For luxury brands, print design is always going to be one of the most brilliantly effective mediums to deliver exceptional brand cues. When compared to digital, print design delivers in ways that the latter simply can’t. Digital isn’t going anywhere, we all know that. From a branding point of view it provides a (usually) necessary consumer/audience touchpoint. But when it comes to conveying the subtle qualities of taste and authority, print is simply miles ahead.
Luxury branding requires a visceral, emotional connection with consumers that everyday brands are incapable of. These ‘everydayers’, particularly those with ‘premium’ monikers, will often shout from the rooftops that they are the ceiling point of their sector, the loftiest perch for their segment (think of the majority of the perfume, car and fashion house advertising out there).
In comparison, real luxury brands have to carefully select a few privileged people and provide them with a view from Mount Everest. So no matter what they do or show in digital – a beautiful film, striking imagery, amazing interactivity – they’ll always be using a set platform available to everyone and used for everything. The ability to flick from facebook, to emails, to banking, see a luxury brand advertising on a newspaper’s site before going back to facebook again, will always diminish the strength of the connection that brand can make, no matter how dazzling the creative. Mount Everest comes that little bit shorter, the view a little less exclusive.
Even if you change that user journey to encounter an amazing brand microsite, a seamless Instagram feed or a twitter-hashtag-something-or-other, the problem is the same: the internet’s ubiquity harms luxury brands’ exclusivity.
Particularly harmful, is the assumption that social media is an essential part of the luxury branding toolkit. We’re not sorry to say, this is simply not true. Even for the ‘everydayers’, popular thought on this seems to be turning (here’s an excellent article in the FT by Ian Leslie).
For real luxury brands, print design provides far more control over their extraordinary quality and exclusivity, by both setting the context and dictating the terms of the connection with the audience. Imagine picking up something that is so skilfully made and beautifully finished that you don’t want to put it down. Something that is extraordinary to look at and hold in your hands.
We love these sorts of exceptional print projects and are lucky to work on them with clients who make a conscious effort to make their brands look and feel peerless. We are all tactile consumers and at the elite level of branding this is particularly prescient. Luxury brands must communicate with their audience through a variety of senses, in the same way Michelin starred chefs feed the eyes as well as the palate.
So here’s to the brands that don’t want to appeal to everyone, all of the time. Who want to carefully select to both whom they speak and when they do so. And want to make modern, stunning creations using the oldest medium in the book.
The digital age is here to stay (but long live print).