What exactly is brand positioning?
When we talk about brand positioning, we’re not talking about where a brand sits in terms of market share, revenue or size. Brand positioning refers to the unique space a brand carves out in the mind of the consumer.
In other words: What differentiates one luxury brand from its competitors? How does the brand story connect with and entice a target audience? And what does the brand do to not only reinforce their story, but to ensure it stays relevant with the changing times?
To get a better idea of how it’s done, let’s take a look at five luxury brands who are doing it right.
5 luxury brands nailing their brand positioning strategies
Mention the idea of luxury with a conscience and the name Stella McCartney is bound to come up. Indeed, McCartney’s brand isn’t just in that space — she practically invented it. Since launching her eponymous label in 2001, McCartney has eschewed the use of leather, fur and PVC in her collections and has sought out ways to make luxury fashion sustainable and environmentally-friendly. It’s this commitment to her values that gives McCartney a unique position in the luxury market. Consumers who share her values are drawn to the brand for more than its aesthetic.
The success of the Stella McCartney brand reveals one way to boost your brand’s positioning: establish and uphold core values that your target audience connects with and cares about.
“A heritage cannot be created,” says Breitling on their website, “it must be earned. And that is what sets the Breitling story apart.”
Breitling is certainly not the only luxury watch brand to make heritage an underlying part of their brand positioning strategy. But what differentiates them is their clear and consistent brand message as a maker of precise, indestructible watches of such high quality that they’re trusted by the marine and aviation industries. This heritage of taking to the seas and skies brings with it adventure, nostalgia, and a pioneering spirit that certain consumers long to be associated with.
Breitling understands that positioning a heritage brand in the modern day requires a balance of the past and present. Hence their social media presence is aimed at a modern audience, yet draws heavily on the nostalgic mood that gives them a unique place in the market. And while Breitling has traditionally centered itself in the realm of the gentleman, the brand has recently adapted its brand positioning strategy to be more inclusive to women — a smart move in the post #metoo era.
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A woman of action. Olympic skiing champion and pilot @dominiquegisin after flying at Kägiswil airfield in Switzerland. . #breitling #squadonamission #navitimer #automatic #pilot #cockpitview #pilotwatches #icon #silverdial #flying #aircraft #swissmade #watches #alps #switzerland
In the minds of consumers, Valentino is synonymous with elegance, sophistication and romance. That brand story was carved out from the start, by founder Valentino Garavani in the 1960s, and has been carefully maintained ever since.
The fashion house positions itself as elite and exclusive, often appearing on red carpets and in celebrity wardrobes; but all luxury fashion brands need to distinguish themselves in some way, and Valentino does it with a unique sense of refinement. This is displayed in their collections, which often reference art, mythology, history, and different cultures.
Valentino’s unique brand position is also cemented by the right collaborations. These are used to further the brand image as being cultured and refined — for example, for their most recent collection they commissioned poetry from several modern poets, which was then shared on social media.
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British multihyphenate @gretabellamacina worked on a collection of poems, inspired by the #ValentinoFW19 collection. The works, which appear in #ValentinoOnLove are a study in the search for love, and “the broken light behind each day.” Watch the Women’s FW19 show live from Paris today at 5PM CET.
Louis Vuitton is one of the most well-known and covetable luxury brands in the world. But what is it that gives it a unique position in the minds of consumers?
While Louis Vuitton’s design aesthetic changes dramatically depending on who’s helming each subset of the brand, one thing remains consistent: the LV monogram print. This is an anchor to the brand’s heritage — let’s not forget that Louis Vuitton started out life as a maker of exceptionally-crafted luggage pieces. This fact is ever-present at the heart of the brand’s positioning strategy, with the themes of travel and adventure underlying everything they do.
In the case of Louis Vuitton, travel is presented in a philosophical light. It’s about the journey rather than the destination; adventure and exploration are presented as exciting, exotic and deeply desirable. This message echoes through the brand’s collections, events and marketing materials, and positions it firmly as the kind of luxury brand that anyone who dreams of adventure would want to buy into.
If you want to know how to do brand positioning in the luxury jewelry space, look no further than Tiffany & Co. Their position is deeply rooted in an emotional connection between consumer and brand; a connection strengthened by cultural references, cinema and celebrity. It’s because of this that, even before it is opened, their signature blue gift box is immediately recognized as a symbol of elegance, affluence and love.
Today, Tiffany & Co’s brand positioning strategy is evident in their social media content. The brand collaborates with top-level influencers as a way to heighten their luxury image and boost their relevance with next-generation consumers. For example, a post from Kendall Jenner wearing Tiffany & Co at the 2018 Met Gala garnered over 4.4 million likes and, more importantly, leveraged both her celebrity power and the glamour and exclusivity of the event to strengthen the brand’s position.
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Understanding your brand positioning
These five luxury brands have made their mark in their industries, and have come to dominate their market space, staying ahead of competitors. Knowing where your brand stands in the market in the minds of consumers is essential for understanding how to outplay competition in the ever-changing fashion, luxury or cosmetics industries. And in order to do this, there are several factors to take into account:
- Your follower base
Are you aware of who your audience is? The influencers they follow, the events they attend or participate in digitally, the media outlets they read, and which of your competitors they pay the most attention to.
- Your influencers
Knowing which influencers are loyal to your brand and the audiences they’re activating will help you make more strategic decisions when collaborating with opinion leaders, so as to guard brand authenticity and activate your target consumers.
- The brands yours is associated with
Another crucial step to understanding brand positioning is identifying which brands your brand is associated with. Perhaps you’re hoping to be associated with Chanel, yet your brand gets mentioned alongside up and coming luxury brands as opposed to heritage ones. Spotting these incongruencies will aid you in perfecting your positioning strategy.
If you’d like to learn more about how to obtain a brand positioning analysis, read all about it here.