some prefer a view that is deep, seeing the world in its most expansive form, taking it all in from sky to earth. The whole picture. From a long distance away we see the majesty, the universality of life. (Think Ansell Adams’ photography)

Some see the world in close-ups as if it’s entirely in front of them. It is the small that they are focussed on. (Think Roth/Updike). Every detail is scrutinised intimately as though under a microscope. Close-up is, well, close-up; it is intimate. It is the weft and warp of the fabric, the grain of the leather, the knot of the wood. Miniaturists can have a big impact. (The Mona Lisa measures just 30" x 21"). Huntington writes: “In both the deep and the shallow, we see truth and reality, each equally powerful and each equally profound. And it is at these opposite ends of the spectrum that creativity feels most alive, vibrant and vital.” Much luxury imagery uses this distance dynamic, juxtaposing high production concept visuals next to small product close-ups. Luxury cars and jewellery do it especially well.

And we use distancing in the use of people. Beautiful figures in aspirational out-of-reach lifestyles  - in effect a ‘better’ version of the consumer. You can be like me if you buy this. That promise of a desirable lifestyle and identity.

We use distancing in the use of different times and places. Heritage is a crucial building block in luxury brand building and playing with the past, or using a brand’s past as the basis for its present narratives and displays of innovation works well.

We use distancing in the use of language. ‘High Watchmaking’, ‘High Horology’ or ‘Haute Horologie’ is used to describe watches made with the finest techniques, the most complicated functions, and the most intricate details. Most people don’t know what a high watch is.

And if you know how to pronounce A. Lange & Söhne, Audemars Piguet or Jaeger Lecoultre – or indeed Krug, Pol Roger, Goyard, Givenchy, Hermès, Hublot, Miu Miu, and Cerruti… welcome, you’re in.

We don’t merely sell products; we sell uniqueness, an introduction to a club, differentiation, exclusivity, and dreams, experiences, and stories. Of course, distance is involved. Much of what is on offer is unobtainable to many.

Luxury brands must invest heavily in cultivating imagery that appeals to emotions, aspirations, and values - because that is how products are turned into objects of desire that go beyond functionality. The challenge is ensuring the brand is never some “big rock candy mountain”: a seductive sugar-sweet fleeting experience that has little taste, and no substance.

Serious successful luxury brands have an impactful, beautiful, surface promise that arouses the desire to know and buy them — but also the depth to fulfil that desire. As Keats had it, "A thing of beauty, it is a joy forever".

Read more from our Brand Matters series:

  • The enduring importance of craftsmanship here
  • Why craftsmanship's vulnerability will win in the tech world here.
  • Creativity: From Origins to AI here
  • Luxury is ageing gracefully here
  • Thinking luxuriously here

A little more on Anew - a London-based luxury branding Agency

Anew’s two founders deliver: insights from market research, strategic brand thinking, new brand names, luxury logo design, messaging, online and offline content, coffee table books and luxury brand websites. We help companies increase brand profitability through sharper insights, distinctive propositions, creative ideas and faultless execution.

To get in touch do drop us an email. We'd be delighted to meet for a coffee, either face-to-face or virtually to discuss your brief.

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October 30, 2023

7 steps to creating successful wine brands

It’s the sheer choice of course – there is so much variety. In the off trade, one can be presented with hundreds of bottles, from every part of the world, displaying their labels which feature unusual regions, varietals, names, designs, art, and colours.

It’s a heady introduction to the elixir of the Gods. A drink that has enchanted mankind for centuries with its complex flavours, rich history, and impressive ability to transcend the boundaries of time, nature and culture.

Whether you are pro, aficionado, connoisseur, hobbyist, or mild enthusiast, wine offers a marvellously wide stage for self-expression and enjoyment. (And of course, for the sheer intoxicated pleasure of it!)

But it’s also for the curious, the adventurous, those who want to explore different tastes, learn about different countries, arts/cultures, histories, geographies, creativity, cuisines. And, for deep divers, it’s addresses wider socio-cultural issues such as sustainable environmental innovation, the strength of family, of generational passing down, the rhythms of nature, economic power and the importance of local community.

Whatever makes your heart sing, wine has fascinating, important, brand stories to tell.

