Labels. Logos. Branding. These are some of the key components to the day-to-day mental potage that swirls around my head. As a brand marketer, I’m constantly thinking about what brands to consider when it comes to building relationships and associations to complement the brand I represent. And working in the luxury & lifestyle space is never as easy as snapping your fingers and *poof* a brand-alignment play with Gucci appears before your eyes. It’s never that simple.
There are so many things to consider before making the appropriate brand connections, and in essence, the Guccis of the world may not necessarily be the right fit. And within that frame of thought alone comes more considerations that need to be made when determining the right brand alignments. For a “smart luxury” brand, for instance, I personally wouldn’t consider a brand partnership with the likes of Chanel, which might make sense in the world of classic luxury. Or for a classic luxury brand, I wouldn’t necessarily consider a contemporary brand like Belstaff to associate with. And while there will always be opinions as to which brands may best align, at the end of the day you always have to take a deeper dive and consider things like audience targets, business goals, and creative direction of a brand –all of which combine to play an important role in the decision making process.
Things get equally interesting when you face this same type of brand alignment dilemma outside of the office, after work computers are turned off and the mental crunching goes to rest for the night. Aligning your own personal brand with ones that truly reflect YOU can sometimes be a job in itself. For some, it can be as easy as merely “liking what you like,” and there’s nothing wrong with that. I, personally, take a slightly different approach.
I’m one of those guys who appreciates a wide spectrum of styles, and branding doesn’t necessarily move me either way. However, when it does come to choosing choice luxury pieces for my wardrobe, I don’t really find “accessible” luxury so appealing. Perhaps it’s the old school perspective of “unattainability” that adds to the overall mystery of what these types of goods represent. For some, luxury items represent a sense of accomplishment. For others, feelings of esteem. And still for some, luxury items are a type of status symbol. As I’ve matured, I’ve probably gone through these several different stages of what these things represent to me. Today, I would say that I lean more toward having a splash of luxury items in my day to day arsenal of goods not as an expression of esteem or status, but essentially as an expression of taste.
In all honesty, I enjoy things from across the spectrum of categories. On casual Fridays, for example, I am not against pairing up my Prada high-tops with my Hollister skinny jeans, and a wool sweater from Topman. Throw in a Dsquared2 wool bomber, and you’ve pretty much got one of my overall looks. This best represents who I am – a style enthusiast who likes a lot of different things, and walks the fine line between classic style and modern street sense. Put a little “edge” into a piece, and I’m all about it. What I do NOT like, however, is wearing my label(s) “on my sleeve,” if you will. I am not a logo whore by any sense of the word, and more power to those who don’t mind them. But I personally don’t find it appealing to sport products with Vuitton’s classic monogram (for example), or Chanel’s obtrusive medallion logo. (And I love both brands, so don’t get me wrong.) From my perspective, when you have lower tiered brands like Dooney & Burke or Coach sporting a similar monogramed product, or premium brands like Tory Burch capitalizing on their own medallion-like logo, the allure just gets lost in the sauce. From the authentic goods of 5th Avenue or the Champs Elysees, to the back-doors of seedy Chinatowns the world over, monogramed and logoed luxury goods are everywhere. Because of that, to me – the items feel less interesting.
That said, I have to give kudos to those who have the conviction of rocking their luxury in a more subtle way. To me, the under-the-radar simplicity of non-logoed goods speaks volumes about a person’s confidence, preferences and personal style; Bottega Venetta’s intrecciato nappa pieces or Mulberry’s Bayswater line, for example, make me sit up and notice. There’s just something more to be said about the understated elegance of luxury goods that aren’t so branded. And there’s something to say about having the ability to pair these things well with items from across the spectrum.
While logos do tend to bring a sense of security and comfort to the end user, there is a lot to say about how a branded item “speaks” to the world around it. Much like the obnoxious drunk person screaming and laughing at a bar, the leather bag peppered in logos, too, can make a person turn their head… away. But again, it all comes down to preference, and how these items make you feel.
How do you respond to luxury logo fatigue (or logo fatigue in general)? I’ve shared my POV, so would love to hear yours.