All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
Just like the Seven Ages of Man described by William Shakespeare, a Luxury Brand also has Seven Ages. The column aims to capture these stages of a Luxury Brand – from conception till death and rebirth. Just like a man, a brand also goes through the motions of life and has its share of ups and downs and it also evolves with time and maturity.
At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
This is a time when a luxury brand is conceived and the creator decides on the raison d'être. Sometimes a luxury brand is conceived by accident and some other times it is by planning.
This is a critical juncture for any creator as this is the story that justifies the birth of the brand. Be it creating a new luxury label from scratch or making the brand an offshoot of another established brand.
When Gucci acquired the house of Yves Saint Laurent (YSL), Tom Ford was named creative director of that label as well, displacing Saint Laurent himself as designer of the company's ready-to-wear line. Saint Laurent did not hide his displeasure with this development, openly and regularly criticizing Ford's collections. In April 2004, Ford parted ways with the Gucci group to launch his own label due to creative differences. Tom Ford brand now is a force to reckon with.
Determining the Brand Gender: Brands inherently have a gender. Say a Rolex or a Patek Philippe is a masculine brands whereas Chanel or Dior are feminine. It’s tagline says: “You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely take care of it for the next generation”, where it is always a father taking care of his son.
So based on the gender of the brand the entire life journey and positioning is planned.
Whether incubation is needed: If the brand is launched prematurely, there is a need for immediate incubation, just like with babies. The incubation saves the brand and makes it stronger to face the world. The parents realise that the brand is too fragile to withstand competition and will die prematurely. So this forces the parents to strengthen the brand and make it fit for survival.
The whining schoolboy
Then, the whining school-boy with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like a snail
Unwillingly to school.
The early years: This is the time of doubts, the irritation of failure, the sweetness of initial success. The exposure to criticism. This is the time when you realise the strengths and weaknesses, the areas that need nourishment for the brand to grow.
The teen/adolescent/puberty: You start realising the changes (hormonal) that a brand is undergoing. This is a critical time when you need to be patient as even a well thought through plan may go haywire and this is when the brand starts developing character.
And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow.
A confident young luxury brand that falls hopelessly in love with itself. It just sees how beautiful it is and keeps admiring the story of its birth and growth. This is a time when “Brand Ego” takes birth.
Then, a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden, and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth.
The dominance of Brand Ego: This is dedicated to the facets of Brand Ego. “A car that runs of reputation” is one such example. Ego creates brands, makes them reach heights that they could have never reached with humility.
For more, Read: Luxury buying is driven by a three-letter word: EGO
And then, the justice,
In fair round belly, with a good capon lined,
With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws, and modern instances,
And so he plays his part.
The maturing brand: Ego grows and so does wisdom. The luxury brand now has more clarity of its clients and its target group and even about its strengths and weaknesses. But ego still plays a significant role.
Into lean and slippered pantaloon
The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound.
This is a time when the brand starts to show signs of fading. This is when there is the conception of a revamp. The idea that the brand is nearing death looms large. So the custodian or the parent looks at ways to save the brand or rebuild the brand or even the birth of a new brand.
This is a time when the brand starts to reinvent itself. The brand identifies that its target has shifted and if it is not able to evolve it will perish. This is a time when very traditional and conservative brands such as a Rolls Royce or a Breguet or a Mont Blanc recognises the immense potential of the youth and remodels its brand to come up with sporty and more youthful versions of their products.
Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
This is the stage of the death of the old brand and the birth of a new brand. The second life of the brand.
“I'm like a phoenix. I rise from the ashes.”
Let your quest for luxury continue.