Brand managers for luxury brands face some unique challenges. Your brand image plays a crucial role in the value perception in the minds of your customers – some might even say your brand identity is everything in the luxury marketplace. It’s what makes consumers willing to spend hundreds of times more for a handbag from Dolce & Gabbana than they’d otherwise spend on a similar item. But for your brand identity to have the impact you want it to have, it must be consistent.
Maintaining that consistent brand image grows more complicated as you try to keep up with the latest brand management trends. You might be entering new markets, building a presence on new marketing channels, or experimenting with new mediums to reach your audience. Soon, your team is struggling to manage thousands of brand assets and other digital assets, and productivity takes a major hit.
This, of course, is why it takes a talented and multi-faceted professional to fill the shoes of a brand manager. But, brand consistency isn’t the only hurdle luxury brand managers face. To learn more about the most common productivity challenges luxury brand managers face and what strategies you can employ to overcome them, we gathered recommendations from some of the most disruptive luxury brand managers and digital marketing pros out there.
“What’s the biggest productivity hurdle luxury brands face in the brand management process (and how can they overcome it)?”
Ava Dominguez, PR Manager for Hollywood Watch Company
“Without a structured timeline and plan of action in place…”
Even the most elite brands struggle in today’s markets. After defining the product and customer base, it’s important that all team members understand what tasks they’re accountable for and their deadlines. Each highly valued individual knows their strengths and weaknesses. By clearly defining expectations, all parts of the well-oiled machine are free to designate the time and effort the feel necessary to complete assigned tasks. When assignments and deadline are ambiguous, there will surely be project stumbles, time wasted and loss of revenue.
Zondra Wilson, Founder of Blue Skin Care, LLC
“The biggest productivity hurdle luxury brands face when it comes to brand management is…”
To create your unique selling proposition, you must understand where your product and company fit into the market. What makes the product different from its competition? Is it more durable or cost-effective? And how is your company different? Is it more innovative or stable? Define it and write it down.
Steve Pritchard, Business Consultant for Healing Holidays
“Luxury brands often offer a ‘classic’ and ‘traditional’ experience…”
But high-end companies often face the issues of seeming out of date and not in touch with the current pulse of the market. Rebranding is costly and takes a long time, and a complete overhaul of your company’s image can be risky because, while you may try to stay fresh, you don’t want to compromise your brand values.
Instead, it’s best to constantly add small, modern updates. This will help to keep your brand fresh, without alienating your target market, costing a fortune, or turning your brand inside out in an attempt to stay relevant.
Jack Charles, Representative of Famous George
“The biggest brand management challenge facing luxury brands is…”
Morality. Remembering that what you do is out of reach for 99% of humanity. That while people all across the globe are suffering just to survive for that day, you may be stressing about a minor detail on a product that has resulted in a defected order and a disgruntled customer.
Remembering that your brand is never bigger than your humanity is the biggest challenge for luxury brands.
Lori Meddings, Partner at Quarles & Brady LLP
“One of the biggest productivity hurdles faced by luxury brands is…”
Counterfeiting. The luxury goods counterfeiting industry is enormous, and is a huge bottom line killer, liability red flag and reputational risk. Brand owners invest significant amounts in counterfeit enforcement, many employing full-time staff in-house or engaging outside counsel to monitor online selling platforms across multiple jurisdictions, and conduct investigations, raids, litigation and other forms of escalated enforcement against larger targets.
The luxury brand industry in particular faces an uphill battle, largely because demand for counterfeit goods is high, and many of the counterfeits flow out of and stay within China, where creativity is needed in order to see success in enforcement. Simply scouring the web and filing countless online takedowns or pursuing small raids is futile. A customized strategy employing a variety of tactics should be explored and considered, because sadly this problem is not going away anytime soon.
Anubh Shah, CEO of Four Mine Inc.
“Brand consistency and high-quality content production is a time-consuming process…”
However, it is essential to creating a good brand image and building trust among customers. Therefore, while this can be a hurdle, it is an essential aspect of creating a lasting brand impression. Consistency is tough to maintain; however, it helps in establishing a recurring value for customers. Getting all members of the team on the same page, communicating and sharing work consistently can be a challenge. But if overcome, this leads to success.