Brand break through is hard

But wherever you see it – on shelves, at the pub, in the restaurant – it is tough for wineries to establish a distinct brand. Wine brands remain much smaller than their equivalents in the beer, soft drinks and spirits industries. There's no Red Bull, Heineken, Innocent or Coca-Cola.

Some of the reasons for this include the fragmented seasonal realities of production, which sadly now includes climate change events like fires. Wine is an agricultural product, subject to the vagaries of nature.

(Image with thanks to Esporao: importance of verticality at Quinta dos Murcas)

However, the desire for deliciously tasting quality wine keeps on keeping on. It has increased in the UK. The on and off trade markets have significantly matured. Consumers are more knowledgeable – many are actively seeking taste notes, country, varietal and production information – and the trade are supportive of new wines off the beaten track with interesting backstories and provenances. But it is still hard for a wine to cut through, and for the established ones to remain relevant.

To many ‘brand’ means something different in wine.  Smaller, sometimes less aware makers may think an attractive wine brand label and wine brand name does the job. Regrettably, though both are hard to do well, they do not in themselves constitute a wine ‘brand’ in the long- term, robust, added value sense of the word.

Because that’s what we’re after - a wine brand that can becomethe most valuable piece of real estate in the world: a corner of someone’s mind."  As ad legend and winemaker, John Hegarty put it.

New consumers, new tastes

It does not need to be so complex. At the premium/high-end – as with other luxury products – wine has historically, and intentionally, made itself mysterious, a closed world. Because mystique, jargon, private language, histories, and codes mean exclusivity, specialness, knowledge, and helps justify a price premium. And these wines still have their glorious place in the world.

But younger drinkers are changing things – which is healthy. Much innovative wine brand marketing is happening there. Companies are making wine more accessible, less pretentious, and less ‘stuffy’.  Three good examples can be seen here in the work done for our clients: Estandon, Hatch Mansfield’s Wild Steps, and Derrick Neleman.

It is a comprehensive process spanning market research, brand strategy, name generation, brand narrative and messaging and - working with Studio Parr, our design partner specialists in drinks brand identity, & packaging design - visual identity, and logo design.

How we build successful wine brands

(Image credit: Larry W Koester/ Flickr)

What product has celebrity endorsements like this:

"Wine cheers the sad, revives the old, inspires the young, makes weariness forget his toil" (Lord Byron)

Now that’s what I call an endline. (Quotes from famous wine lovers are numerous and all heartwarming).

So, we are not short of factual and indeed psychological brand building material here.

The challenge is that the stories - origination, production, expertise, authenticity, sustainable nature, regional culture, terroir, varietals and passion - are becoming well-trodden wine brand marketing strategies. I might add these are all strong, sincere, necessary themes and have to be told.

But it’s how we say them, show them, and present them that exercises us. How we dig deeper to create competitively powerful, compelling, emotional, and of course rational, narratives with the most effective values and imagery to stimulate awareness/interest/trial/appeal.

Wine brand marketing - our approach

1. Define the strategic objective

‘Wine brand’ tends to be emotive in wine marketing since there are many interpretations of what the term means. We think any brand that successfully engenders some level of positive emotional resonance with its customers might be said to be ‘good’ , but the very best brands manage to appeal widely without undermining their value or diluting their story.

2. Understand the business objectives

Like any other marketing brief, the commercial background is vital e.g. the current strategy if it has one, its relationship if there is one, to a master brand or wine maker, or portfolio etc. We want to know the maker’s vision for the wine, its purpose, the makers themselves (family/cooperative etc) , the founder story, the competition, tasting notes, vineyards’ location, surroundings, points of natural importance, sustainability policy/practise and the copy/visual relationship plus of course commercial factors such as potential audience, distribution strategy, drinking occasions…

3. A brand strategy

Identifying a winning positioning. Like any other brand, our drinks brand strategy work employs best practice methodology. We use a ‘Brand Circle’ Framework of ‘Why, How, What, Who’, defining positioning, tone, key messaging/proposition and implications for naming and creative direction of which the first expression tends to be the label.

4. The label

Usually the first exposure to the brand and plays a significant role in creating an identity for the wine. Given the multitudes of wines out there, each one clearly requires its own character yet must be seen as part of a similar group if it is to be successful. Few wines are so noteworthy that they can stand alone. Many people choose wine simply by the appearance of the label i.e., the graphic design and the name. Almost like buying old vinyl records by the cover, (Jazz lovers, think Blue Note).

