by: Idris Mootee

Since
we have great momentum on the debate on this subject, this is the
perfect time to introduce next week's module - Managing Luxury Brand.
The topic of "Brand Meaning"
is particularly relevant in this industry and so we can carry on our
debate and see these ideas through the lens of luxury brands. This has
always been one of my favorite subjects and one of my most populars
among my keynotes.

The
natural evolution of all luxury concepts is from class to mass and it
started to accelerate 8 years ago. Although the very definition of what
is a "luxury" brand is open for debate, I believe that it's being
expanded. Luxury is first adopted by the affluent and wealthy and
inevitably translated and reinterpreted down to the mass market. So
today's luxuries become tomorrow's necessities. Luxury marketers need
to stay out in front of the luxury consumers, discovering new and
different ways to give expression to the luxury consumers' desires. New
technology creates new luxury needs and business opportunities, such as
HD-TVs, iPhones and other electronic gadgets. Changes in fashion, too,
are a way to continually reinvent luxury, so today's colored diamonds
are hot. But to assure the greatest long-term success luxury marketers
need to connect with the luxury consumers' inner-emotional lives and
create new products and services to meet those needs.

Meaning1Bear
with me here. There's another way to explain what's happening is that
the imbalance in our current spending patterns which perhaps may be
viewed as a market failure caused by consumption externalities: (In
English please?) Basically, in a little economics here, the fact that
greater consumption by a group of people actually imposes costs on
others. An important advantage of this explanation is that it is
grounded in the very same theoretical framework that animates the
beliefs of the most ardent defenders of the status quo. When one
family's spending decisions impose negative consequences on others,
Adam Smith's invisible hand simply cannot be expected to produce the
best overall spending pattern. The good news is that if consumption
externalities lead us to work harder thereby improving productivity,
spending more improving this consumer-driven economy, and save little
and helping the explosive growth of credit card and personal finances
companies (and the now mortgage problems), that's what it is. Brand is
a core part of any capitalist society.

Meaning2While
all these sounds good, we need to watch out for a new breed of
consumer: the middle-aged ex-yuppies who, finding himself surrounded by
too much stuff acquired over the years, decides to simplify life. Out
will go conspicuous consumption and a trophy culture. These advanced
luxury spenders will buy more ephemeral, less cluttering stuff:
fleeting, but expensive, "experiences", not
heavy goods for the home (although Wolf and Sub-Zero kitchen is still
nice and considered must-haves). This is great for those who work in
the digital space as there will be lots of opportunities to design "life cache" services ( here is a million dollar idea here) or as our friend David Armano at Critical Mass puts it, "life streams" and these life streams need to be captured and preserved in roder to create meaningful experiences.

Meaning3The most interesting concept to explore here is "Desire vs. Satisfaction".
This presentation here is about 6 years old with some minor updates
when I talked to our clients on this subject. I have presented this in
Spain, Germany, NYC, Boston and San Francisco and this is the slide
(slide 53) that my audiences find most interesting.
Brand advertising often provides gratification and recodes a commodity as a desirable psycho-ideological sign. In fact, it feeds the desire to sometimes the unobtainable.

Advertising
feeds the desire to achieve the often unobtainable unity of the self
with destabilized meanings, images that separate commodities from their
original intended use and offer the opportunity to reconstruct a self
by "purchasing meanings"
in a Do-it-yourself fashion. Desire exists in the gap between visual /
languages / symbols and the unconscious. Desire does not desire
satisfaction. To the contrary desire desires desire. Images are often
so desirable that things hardly satisfy. Humans have a natural ability
to want, desire, aspire, yearn, and long for. Any attempt to diminish
this natural desire I believe is counterproductive, frustrating, and so
improbable it borders on the impossible. Some people desire desirelessness with such a passion that it actually increases their ability to desire.
What we do we become stronger in, and these people yearn so much and so
often to have no more yearning that their ability to yearn becomes
astronomical. Postmodern consumption is inextricably linked with
aspects of sexuality, both conscious and subconscious. Desires are
being constructed through linkages between consumption and the human
body. Visuals will continue to be the most powerful tool because they
never satisfy. Calvin Klein, Diesel, Gucci and Abercrombie and Fitch
built and maintain their brands based entirely on this concept.
"Meaning" is created through continuous search for links between
identity (social) and the self.

Ask this important question: What are the unobtainables that your brands or products are based on?
Let's hear it from Bart, Andrew, George, Morgan, Sarah, Mark, Andre,
Peter, Josh, Jenny or Flavio? Also we have lots of friends visiting
this site from Critical Mass, IDEO, Ogilvy, AKQA, Blast Radius, Razor
Fish and W+K, I want to hear your views. Enjoy the weekend!

Original Post: http://mootee.typepad.com/innovation_playground/2007/09/advanced-bran-1.html

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