Eight principles of luxury

What sets luxury brands apart? Like mainstream brands, luxury brands need relevant products, clear positioning, keen understanding of the target customer, and solid business strategy.

But luxury branding goes far beyond these basics—sometimes even beyond logic. Luxury brands evoke an emotional response, be it the subtle satisfaction of pouring the best bubbly on the market or the sheer joy of letting out the throttle on a Lamborghini.

Luxury must be felt.

1 Vision sets the tone

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Luxury brands command substantial premiums in part because the vision behind them is unique and compelling. The focused, engaging vision of a creator is key to the longevity of a luxury brand.

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Founded in 1910, Italian fashion house Ermenegildo Zegna is now managed by the fourth generation of the Zegna family. A clear, far-reaching commitment to creating luxury suits from the best natural fibers in existence has enabled the Zegna brand to stay in vogue for over a century.

2 Rarity and mystery heighten appeal

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Mystery, uniqueness, and a sense of discovery enhance consumers’ fascination with elite products and brands, drawing them deeper into the luxury experience.

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The Bodega boutique at first appears to be only a convenience store. But a panel in the back slides open like the door to a secret passageway, granting access to a hidden world of chic fashion.

3 Obsession generates excellence

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Successful people who have built something out of nothing share one trait: They are obsessed with perfection. The precise tick of a Swiss watch or the finely tuned hum of a German automobile results from the maker’s insatiable quest to achieve the highest possible level of performance.

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Footwear maker Silvano Lattanzi prides itself on meticulous workmanship, crafting each pair of shoes by hand from superior materials. Customers can choose among 400 leathers, differing heel styles, lining, stitching, and even eyelets.

4 Origins serve as a touchstone

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Luxury brands that remain true to their heritage give consumers a special reason to build a relationship with them. When those origins have a component of intrigue, they hold even more sway.

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Forest Essentials stays close to its Indian roots by working with Ayurvedic physicians, traditional ingredients, and age-old formulas. Applying new research and technology, it transforms ancient treatments into opulent beauty products for contemporary women.

5 Emotional intelligence anticipates needs

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Impeccable service and personalized attention are among the hallmarks of luxury brands. Frontline staff must bring highly developed emotional intelligence to understanding customer needs, then fulfilling them to perfection.

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The Four Seasons hotel seeks out employees who are motivated to serve and quick to intuitively grasp the needs and desires of guests, making its clientele feel pampered and personally cared for at every touchpoint.

6 Exclusivity ups the ante

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Knowing that you belong to a select group adds an extra dimension to the luxury experience. The allure of prestige and distinction can prove irresistible to affluent customers.

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Everything about the recently opened Johnnie Walker House in Beijing whispers exclusivity. Only 200 members are permitted to enjoy the whisky vaults and private sections of the house, taking the mystique of Scotch to a whole new level.

7 Appearance conveys status

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Displays of wealth, once discreet, have changed markedly in recent years. Luxury is more overt, sometimes even paraded, and luxury brands are increasingly seen as reflecting one’s status in life.

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Airbus private jets allow you to travel anywhere in style. Making a statement about social status as you fly, these aircraft not only provide the finest in furnishings and fittings, they also let everyone know you’ve arrived—in more ways than one. 

8 Expense is reassuring

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The price tag of an object of desire should announce its worth—even if the cost seems beyond reason. Asking for any less diminishes its value in the eye of the beholder.

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At $100,000, the Zafirro razor makes a man feel like a king in his own bathroom. Only the richest of the rich can afford its iridium handle, platinum screws, and solid white sapphire blades.

Images used with permission from Bodega, Silvano Lattanzi, Forest Essentials, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Airbus, and Zafirro.

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