3 Deep is Australia’s leading luxury branding and creative agency

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Luxury

 

 
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What is luxury? How do we define, understand, communicate and engage with it? As cultural and commercial agendas change, so do the values and characteristics of luxury and what it represents to an individual, a culture and even a civilisation.

In strategic marketing and communication terms luxury is, at its core, access to a dream of exception. It is perhaps the most discriminating aspect of luxury and that which creates the key differentiator to premium and mass market products and services. While all basic products aim to satisfy a need – and in doing so function on an strategic axis of price versus function – luxury products and services seek not to respond to an individual’s needs, but to their dreams. ‘Luxury is a condensed version of beauty, quality, eternity, humanity, love, self-respect, impressing others, self-pampering, self-reward, power and symbolism.'

Since the beginning of this century luxury brands have redefined how they communicate and engage with their audiences. Having long grappled with the changing beliefs of their traditional customers, the emergence of a new and unique generation of luxury consumers has changed the playing field entirely. New luxury consumers are looking at the edges of luxury – seeking the niche, the new and the next. They want to share their knowledge with peers and engage with brands that reflect their own values and genuine intellectual engagement with fashion, design, culture and the arts.

Acknowledging the changing attitude of consumers and their desire for self-actualisation and self-fulfilment, it is evident that those brands that have the capacity to overcome the constraints and limitations of everyday life and move beyond the pragmatics of function and rationality into the realms of emotion, aesthetics and the sacred, will not only benefit from an increased strata of loyal proselytes, but will inevitably discover new and relevant ways to innovate and connect with those who share their vision.

Brands ultimately reside in the customer’s experience – a result of him or her encountering, observing, buying, using and interacting with an organisation’s products, services, environments and staff. Every one of these experiences is a ‘moment of truth’ for the brand-customer relationship with the experience either being positive or negative, ephemeral or engaging, differentiating or indistinguishable. While every brand must define, communicate and demonstrate their own unique values, personality and character, we believe there are six key dimensions that all brands need to harness in order to create and maintain an aspirational world in which there is a central and unifying idea that stimulates engagement, validates the brand promise and connects with the dreams of those looking to participate within that world.

Artisanship

In this commoditised world, luxury consumers seek out brands, products and experiences that are linked to the artisans that have designed and crafted them. Whether it be the hand-stitched seam on a Brioni made-to-measure suit or the beautiful imperfection of a Rick Owens chair, we all respond to the human connection behind the products and services we desire. As art was historically religious, it was afforded the very best from the civilisation from which it was conceived. This kind of religious edification gave rise to artefacts being coded with a sacred DNA. Luxury products and services seek to maintain an enduring relationship to the artisans of our time for art and indeed the artefact perpetuates the idea that ‘the function of luxury is the aestheticization of society, the overtaking of the material by the spiritual’ and ‘elevation through beauty and art'. By maintaining a lineage between the artefact and the artisan, luxury seeks to transcend its material confines.

Authenticity

Luxury brands have roots just like human beings have ancestors. All successful luxury brands celebrate a unique lineage and provenance and each has a unique story and place of origin. To be authentic in this context, luxury has to be true, unquestioning and innate. A close connection to history and tradition however, should not come at the expense of being relevant. Provenance and history are distinguishing precursors for all luxury brands, particularly those of European origin where strength and confidence were historically drawn from a reference to the brand's long history and, in most cases, founding creator. Engagement with luxury in the 21st century however is far more nuanced and layered. Luxury brand owners are now charged with navigating often contradictory notions such as; modernity and the past, exclusivity and accessibility, creativity and timelessness. While the strategies to manage each aspect of this remit are varied and many, we believe that the core of a luxury brand is its identity. By having a clear and strong sense of self (personality), an identity that legitimises authority and a culture that allows the brand to participate and contribute toward the landscape in which it operates, luxury brands are afforded the privilege to be daring and contemporary, innovative and unique.

Time

Time is the ultimate luxury. It is the only truly limited resource we have. As the pillars of service, quality and experience continue to have an impact on a customer’s advocacy for a brand, so too will a brand's acknowledgment and curation of time. By understanding the value of time and its relationship to luxury, brands not only better serve the needs of their customers and successfully manage each moment of truth in the customer brand relationship, but ultimately have greater control over the real and perceived value of the luxury goods and services they provide. Prolonging the pleasure of consumption through the design of unique service rituals, or suspending time through intelligent architectural narratives or store design, are all ways in which a brand can control their theatre of experience and ceremony of engagement with customers.

Individualism

A vital ingredient in the projection of a brand's beliefs, vision and values are associations with the great iconoclasts of our age. Each can cultivate fertile ground for a patron's development of self-image and self-expression, and each can project a future vision for the brand. As emerging markets mature, so too will a consumers sense of self-awareness, individualised tastes and style. As luxury is the ‘expression of taste, of a creative identity, of the intrinsic passion of a creator’, luxury brands entrust their leaders to establish powerful relationships with their proselytes, and deliver to them, the various codes, signs, gestures and traits that allow consumers to create their own concept of self.

Creativity

Luxury brands must explore and occupy the nexus of design, fashion, art and culture – they must be creative leaders, not followers. It is the ability to constantly inquire, differentiate, surprise and create that distinguishes a luxury brand and creates desire. As the value of a luxury brand is underpinned by the quality of its image, it is vital that luxury brands manage every aspect of their creative expression. From seasonal campaigns through to curated events and initiatives, a luxury brand's creativity should never be compromised at the expense of established conventions, available channels or trending technologies.

The Extraordinary

Luxury brands must continuously strive to create and deliver the extraordinary. This takes courage, attention to detail and an unwavering commitment to excellence. But what does it mean to create the extraordinary and how can it be embedded within the actions and culture of a brand? Within the context of luxury, being extraordinary means overcoming the constraints and limitations of everyday life, moving beyond the pragmatics of function and rationality and into the realms of emotion, aesthetics, hedonism and the sacred’. Luxury brands must deliver transcendence to their disciples – a sense of surprise and joy not found through the rationalisation of return on investment, but through a personal and spontaneous creation of desire and the stimulation of dreams.

For more information on the Six Dimensions of Luxury or how 3 Deep can actively contribute to the evolution of your brand please contact Brett Phillips, Founder and CEO at brett@3deep.com.au.

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