Because they’re worth it

All brands must give consumers a reason to believe – a justification for choosing them over and above the alternative, but many brands go a step further, defining themselves as premium. Premium brands want to be seen as a step up from their competitors; costing a bit more, but offering something special. The big question is, what do brands have to do to command that worthmore perception? What are the implicit and explicit benefits that a brand must offer in order to build that value?

We’ve identified four focus areas that we believe are critical to building a premium brand;

Have an aspirational image for your archetypal user/consumer: When someone pays more for a brand it is because they believe that in some way, they are becoming that person that they imagine; the successful businessman with the designer watch, the stylish fashionista with the right handbag, or the ethical and conscientious parent buying organic baby food. If consumers can clearly envisage, and admire, the person the brand is for, then they will want to buy into that.

Be clear where you come from: Successful premium brands have a story; the history of their origins, and/or a clear association with a geographical place, that adds to their overall image and allows the consumer to buy into those ideals. It legitimises the shopper’s decision to buy, as they can play back (to themselves, or others) the brand story as a justification for paying more.

Deliver a great brand experience: Even with a strong brand identity, if the reality of the brand does not deliver, success will be short lived. Premium food and drink must taste consistently good, premium clothing must be well made, premium services must offer perfect customer experience every time. Some premium brands have made the mistake of cutting corners in the process to increase returns, but this inevitably backfires.

Consider accessibility: One of the greatest tensions for a premium brand is to achieve the right balance of exclusivity vs. availability. On the whole, brands want to achieve growth, however there is a risk of becoming so accessible that it is no longer aspirational. Brands typically manage this through being selective about distribution, and/or having pricing at a premium to competitors. The challenge is identifying where the tipping point lies, and how far the brand can grow whilst maintaining desirability. Understanding more about the strength of the brand’s equity, and the drivers of its appeal can help to identify where this threshold may lie.