What defines a luxury brand? What makes a luxury brand different compared to a regular-average brand?
CM: Dear Mrs. Weiler, What are the most common mistakes and pitfalls in brand management and marketing?
The most common mistakes and pitfalls that I’ve experienced during my 15+ years of brand management experience is that the components of branding and corporate identity are not cohesive. In those cases, the focus is on one component, mostly design aspects, but the behavior is neglected. A design change hardly makes for a successful brand, but a cohesive and consistent way of delivering and exceeding on a brand promise to the client does.
CM: Why is a consistent and cohesive marketing for clear positioning that important?
A client forms an opinion about a company based on the experiences it makes with a certain brand and the message it delivers. For example, if the company promises high quality products and demands a higher price for a superior product, but the customer service lacks quality, it is a misfit. The message that is communicated to the client has to be supported throughout any interaction with the client. Another example is that of real estate agents who focus on the luxury market. If the marketing materials speak luxury, but their personal appearance and professionalism doesn’t match up, or the other way around, the desired success will be missing.
‚Branding is a process that takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight,…‘
CM: Which phases within the brand building process must be processed to succeed?
Branding is a process that takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight, but at the same time, in today’s world of digitalization and two-way communication with clients, it is more than ever important to focus on building brand equity. A fairly new company or business has to build brand awareness as a first step. And in that context, the management team or the owner has to decide what it wants the clients to know about the brand and what makes it different and relevant, and then live and breathe those values throughout your interactions. Based on the awareness, brand perception and brand image are built. Again, it is important to know exactly what image is desired and how to structure the business to support such image. Over time, if managed consistently across customer touchpoints, the brand builds equity.
CM: What branding phase is regularly underestimated in importance? Why is that a serious problem?
In my experience, brand perception is underestimated, because it can’t be seen at first sight but rather is beneath the surface. The emotions and associations a client has towards a particular brand play an important role regarding whether or not to purchase a certain product or do business with an organization. Especially in times of instant messaging and social media, the words and hence perceptions travel very quickly, and negative experiences can leave a significant impact.
CM: What defines a luxury brand? What makes a luxury brand different compared to a regular-average brand?
A luxury brand speaks the language of luxury throughout the interaction with the clients, which includes but is not limited to the superior quality of the product or service, professional behavior of the employees or entrepreneur, cohesive and high-level messaging, and exceeding the clients‘ expectations during each interaction with the client. In real estate for example, the owner of a luxury listing expects superior service and professionalism of the agency and its affiliated real estate agent. This includes the reputation of the agency and agent, the effective presentation of the property, and relevant marketing addressing a (global) luxury audience while being sensitive of their privacy. This is true for other luxury brands outside of the real estate industry as well. When a client perceives a brand as superior and it contributes to a positive feeling or a tangible benefit, the brand gains in importance and relevance, which often leads to the willingness of paying a premium price.
‚Luxury brand building starts with an awareness that each interaction with the client and how the organization is set up has to not only deliver but exceed on the expectation.‘
CM: How can luxury brand building be successfully set up?
Luxury brand building starts with an awareness that each interaction with the client and how the organization is set up has to not only deliver but exceed on the expectation. All factors have to be in line with the luxury brand promise. This includes but is not limited to the product and its features, service, but also personal appearance and alignments with other organizations. When setting up a luxury brand, ask yourself if all aspects and interactions with the clients deliver on a superior promise, and if they are not in alignment, they have to be adjusted.
CM: A luxury brand example you regularly name as a role model? Why?
The luxury brand that is my personal favorite is BMW. I researched the brand over many years, and found that clients are willing to pay more because they perceive BMW as superior, even a status symbol, but it also gives them a positive feeling of freedom and enjoyment when driving a BMW. Positive associations and perceptions make for a raving fan base, which wants to be continuously nurtured. The brand promise cannot be jeopardized but rather needs to be continuously evaluated and adjusted where needed.
CM: Internet marketing and luxury brand building – a good match?
Internet is no longer optional, but a reality in any industry in today’s world. Luxury products or services are no exception here. The marketing of a luxury brand has to be managed in a way where effective online and offline channels are combined as part of the marketing mix. The relevance of the channel and the messaging is key though. Marketing a luxury listing for example in an online channel that speaks to the wrong audience will not be effective. There are many online channels available that reach the right audience, and in this context, target marketing is crucial to the success of marketing a luxury brand.
CM: Brand building in the global real estate industry – what separates good from excellent real estate brands?
In my opinion, excellent real estate brands speak the language of the local client while having a global reach. Real estate is still a local business, and homeowners want to work with agents who understand the local market place. However, a global reach is extremely beneficial in the quest of finding the right buyer in a timely manner for the highest possible financial outcome. ‚Be global, act local‘ is a slogan of some of the most successful real estate firms. Clients want to feel special and understood, it is a lot of trust they put into the hands of a real estate firm and their affiliated agent, so it is important to deliver on the trust in every aspect.
CM: #realtor – How far does the personal brand influence the professional brand in real estate marketing?
The personal brand of a realtor or real estate agent is extremely important and can influence their success, especially in the luxury sector. If an agent doesn’t behave or appear as an expert in luxury real estate, he or she might not even get the chance to do a listing presentation in an attempt to win the listing and market the property. This is another area I work very closely with my clients on, because it is an aspect that is often neglected but can make or break running a successful business.