"Nothing happens, and nothing happens, and then everything happens”

Fay Weldon.

What to say about luxury given the way the world is right now?

Two thoughts intrude on a crowded, bewildered, mind: trust and boredom – and what that means for luxury brands.

1. Trust

Each year, Edelman publishes its “trust barometer". This is the annual report on trust in media, government, business and NGOs from the global public relations firm. Here are the top two findings:

‘Nearly 1 out of 2 respondents view government and media as divisive forces in society. We find a world ensnared in a vicious cycle of distrust, fuelled by a growing lack of faith in media and government. Through disinformation and division, these two institutions are feeding the cycle and exploiting it for commercial and political gain.’

‘Business is not doing enough to address societal problems. We see an even greater expectation of business to lead as trust in government continues to spiral. But this is not a job business can do on its own. Business must work with all institutions to foster innovation and drive impact.’

In other words, who can be trusted?

Apparently, business.

Of all institutions, business was ranked the most trusted by respondents for the second year in a row in the wake of disappointing COVID-19 responses by many governments around the world. And this was before the energy crisis.
But with trust comes responsibility.

This year’s Barometer saw an increased expectation on business to lead in addressing societal problems as fewer people trust their government to do so. Despite those expectations, most people reported that businesses weren’t yet doing enough to address societal problems such as climate change, economic inequality, and workforce reskilling.

Well, this isn’t a political blog but, according to the survey, there is a renewed clarion call to business – and that means strong brands with narratives of clear meaning, purpose and presentation. It may be old news, but the pressure on brands is getting heavier.

And that's what we do:

But along with all the strategic and creative challenges in creating, designing, writing and sharpening brands there may be other forces to contend with.

2. Boredom

Do you think Hollywood films are boring? Television, boring? Pop music, boring? The art world, boring? West End theatre, boring. Books from big publishing, boring? Advertising, boring?
Apparently, plenty of people do.

The game may even be up on the brand narrative. Storytelling has become accepted and used by all. We all know about story arcs. Everyone knows the game.

You may indeed wonder about the ad industry’s lack of creativity. They can’t get the people…

A new book on cultural stagnation is out: ‘Status and Culture: How Our Desire for Social Rank Creates Taste, Identity, Art, Fashion, and Constant Change”:

It apparently lays the blame for artistic stasis on the deadening power and presence of marketing. The risk aversion of cultural corporates/owners (film studios/record labels etc) can’t explain why there’s not more interesting indie stuff bubbling up.

One of its explanations is how using cultural capital signals place in the status hierarchy. (This we know in luxury brands.)

People are no less obsessed with their own status today than they were in Roman times.

But it wonders, if the value of cultural capital is debased – more populist – there is “less incentive for individuals to both create and celebrate culture with high symbolic complexity.”

Yes. Sounds complex and rather academic.

In practise it means it makes more sense for people to fake a ride on a private jet than to fake an interest in contemporary art. Gets the numbers.

Old truths still matter

We are optimistic:

1. Trust. It comes from what luxury is good at: beauty, design, innovation, the world’s best craftsmen, integrity, authenticity, entrepreneurial courage… physicality and experience. Important in a tech world.

2. Survival. Luxury is resilient. The sector has never failed whatever disease, war, depression or unrest has flung at it. Recession proof, it has always seen off economic downtown. Read Lucia Van der Post at the Walpole: on luxury’s new philosophy: buy less, spend more, invest better.

3. Creativity. Done well, it does not bore. Luxury is not only the holy mantra of authenticity, provenance, history, craftsmanship, quality, scarcity. It can be provocative, challenging, mischievous, funny, brave, contradictory, intimate…

Image credit: Mark Hibbert courtesy of Harris Reed 

Who understands how to make luxury brands today count for more?

We do.

Anew are a luxury branding agency for ambitious businesses of excellence. Whether it’s insight from research, strategic brand thinking, a new brand name and logo design, messaging, online and offline content or website development, 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.

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 projects you might be considering.

Get in touch here.

Other articles