The name, the graphics and all the important choices that support the brand’s premium offer – from the bottle shape (off the shelf or bespoke), paper stock selection, print and production techniques (from foils to embossing to textured can printing) to capsule and closure choice - do all the heavy lifting of creating an aesthetic promise of facts and desire.

Names and designs are disciplines like any other brand marketing communications work. Both are specialist skills. See here for more on our approach to name creation. And here for our blog on wine label design.

5. Create the brand story/ narrative

These have become an accepted, important, marketing tool. From product to politician to pop star to painter to the (pricey) local artisan coffee shop round the corner.

Everyone’s thinking about story arcs.

But having a story helps build brand identities; it enables brands to connect, express personality, and communicate core values.

The best stories celebrate craftsmanship, love of place, intellectual rigour, creativity and reflect winemakers’ constant quest for their brand’s truth and beauty.

An excellent example is this ‘Slow Forward’ story by our client Esporão:

6. Respect winemakers' passion

Passion – like ‘luxury’ – is a much over-used word especially in brand marketing. But little else exists to convey winemakers’ seriously intense energy, enthusiasm, expertise, hard work, obsession, respect for nature, the importance of community, family, and the ceaseless search to produce quality. We happen to like the humility of Harlan Estate:

"If we can enrich people's lives, and just maybe inspire them to do something beyond what they might otherwise have done, that brings us great satisfaction. Our purpose is to help our patrons to have an even more enjoyable and healthy life." (H. William Harlan)

7. Great wine brands need great distribution

Brand names and label designs aren’t enough. It’s not just about the drinks marketing brand agency. We know our place in the food chain. Producing high-quality wine only makes sense if it can reach the right people. Brands need the right buyer to make it to the market. For that you need to have a great relationship with a distributor; they are a vital part of brand building.

One of the very best is our client Hatch Mansfield.

Lastly of course, Number 8. Marketing. It is too big a subject to go into here, but we will be addressing it in a follow up piece.

 

So here's to developing successful drinks brands

Anew are brand development and marketing specialists for ambitious businesses of excellence. We help companies increase brand profitability through sharper insights, distinctive propositions, creative ideas and faultless execution. We are particularly adept at working directly with luxury brands, business owners, start-ups and entrepreneurs who are committed to sustainability, outstanding quality and craft.

You can read more about us here including our drinks experience and that of our close creative associates Studio Parr, the award-winning design studio specialising in premium drinks.

Studio Parr’s impressive wine, spirits and other alcoholic drinks labelling and packaging experience includes: Langham Wine Estate, Everflyht, Benchmark Drinks, Kylie Minogue Wines, Marques De Riscal, Albourne Estate, Hoffmann & Rathbone, Majestic Wines, Marks & Spencer, Chivas, Beefeater, Hayman Distillers, Talisker, Estandon, Hatch Mansfield, Neleman, Ehrmanns, Poynings Grange, Johnnie Walker, Jack Daniels, Stolichnya, Adnams, Siren Craft Brew, Tiger beer, Carlsberg, Heineken, Diageo/Guinness.

To get in touch do drop us an email. We'd be delighted to meet for a coffee, either face-to-face or virtually to discuss your brief.

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September 20, 2023

Thinking luxuriously: our latest article for Luxury Briefing

Here's the fifth article in our series of ‘Brand Matters’ for Luxury Briefing, the renowned international magazine providing news, analysis and opinion across the luxury industry.

You can read the full text below.

Christian Dior’s view on luxury echoes much thinking about the subject from Socrates onwards. He was attacked for being crass and insensitive when he launched at the dark end of WWII, his “New Look’ luxury label. He defended it saying: “In a time as dark as our own, where luxury consists of guns and airplanes, our sense of luxury must be defended at all costs. I believe that in it, there’s something essential. Everything that goes beyond the simple fact of food, clothing and shelter is luxury; the civilisation we defend is luxury.”

In other words, he thought that luxury isn’t just a weird oddity of capitalist society. It’s an asset, a prize, fundamental to what makes us. Luxury is not just about greed, or showing off, it is a human truth and says something about us. I like this philosophical approach and was heartened to read that the corporate world has actually embraced this.

