top of page

What is Luxury Branding, and Three Ways It Can Go Wrong

Do you want to create and sell something unique, something of high quality that stands a cut above all the rest? Try dipping your toes into the luxury goods market. Luxury is a statement and, to many people, a desirable mark of exclusivity. In this article, we will go over what luxury branding is, and some common mistakes people make when trying to sell these products.

What is a luxury brand?

People want what they cannot have. Luxury brands represent something unobtainable to most people. The effect of luxury branding is so powerful that people will buy based on the name attached to the product. These brands symbolize status and exclusivity, and people feel special just owning one of their products. 

But what makes a brand luxury? Well, much of it lies in the quality of the product. The higher the quality of a product, the higher chance it has of being labeled a luxury good. This means that these products are not typically mass-produced on an assembly line, though there are instances of this occurring, e.g., Apple products. An authentic and masterfully crafted product is the end goal for a luxury good.

A factor in something being a luxury is how different it is from everything else, and how hard it is to obtain. In other words, your product must be unique, and it must be exclusive as well. Uniqueness is what sets your brand apart from all the rest, and on top of that, exclusivity drives people’s desire to obtain it. You want your customers to feel like they’re buying a ticket to a special club, that they will have something that makes them stand out apart from average folks. People want to be perceived as special, and a luxury item can only help that perception.

Sustainability is a growing factor in what makes a luxury brand, well, luxury. In a world with a growing market for fast fashion, luxury brands can stand out by making themselves more ethically sourced and produced. Cruelty-free and vegan materials are becoming increasingly popular and appreciated, despite the competition.

Lastly, what may seem like the most obvious differentiation is this: price. A luxury brand is pricey when compared to more common goods. People tend to place more value on items with a higher price point. Business Insider did a blind test where they gave two groups the same bottle of wine and told them they had different prices. 80% of people preferred the more expensively priced bottle over the cheaper one. This proves that our perception of quality and overall value is directly correlated to how much money something costs.

Now that we’ve gone over what makes a brand luxury, let’s look at three common mistakes people make when starting.

Mistake #1: Not knowing your audience

When creating a luxury brand, you cannot cast too broad a net. You have a limited demographic to draw upon because luxury is typically beyond the average person’s means. So, who exactly is your audience? For starters, the wealthy are your main clientele. You are looking primarily for people who are, at the very least, comfortable in life. 

Think about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. At the bottom are physiological needs and safety. The people you are servicing have met those requirements, and then some. What you are giving customers are the two needs at the top of the pyramid: Esteem and self-actualization. These people can easily afford the basics and are looking for fulfillment.

That said, there is another demographic you may attract: impulse buyers. People are often irrational and think based on their emotions. Even if a person cannot realistically afford a luxury brand, they are likely to buy based on the boost to their self-esteem that a product may give them. They may buy something as a reward for a job well done, or because they are upset and want to feel better. Either way, these customers want to feel special just as the wealthy do.

Additionally, make sure your marketing tactics are up to date. By 2025 Millennials and Gen Z will represent 70% of luxury sales. When people think of the wealthy, most think of older individuals who have amassed a fortune over time. Make sure you know how to advertise your goods to a younger demographic as well, as younger people are entering the luxury market at an increasing rate.

Mistake #2: Not selling to people’s emotions

Going back to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, esteem and self-actualization are both things that are driven by emotions. And appealing to these emotions is very important to your luxury branding strategy.

An example of an emotionally appealing successful luxury ad campaign is Gucci’s 2018 campaign “Hallucination.” In this ad Ignasi Monreal, an artist Gucci paired up with, walks you through a series of paintings featuring Gucci products. Finally, in the end, he shows a painting inspired by John Everett Millais’s ‘Ophelia’ (1852). He embraces Ophelia, in her Gucci dress, as soft romantic music plays in the background. In the end, he becomes part of the painting himself. 

The ad invokes a sense of sentimentality. It is beautiful and wondrous. Gucci’s creativity with ads is part of what makes them one of the top luxury brands in the world. You don’t want to appeal to the customer’s rational mind. If they think too logically about it, they may not buy your product. There are cheaper alternatives that may be seen as more practical, even for the wealthy. Instead, you want to sell them an experience along with the product. You want to appeal to your customer’s pathos; make them feel extraordinary. In doing so you will create an emotional bond between your customers and your brand.

Mistake #3: Not telling your story

All of this ties together. When you know your audience you can appeal to their emotions, and when you appeal to their emotions you must tell your story. When it comes to your story, you want it to be relevant to your product. Look at your background. What inspired you to make the product? How did your business come to be? What relationships does your business have?

A notable example of a brand telling a story is Rolex’s “World of Rolex” web page. On this page, they link to various stories about their history with sports, sponsorships, the arts, cinema, and other diverse topics. This web page successfully shows Rolex’s history in a way that is both engaging and informative. If you are a potential Rolex customer, you are bound to find at least one of their stories relatable and meaningful due to the wide array of topics that they cover. Rolex is one of the top luxury watch brands for a reason.

So, make sure to sell your story, because when you sell your story, you sell your brand. You want the purchasing process to be an experience, something entertaining. A story is much more immersive and engaging than just giving customers a string of data.

Final thoughts

In the end, the luxury brand market is difficult to get into. With a yearly revenue of over $300 billion (about $920 per person in the US), though, the market is quite lucrative and desirable to be a part of. So, if you want to be a part of this industry, always remember to know your audience, keep in mind people’s emotions, and sell your story. This is a suitable place to start.



Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page