I recently returned from making a presentation at this year’s Business of Luxury Design (BOLD) Summit in Las Vegas. It was a great experience. I always get a lot out of these kinds of events, having the opportunity for great one-on-one conversations with designers and gaining insights from other industry experts. The BOLD Summit was no exception. It was an intense but highly fulfilling two days.
All of the speakers had valuable information to share, but what really stood out for me this time was the presentation on branding. We all know the importance of having a strong brand. In today’s message-overloaded and media-saturated market, you are just another drop in the ocean without one. Still, it’s surprising how many brands feel like clones of some marketing master plan. All the elements are there, but the personality is missing.
Think of the brands that really make a strong statement. They are not just professional; they’re personal. More than a style or an attitude, they express a vision, a commitment, a conviction to a set of principles. As I discovered, creating a strong brand starts with building out your image: Who are you? What do you stand for? What do you offer that’s unique to you? That’s your brand promise.
And then you have to act accordingly, to fulfill that promise, constantly and consistently. Everything you do – your work, how you dress, how you communicate, your surroundings – needs to reinforce your image and your brand promise. You must be your brand, and so must your firm. I think of walking into a Ralph Lauren boutique. It speaks to Old World charm and elegance: lots of wood, leather chairs, warm lighting, pictures on the walls and stuffed animals on the shelves. You know exactly what they are selling: quality, impeccable taste, classic tailoring. You can go anywhere in the world and have the same experience in any Ralph Lauren boutique. Identity. Promise. Delivery. Those are the hallmarks of a strong brand.