There are three dimensions of a prestige brand:
- The must of mission and myth
- The balance between exclusion and inclusion
- The need for truth
So say Wolfgang Schaefer and JP Kuehlwein, authors of Rethinking Prestige Branding
. Below is a breakdown of those three points, and how marketers can implement the successful strategies of prestige brands into their own marketing campaigns.The Must of Mission and Myth
The best brands have a solid mission that goes beyond producing the best product. Ben & Jerry’s, for example, has come to represent progressive political ideals. Consumers want to be a part of something bigger than themselves—and bigger than their sweet tooth. Brands like Tom’s and Patagonia have Customer loyalty will flourish if you create a focused mission and place it at the core of your marketing campaigns.The “myths” around prestige brands add to their mystery
and appeal. Cosmetics brand La Mer, for example, has created a myth
around its “miracle broth” skin cream in which the founder of the brand,
a doctor, suffered a burn. He wanted to harness the invigorating and
healing qualities of the sea and developed the brand’s iconic formula,
still sold today. Fashion brand Chanel is defined by founder Coco
Chanel’s epic story, brought up living with monks and suffering loss
after loss of lovers through adulthood. Her clothing designs—featuring
dark colors, heavy fabrics and small chain details—reflect this mythical
The Balance Between Exclusion and Inclusion
Exclusion has long been a marketing tactic for prestige brands. High pricing, limited product availability and generally mysterious brand identity can all add to a company’s success. There’s a velvet rope between a brand’s “design target” and “strategic target”: The strategic target (meaning the people who actually buy a product) wants to be part of the design target (meaning the people who are marketed as the product’s users).
Think of Harley Davidson motorcycles: Its design target is a rough and tough outlaw; its strategic target is middle-aged men who can afford $30,000 machines. Red Bull’s design target is a young sky-diving adventure seeker; its strategic target is truck drivers and third-shift workers. The Need for Truth
Prestige brands tell really great stories in authentic, truthful ways. There are three important facets of storytelling, according to Schaefer and Kuehlwein, and they each accomplish a different customer-engagement goal:
- Stories give us soul. It makes the brand seem personalized more personal and authentic.
- Stories make us believe. Consumers become part of the story, so they get personally involved in the brand.
- Stories let us talk. Customers love to talk. Let them.
Brands that use authentic storytelling make more money, Schaefer and Kuehlwein say. When a product has a story behind it, it will garner revenue many times over what it would sell for without any history or sense of uniqueness.