Some French luxury companies have gone to great lengths to understand what they do, and why they do it. A few years ago, LVMH appointed Philosophy Professor Sophie Chassat to its board. The company said her background would enrich them as she would bring philosophical insight to their business. She said: "Often it’s about looking at a problem from a different perspective to find original answers. Between the rational and the emotional, brands often forget the question of credibility”. Marvellous.

There are a few others in this band - and it’s only, and wonderfully, the French who take this seriously. Adrien Barrot is the in-house philosopher for Hermès. Alain Etchegoyen wrote twenty books, advising many various luxury brands, according to Fashion Network. Lancôme commissioned philosopher Vincent Cespedes to create the manifesto behind its “La vie est belle” perfume. At the height of the financial crisis in 2008, the fragrance became the 4th most popular perfume.

This sort of deep diving is easy to dismiss but writer/actor Phoebe Waller-Bridge talks recently of ‘goal models’: how stars need more than good looks to maintain red-carpet fame. Those French companies might have understood better than most brands that being a lux A-lister means more than getting by on a smile.

And we get a lot of smiles, though most are fake, in the recent TV shows like ‘Succession’, White Lotus’ and ‘Triangle of Sadness’. Satirising the rich has always been an easy target. Well, we know luxury is not the answer to everything. The School of Life points out that luxury, in these shows, has more to do with sadness and how it covers up life’s emptiness and hardships. Characters appear empty, lost. But in their 6-star cocoons there is only space, kindness, indulgence and beauty. Of course, you can’t buy love.

But you can buy experiences, stuff and things. Made with amazingly deeply concerned, apparently heart-felt, crafted comfort and thoughtfulness. Qualities they are not getting anytime, any place, anywhere. Luxury as Elastoplast to life’s let-downs. Still, I think we can all agree that combating loneliness and pointlessness is not a great luxury selling point.

Real high cultural capital and status recognition has always been a selling point though and being expressed in different ways outside the usual categories; people have started to look beyond luxury’s traditional playbook. For example, UHNW parents know that educational luxury is what is needed to provide the cultural and intellectual capital their children must have to survive in today’s world. Inherited wealth is simply not enough as it was in the old days. Maybe eating well and living healthily is starting to have some sort of ‘luxury’ status it never had before, particularly in these austerity times. Maybe the weekly yoga, the private trainer, and the gardener are becoming more associated with privilege and status than before.

Which leads us gently down to the eternal conclusion that, as we get older, luxury is not just about material extravagance. Not just the favourite outfit, restaurant, bar, perfume. Though this is all fine of course! It can also mean the smallest, simplest, most unassuming, low-maintenance pleasures.

Being in the middle of a great book, a really decent cup of coffee, a damn good laugh, good friends, no meetings, time to oneself. Van Morrison wants ‘days of wine and roses, jazz and blues and folk, poetry and voice and music, and no music, silence and then writing, words, memories, memories way back’. Sometimes, as those French philosophers hopefully say, we need to remind ourselves that bought luxury is marvellous, important and civilising; but another view is that great luxuries also lie within ourselves. Both are important.

Read more from our Brand Matters series:

  • The enduring importance of craftsmanship here
  • Why craftsmanship's vulnerability will win in the tech world here.
  • Creativity: From Origins to AI here
  • Luxury is ageing gracefully here

A little more on Anew - a luxury London branding Agency

Anew’s two founders deliver: insights from market research, strategic brand thinking, new brand names, luxury logo design, messaging, online and offline content, coffee table books and luxury brand websites. We help companies increase brand profitability through sharper insights, distinctive propositions, creative ideas and faultless execution.

To get in touch do drop us an email. We'd be delighted to meet for a coffee, either face-to-face or virtually to discuss your brief.

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August 30, 2023

It’s hard to find a brand naming agency

We know. But you’ve come to the right place. We offer professional brand naming services and creative naming solutions.

Naming. It’s hard to do. If you are a parent, you know this all too well. Will these children ever forgive their parents: Moon Unit and Dweezil, (Frank Zappa), Zowie (David Bowie), Apple, (Chris Martin/Gwyneth Paltrow) and North West (Kanye West/Kim Kardashian). I guess they didn’t use brand naming experts….

A name is of course a hugely important part of a brand strategy.

