What are premium luxury brands, and how can your business become one?
Updated: May 12
Premium brands never aim to please everyone. They exist to serve a specific, well-defined audience—and they place those people in an exclusive club where not everyone is invited. In this article you will learn:
Why do you think there are certain people who are willing to spend $136K on a Land Rover Defender SUV, when they could easily buy a Hyundai Venue SUV for $25K? Is it purely based on quality? Not necessarily. It's because Land Rover is a premium luxury brand that cultivates it's image as a global trekker, to set itself apart from the herd of grocery hauling SUVs like the Hyundai Venue.
So what made us write an article about premium brands? Well we create brands for subject-matter experts (we’re talking lawyers, financial advisors, urban planners etc.). These experts charge a premium for their consulting services, and so they want to attract the eyes of high-paying clients who are willing to pay top-dollar for their services. The number one request we get from clients is this:
I want a brand for my business that is 'premium', polished', 'high-end', 'pristine' and 'established'. Make it ooze 'luxury' and scream 'money!' .
Unfortunately, creating a premium brand is not as easy as just slapping a gold-foil stamped logo, a bespoke typeface, elegant color palette, or an upscale website design. It’s not just good enough to ‘look’ premium. You need to sound & act premium as well.
A premium brand needs to have 6 of the following attributes that ignite the imagination of your excusive customers, to show that you are indeed a premium brand.
The 6 Attributes of Premium Brands:
1. They are Mysterious
These are the kind of brands that draws us in deeper over time. We are intrigued to learn it's back story. Witness in the above print ad, how the Land Rover cultivates the image of a global trekker by photographing the vehicle on the outskirts of Vatican city. Extremely minimalistic - no features, no product demonstration, no prices. While mainstream brands often use scenarios of everyday people to paint precise pictures of how their products fit into the lives of consumers; premium brands are about leaving room for the consumer to imagine themselves using the product. For premium brands, the selling happens in the consumers' imagination, not in the product demonstration. This is further amplified by the tagline, "Land Rover: Above and Beyond."
2. They are Sensual
It arouses our senses, and feels indulgent. It is an experience. We want to touch it we enjoy looking at it. Think about Steve Jobs' obsession on how an iPhone should feel in your hand. While it's competitors like BlackBerry fought over inventing the best keyboards for the mobile phone, Steve Jobs announced the iPhone with the touchscreen display. Thus living up to the Apple promise, "Think Different".
3. They are Rare
It represents a discerning choice - intriguing because it's uncommon. Patek Philippe is one of the world’s top luxury watch brands and does a really good job at cultivating rarity. The Patek Philippe Worldtimer Guilloché pictured about is ultra-rare —one of only four in existence. Maybe why it sells for $5.5 million dollars. In fact, only two versions of the timepiece have ever appeared at a auction.
4. They are Confident
These brands project a feeling of intrinsic worth. Burberry didn't ask permission to transcend it's classic trench coat. It confidently asserted it's plaid pattern on a wide portfolio of products (including sneakers & streetwear), and dared us to question it's right to do so.
5. They are Authentic
It knows it's "true north" and remains committed to this ideal. Ritz Carlton's premium experience is a direct result of it's mission statement - "ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen". With this simple ethic, the hotel's employees know exactly the business they are in, and how they should serve customers.
It's consistent and shows obsessive attention to detail. Tiffany understands the premium cues conveyed by a detail as simple as a white bow on a blue box.
Now you may be asking, well this is all great for products - but what if I run a service based business that charges a premium for my consulting services - like a law-firm, or a Financial Advisor. How do I create a brand that positions my business as being premium?
Here are 5 Steps to creating a premium brand for your service-based business
1. CHARGE HIGHER PRICES
There is perception that higher prices means also better and higher-quality of service. In a lot of cases, this is true. Especially if you run a premium service-based business, like our client Legacy Life Project. They create high-end video biographies & mini-documentaries. However, before we did their branding, they were charging fairly low prices, and were being seen as a commodity. When you ask for low prices, why should anyone think that what you have to offer is premium? So we told them to double / triple their prices, and created for them a brand identity design & messaging that appeals to a higher echelon of premium customers, who are more discerning, and value the craft, and attention to detail that goes into creating a high-end video.
2. CREATE A PREMIUM WEBSITE
Your website is one of the first places your potential clients look. And you don't want to ruin their first impression. Invest into a premium looking website, and make sure that your customers perceive you the way you want.
3. USE HIGH-END BRAND VISUALS
The visual elements of your brand paint a picture
of the experience your clients can expect from you. Just like your website, having a logo, brochure, business cards, interior design etc. that suits your offering are very important when you want to be perceived as a premium brand.
4. PROJECT QUALITY & CONFIDENCE
Your business (service, products, tone & voice) must be exceptional. Without that, you can't have a premium brand. No Discount / BOGO Sales. Be confident. Only have a few options your clients can choose from. Cheaper brands offer countless options. By only having a few options, you get to focus on them and provide very high value. Remember, quality over quantity.
5. CONSISTENCY IN ALL THINGS
Consistency is the reason why unboxing a new Apple
product feels like Christmas, even on a Monday morning in July. Consistency builds trust—and trust earns brand loyalty. When your customers know they can consistently expect quality, they’re more likely to wait—and pay—for it. Premium brands are thoughtfully personalized to provide high-value and high-quality at every touchpoint
A Premium brand is a one-of-a-kind brand that commands higher rates, and better clients. However, asking for higher prices doesn't help when your product sucks. Or having a fancy looking website, when your customers services is below par - is not going to help you differentiate as a premium brand. Everything needs to work together.
Hi, I'm Denny Kurien. I'm the Creative Director & Co-Founder of Toronto branding studio, Rayvn Design. We build brands for subject-matter experts, so they can turn expertise into profit, and attract high paying clients.
My goal through my blog is to clarify and simplify the elusive idea of "branding," and share practical tips and tangible steps to help businesses find their unique brand voice, and help them attract their ideal clients.
Our strength has always been in working directly with the founders of startups and small businesses, in helping them materialize their vision for their premium brand. If you want to elevate your service-based business, attract high-paying clients, and create a waitlist worthy brand experience, then check out our prices, and if we are within your budget — then book a 15 minute consultation with us to see if we are a good fit to work together.