‘Less is more’ 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, space and reduces them to such simplicity to get to their essential nature – which is a perfect design philosophy for many luxury brands.

It was architect Mies van der Rohe who came up with the thought. His mantra was simplicity, open spaces and materials like industrial steel and glass to create the 'bones' of interiors. The creative industry embraced this wholeheartedly.

‘Less is more’ in luxury brand communications and image making means not being overly showy. It is about subtlety, understatement, distance. It doesn’t shout. No bling, no big logos. It is the softest of soft power. It is what UHNW’s want now.

Look at Succession’s ‘stealth wealth’ wardrobe: neutral palettes, quiet luxury, ‘if you know, you know' appeal and the fashion critics say, very boring. It’s attracted much comment for its very ‘beigeness’. Cucinelli sales have soared.

Interestingly their site opens with a quote from Kant: “Beauty is the symbol of the morally good’ … which neatly takes us from luxury brand design to luxury business and morals:

Why less is more - more or less

The Wisdom of Frugality: a book by Emrys Westacott has appeared on our radar and made us muse – briefly it’s true - on frugality, simplicity and the contradictions these throw up in luxury.

Luxury has form here we know. It has been in the moral crosshairs over its very existence since time immemorial. It has troubled religion, politics, the law; matters of sin, lack of control, excess have been raised to name but a few – and now its environmental responsibilities.

On the one hand writers, philosophers and religious leaders have seen a certain frugality as a virtue and have associated simple living as a key to a good healthy life; something to give us wisdom, integrity and happiness.

And, with our environmental crisis, a simpler way of life looks more sensible. (We won’t include the Luxury Wellness industry in this observation right now. Gwyneth Paltrow doesn’t want a return to pre-industrial basics, she wants a successful luxury lifestyle business.)

On the other hand, a strong case can be made for luxury and extravagance. We are luxury brand consultants after all!

Luxury has Good Things: beauty, design, innovation, cultural taste making, the world’s best craftsmen, authenticity, and entrepreneurial courage.

See many earlier blogs on this for example 'Luxury branding and craftsmanship' and 'Sustainability and luxury - what do they have in common?'

Before: less really was less

Pre industrialisation, living with less, and more simply, wasn’t a lifestyle, or a virtue, it was a stone-cold hard fact of miserable nature, forced upon you.

Consumerism changed all that – yes, we have played our part – and we have been locked into business growth strategies promoting consumption based on the ability to sell more. Affordability, speed and convenience were placed ahead of other considerations like the availability of raw goods and natural resources to make what was being sold.

Now, less is back again, but more never went away

Two factors: economics and environmentalism have changed things.

You know the mood music, you’ve seen the smoke coming out of the chimney.

The eco backdrop. Conscious, not conspicuous, consumption.

Abundance thinking’ is out.

‘Old Luxury’: excess, opulence and status is out.

‘New Luxury’ is in: from being about the product to being about the process and experience. From ‘what’s new, to what matters’.

So, thinking about simplicity and luxury, frugality and extravagance, is evolving as it always has.

When so many people are finding life tough, show off displays of opulence and wealth don’t seem right.

And yet, as the FT headlines, the increase in luxury good spending is ‘extraordinary’ (Source. FT 27/4/23.)

People want to eat cake. Luxury’s doing very well.

More is still more

According to Bain, Jan 2023, the global luxury goods market took a leap forward in 2022, despite uncertain market conditions. The industry is poised to see further expansion next year and for the rest of the decade to 2030, even in the face of economic turbulence.

The overall luxury market tracked by them comprises nine sectors: luxury cars, personal luxury goods, luxury hospitality, fine wines and spirits, gourmet food and fine dining, high-end furniture and housewares, fine art, private jets and yachts, and luxury cruises. They predict a market better equipped to cope with economic instability because ‘their customers are less sensitive to downturns.’

So be it.

The FT has devoted a Big Read to the subject on how all this year’s traumas and crises have made little impact on the luxury sector. Which should be encouraging for all luxury brand agencies.

We make 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 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.

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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