Important because the company or brand name is the first contact with your customer and its most elemental marketing communication. The name becomes a natural, authentic extension of your brand, and demonstrates to the world the values of your brand positioning.

For many companies, the name is the brand, and it sets the tone for everything it does.  People will remember strong names and, if they are done well, they produce an emotional connection to a brand.

Names - words - have the power to shape worlds both real and imagined.

To distil a story, its elements and all the associated emotions and rationality into a single word or phrase is no small feat. It takes creative naming consultants.

Emotional benefit, cut through, memorability, originality, promise, impact, alliance to brand proposition, the right cultural connotations, imagery and meaning – naming can be complex and take time.

Name generation strategy

Thinking strategically is a smart starting point. Business objectives and rationale are as important as the name scope.

The best brand naming companies understand that they are naming the positioning of a company, a product, its tone, personality, its ideology and its story first. Not a mere name for the sake of it.

We are creating a word that starts a conversation or relationship with a consumer.

The creative naming strategy process itself can be personal, emotive, memory-stirring, legally challenging, intensely practical and culturally flexible. But done well they can have immense value and longevity.

History lovers will be interested to learn that Stella Artois can be traced to 1708 when Sebastian Artois bought a brewery and renamed it after himself. (Stella means “star” in Latin); Twinings Tea was founded by Thomas Twining in 1706. In 1891, Marcus Samuel began shipping kerosene from London to India, bringing back seashells for sale in Europe. Initially, the seashell business was so popular that it was most of the company’s profits. Samuel incorporated the name “Shell” in 1897. And Levi Strauss & Co. Company goes back to 1837. Founded by William Bass in 1777, Bass Ale became the first registered trademark ever issued by the British government. The brand became so popular that Manet featured it in this now iconic, erm.. trademark-friendly painting:

We have a proven brand naming process

Our innovative naming solutions methodology begins with understanding everything about a company or brand including a range of variable elements depending on the life stage of the company. But these might include its philosophy, vision, business priorities, culture, customer profile, core proposition, competition, planned operation/resources, supply chain and much more.

The more we know, the more effective the name will be.

Riches beyond compare: the words of the world

Names, names names… people like to break down their types.

And indeed, what riches there are, what choice! A treasure chest to communicate brand soul, with words being the tools of the trade:

Descriptive names, acronym names, founder names, invented names spanning the purely invented, mashed-up, smashed-up, pureed, shaken and stirred, foreign names (real and foreign-sounding), poetic, rhyming, names, experiential names, generic adjective-based names (eg advanced, superior, ultra, etc.)

Evocative names that are metaphoric not literal, that rise above the product offered, and paint a bigger picture. Many of the most well-known brands have evocative names.

The best of them lean into shared cultural knowledge, imagery, or association and usually work on multiple levels.

Brand naming trends come and go but inspiration and techniques remain constant, various and many.

  • We have etymology, pronunciation, phonetics, linguistics and translations.
  • We have editing, shortening, lengthening, reordering, tinkering.
  • We have personal life stories, corporate origins, science, nature, need states of the markets/of the consumer, mythology, folklore,  philosophy, psychology, culture, arts, technology, botany, nature, slang, the celestial realm, architecture, cuisine, history, history, mood, emotion, nuance, colour… the glory of it all at our strategically focussed, commercially conscious, disposal.

An AI 'company name generator' isn’t quite the same.

All we want is a name that delivers an effective brand identity: tells the story, stimulates interest, is impactful and captivates hearts. Oh, and it helps if it’s a catchy brand name.

'If you have the words, you'll find the way'

Said the noted poet Seamus Heaney.  We are of course no poets, but we do know our way around language enough to create powerful brand names.

London based Anew are a strategic brand naming agency.  Developing unique business names for luxury brands is part of our expertise.

See more about our approach to creating brand names for companies, new luxury brand names, range names and premium product names, plus our brand naming portfolio here.

We help companies increase brand profitability through sharper insights, distinctive propositions, creative ideas and faultless execution. We are particularly adept at working directly with luxury brands, business owners, start-ups and entrepreneurs who are committed to sustainability, outstanding quality and craft.

We'd be delighted to meet for a coffee, either face-to-face or virtually, to discuss any new projects you might be considering.

To get in touch do drop us an email.

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