Marcus Lansden, Brand Manager for the VibesBase Enterprises
“One of the major hurdles luxury fashion brands face in the brand management process today is…”
Staying true to who you are while continuing to offer freshness. Fashion fluctuates, trend changes, and we all have to move forward. The biggest rub in that: How do you move forward with your product season to season and still keep in line with your brand message? How do you gracefully evolve into new categories that make sense for your target consumer? How do you retain that loyal client and give them innovation in a way that keeps to your message and makes them clamor for more?
Ashley Ludgood, Digital Marketer for Standards & Practices and Level 7
“Branding for cheaper products is fun as a marketer…”
You can play more, and if the product is relatively consistent, the marketing gets to be more creative. But when you’re marketing an ever-changing product, particularly a luxury product, your branding has to be tight-knit. Consistency and comfort accompanied by the ability to expect something specific is what creates luxury. Even when you’re creating accessible luxury, you’re mimicking the experience of that ease and consistency. If you’re working with a lot of creative people, being able to create that consistency as trend changes or human resources change can be difficult. With creatives, each person brings their own viewpoint and personality to the brand. But your goal is to maintain the brand’s freestanding identity. That can be difficult.
Tim Brown, Owner/Marketer at Hook Agency
“Perfection is the enemy of profitability: the biggest productivity issue that luxury brands face is…”
Overly strict content requirements, and overly strict requirements for promotion in general. Quantity matters – when it comes to social and influencer initiatives, and mediocre/not perfect promotion is better than lack of volume. Having simple, but clear requirements for content, promotion, and influencer efforts can help you overcome the ‘blocking’ overly restrictive approach. Get them clear, but don’t make them so strict it makes it hard for influencer and your marketing team create volume in your efforts.
Carmine Mastropierro, President of Mastro Digital
“One of the biggest hurdles that luxury brands face in brand management is…”
Determining their unique value proposition. The fashion, lifestyle, and beauty markets have some of the lowest conversion rates of any industry. This is because it is becoming increasingly difficult to communicate why your product is unique. Luxury products also typically come with high price points, making value propositions even more important to convince consumers.
Luxury brands can get over this by shifting their focus to benefit oriented marketing. Features are pieces of information like sizing, color, and fabric. They are mandatory, but not what gets customers interested. Benefits are the tangible experiences that they will receive from your product and are normally based on emotion. This might be increased confidence, self esteem, or the feeling of being special.
Benefits can be communicated through product descriptions, paid advertisements, or slogans. This will make luxury brands stand out among competition and allow customers to immediately understand what makes them different.
April Davis, Founder, Matchmaker, and Dating Coach of Luma – Luxury Matchmaking
“I believe the biggest hurdle to overcome for a luxury brand is…”
To remain true to the brand while keeping up with current content strategies. It is easy to get swept up in social media, but if you do not have a clear vision for your brand it can start to stray away from what you would consider a luxury-brand look. Remember to follow other luxury brands to see how they stay relevant and true to their brand so you can incorporate your own best practices. Take note of what your consumers respond to and enjoy when it comes to content to keep producing what draws them in.
Carlos Castelán, Managing Director of The Navio Group
“One of the biggest hurdles facing luxury brands in the brand management process is…”
The ability to go from concept to production and then have product in-store in shorter times.
Technology has accelerated the pace of change across the industry and the ability to gather customer feedback more quickly and implement learning has become crucial. Young, digitally native upstarts – such as M.Gemi – are able to go from concept to product in 90 days because they have mastered the ability to gather customer feedback and build it into their brand management process.
While high-end fashion in many ways does not rely on “linear” product development, gathering feedback to help align on things such as colorway choices or new services can help brands better serve their customers while avoiding a situation, such as Burberry, where $38 million of dollars in undesirable, unsold inventory is destroyed.
The best way that luxury brands can be productive is to have a clear approach to gathering customer feedback through qualitative and quantitative data and integrating it into their brand management process.
Ryan Lockhart, President of Group46 Marketing
“The biggest hurdle is to maintain brand consistency…”
With so many people working within the production process, it is extremely easy to dilute a luxury brand based on the individuals personal preference or opinion. Having a clear, direct and concise brand guidelines as well as visual communications standards assists in ensuring the brands integrity s not diluted by the interns opinion.
