Ever wondered why people are willing to spend more money on a product than seems to make sense? Ultimately, it’s all about branding, with a dash of psychology thrown in for good measure.
In psychological terms, believe it or not, many people like forking out on luxury, even when deep down they realize they are being overcharged. It’s called the Veblen effect, and it makes them feel good, pure and simple, and every last one of the luxury brands out there knows this as a fact.
And in branding terms, it’s all about how a company speaks to them. Visual communication plays a huge role in this, from the ads you see on billboards through to the way you are greeted in store.
With this in mind, let’s see how the vast majority of the luxury brands operate in the visual communication arena. What do they do that taps into the emotions of their customers? How do they differentiate themselves from the rest? And how on earth do they get people to spend so much money on their products?! It’s all about color, packaging, visual heritage, art, imagery, social displays, and logo design.
First of all, color psychology plays an integral part in selling luxury. In fact, some companies have even trademarked specific tones of a color. Why? It’s simple, really. Colors leave a considerable impression and are highly memorable. If you can tie your brand into that specific color, then every time someone sees it, they might well think of that company.
If you can choose a tone or hue that hits the right notes with your audience, it can be a way of tapping into their thoughts. Think of the sexy red of Ferrari, or the outdoor, wild green of Land Rover. Black is another common color for luxury brands – it’s a sign of elegance and sophistication, and everyone from Boucheron to D&G use it to good effect.
Don’t forget, it’s not just the product inside the package that is meant to catch the eye. The packaging is supposed to affect you, too. We’ve been through color already, but what else comes to mind when you think of luxury products?
Stylish calligraphy? Intricate logo? Wrapped to perfection? A brass seal stamped with a laser engraver? All these things – and more – give off an air of quality, experience, and history that are incredibly important to consumers. It creates an air of trust and persuades people to spend that little bit more than they usually would.
Heritage is all about storytelling, and luxury brands do this to perfection. Take Apple’s communication to their audience. Essentially, they state they believe in thinking differently, and challenging the status quo. This line tells you the reason for Apple’s existence. The next line shows you how they get there – by making all their products beautiful, easy to use, and user-friendly. And finally, they say that making computers is just a side effect of their existence – which is just telling you what they do.
It takes care of communicating your heritage so simply, just with words. All you need to do is tate why you are here, how you achieve your goal, and what you do. It’s as easy as that.
Art and Imagery
In fact, it’s fair to say that luxury brands should stick to keeping it brief in all their communications. Many of them look to art and imagery in everything they do. It’s all about glitz, glamor, and very subtle social signaling.
Science, rationale, and realism are entirely out of the window, and everything is about artistic expression and the vague experiences they provoke. Even the calligraphic strokes of a brand name can give off that artistic vibe, and help you buy into a brand.
You might not equate social media with luxury brands. But according to research, social sites influence something like 45% of all luxury sales. That’s an astonishing figure, but it’s easy to see why. Social media is, by and large, a visual media. Whether it’s videos of high-quality products on Facebook or Youtube, stunning or aspirational images on Instagram or Pinterest, people are hungry for it in their millions.
Ultimately, the vast majority of people are highly aspirational, so it makes complete sense they want to get involved with these famous, luxury brands. They want to display their status, look cool, and, if you like, show off, and it’s very similar to how some people like to show they have altruistic tendencies by showing support for charities.
Logos are pretty much the most efficient branding tool for luxury companies. It’s like a Royal Seal or a Papal Stamp, such is the impact a logo can have in the minds of the average consumer. However, in recent years there has been a change in the opposite direction. Take Louis Vuitton, again. The leather and fashion design company spent the first decade of the millennium splashing their logo everywhere. But in recent years, they have stopped – only putting it on unique, limited edition products. Unsurprisingly, these fly off the shelves as soon as they are on sale, and the limited availability makes them highly exclusive.
Finally, you might notice that the vast majority of luxury brands avoid using the term ‘luxury’ at all when it comes to their communications. And there’s an excellent reason why. The next time you go to your local grocery store, take a look around at what you see. There’ll be luxury biscuits, luxury tomato soup, luxury yogurts, and lots, and lots of luxury toilet paper. Luxury is everywhere, apparently, and you will often see the original luxury brands using terms like prestige and premium instead.
Overall, you can see that visual communication is critical for luxury brands. In fact, they actually use very little else. Look at any advert on TV, billboard, or magazine, and you will see few words and lots of lots of imagery. It’s all about putting pictures into people’s heads, defining elegance, and, quite often, actually nothing to do with the product itself. It’s aspirational lifestyles they are selling more than anything else.