Luxury brands and social media. On the surface, the combination may seem as complementary as oil to water. Luxury brands strive to maintain their exclusivity and private value offering while managing to exude a certain level of mystique. Social media is about openness. Transparency and equal playing fields. So how do social media and luxury brands, two adversely different concepts by principal, work in sync?
Last week I presented to more than 200 of the world’s top designers and architects at the Design Leadership Summit in Venice, Italy and made just that case–that social media and luxury brands can make a perfect blend. This fiercely creative group of design professionals operates solely in the world of luxury brands. Their clientele includes high-profile individuals, premier product/service brands, restaurants, hotels and the like. The following two bullet points are what I stressed while presenting to the group:
Focus on Your Personal Brand
One of the biggest upsides social media can offer is the ability to grow your personal brand. These designers and architects are the brand. They’re known for their final product which is highly visual. However, the ability to share their vision behind the visual is what humanizes their brand.
Axel Vervoordt, a world-renowned art collector and dealer, creates beautiful unmatched social environments. One evening in Italy, Axel spoke about his work and inspirations. To my ears, he spoke in perfectly crafted tweets. (I took notes, on my iPhone, and actually did quote him on Twitter.) What inspires Axel is what makes his art so special. Axel is his brand and as such he has a story to tell across any medium where his audience is listening.
So did Suzanne Tucker, who has been named one of the top designers in the World by Architectural Digest. During the summit, Suzanne told us a story about how a chocolate bar served as the inspiration for the final color to finish a project. This uncovered fact added another level of humanity to the breathtaking photo she showed on screen and further connected her brand to the visual.
Social media channels are a new way to expose value to both Suzanne’s and Axel’s audiences.
Focus on Quality vs. Quantity
High volume and luxury don’t tend to mix. I recently had the opportunity to sit on a panel with Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter. One of the points Jack stressed was the importance of focusing on the quality of content you share on Twitter vs. the quantity of people who follow you on Twitter. This point resonated with the online and in-person panel audience based on the shear volume of mentions and references it received. It’s a basic, yet easily forgotten rule that applies to all types of social media outlets.
The designers and architects at the Design Leadership Summit are not trying to reach the masses. In some cases, they may want to keep their profiles private or highly isolated. Social media allows them to communicate with their niche group of colleagues, clients, prospective clients and journalists in a new way. In their world, one quality “targeted” impression can be much more beneficial than garnering millions of unqualified impressions. The key is providing value to that small targeted group.
The luxury brand industry is one that has been relatively hesitant to embrace social media. Why? Maybe because they were asking the wrong question. The question isn’t, “is social media right for my brand and industry?” Instead, the question is, “how can this new form of communication benefit my brand and industry?”
Photo gallery of Italy trip and Design Leadership Summit presentation.