Jared Beckstead, Digital Marketer for SEO.com
“The biggest productivity hurdle luxury brands face in brand management is absolutely…”
Balancing cost vs. benefit when creating sponsorships and partnerships. Luxury brands live and die by who endorses them, so they are a necessary part of the business model. Professional sports teams, athletes, pop culture icons, etc. can either be great or terrible for the bottom line.
Forecasting the benefit from these partnerships makes all the difference in the end result to revenue. Perhaps that athlete would look really good for the brand, but the revenue benefit would be the same by using a cheaper athlete to be a spokesperson. Defining what a specific partnership with a person or brand is worth vs. the cost is often overlooked by luxury brands that say brand awareness is worth whatever the cost. But as the years go by, the ones that remain with open doors are those who forecast the time old cost vs. benefit.
Bijan Abdi, Founder and CEO of Freedom National Insurance
“Luxury brands have several issues when it comes to brand management…”
Some are self-created, such as the belief their customers will not purchase from the e-commerce space. That may have been true more than 10 years ago, but now internet purchasing capabilities are a must.
Stacy Caprio, Founder of Accelerated Growth Marketing
“The biggest productivity hurdle luxury brands face when trying to manage brand perception is…”
Effective communication with individual influencers and those who promote the brand, as well as communication with happy and unhappy customers via social media and email channels.
To overcome this, they can outsource communication to a VA or lower-level employee so it is not on the shoulders of higher-level employees. There are also ways to automate some tasks, however it should be kept person-to-person and not fully automated for best results.
Jonas Sickler, Marketing Director for ReputationManagement.com
“When luxury brands decide to expand their market share by offering a lower tier product (think iPhone C)…”
They run the risk of tarnishing their premium reputation. High-end customers may find the brand less appealing if it becomes more affordable.
A better strategy is to launch a separate brand that won’t interfere with the parent company’s image (think Old Navy / Banana Republic).
Stephanie Anton, President of Luxury Portfolio International®
“For luxury brands, the biggest productivity hurtle can be…”
Making sure that messaging is consistent. Every detail of the customer experience, in person as well as online has to be distinctive, personal, and, particularly because it is luxury, executed flawlessly.
The affluent consumer is extremely savvy and detail-oriented and has had a lifetime of being marketed to by the world’s most exclusive brands. They expect and demand, the best of the best, and they are willing to pay for it. As a result, a bad customer experience can immediately impact their brand loyalty. Employee training, attention to every detail, and a commitment to excellence, are essential to making sure that the value of the brand is conveyed at each and every touchpoint.
Nate Masterson, Marketing Manager for Maple Holistics
“The biggest sell for a luxury product is exclusivity, the VIP feeling…”
This doesn’t play well with brand management in that to be VIP is associated with subtlety and word of mouth. Brand management relies specifically on visibility. Platforms like Facebook and brand-managed Twitter completely shatter that sense of the elite.
A way that luxury brands can manage their brand without selling out their actual brand is to utilize influencers. Finding the right influencer can promote your brand without compromising the brands VIP status. In fact, the right influencer can even enhance it. This means that the public image of your brand remains aloof, luxurious and aspirational.
Jacob Fenuccio, Founder & CEO of Fractal Solutions LLC
“The biggest hurdle luxury brands face in the brand management process is…”
Maintaining alignment of company goals and strategies throughout all teams, projects, meetings, and tasks. It’s especially important with luxury brands that want to nail that consistent voice to their customers. How can brands overcome this? Utilize an innovative management software like TEAMS. They even offer a free demo to get you started.
John Linden, Founder of MirrorCoop
“One thing that constantly requires management is customization…”
When someone is paying a lot of money for something, they tend to want it customized. It’s understandable. But this presents a challenge for the brand, who has to put extra resources into customizing the product. Unfortunately, many luxury brands operate with very small teams, so it can take some time to fulfill the customer’s order. Ultimately, this can mean small profits for the brand.
A consistent brand image and brand messaging are important for any business, but they’re the driving force of success for luxury brands. With a digital asset management solution like MerlinOne, you can ensure brand consistency across every department, every marketing channel and every communication medium with ease to solidify your brand identity. Schedule a demo today to learn how MerlinOne’s DAM solution gives you more control over every valuable brand asset – so you can focus on executing more impactful branding strategies.