A more evolutionary approach to design can be much more beneficial as opposed to total revolution. US branding and marketing agency Creative Mischief recently created quite an online sensation by making 999 electronic copies of an Andy Warhol painting that they acquired, so online bidders had no idea if they were getting the original or a copy. Its tactics like this that make an online splash and provide a reinterpretation of creativity.
The next aspect is knowledge, said Andjeilc. Consumers these days need to identify with brands as they want to buy into something that reflects their core beliefs and values. For example, a customer may want to know if a fur coat closely resembled the one Marilyn Monroe wore during a shoot on Some Like It Hot or if it was from a 1970s London punk rock scene. All of this information goes a long way towards helping consumers make purchasing decisions and how much they are willing to pay for these items.
Aesthetics are another component that is a core competitive advantage in the modern aspirational economy, continued Andjelic. Even mundane product categories could be elevated in the marketplace through great packaging. “Visual culture on steroids” is fuelling the modern branding mantra these days.
The point is that ordinary objects could be turned into works of art, and the works of Abloh are a perfect example of that. Other signature moves that have built up a cult following include the Bored Ape Yacht Club, Tesla Tequila and even the Jordan line of Nike shoes. “An aesthetic point of view” is key to the success of a brand in the modern marketplace, as the polarising nature of their products create engagement and nuances that are good for growth, she said.
Curation is also important for brands to have a curatorial point of view, continued Andjelic. Basically, curation can give a point of view in terms of repackaging the past and sending it into the future, wrapping itself around a specific filter and showing off its newness to the masses. Ultimately, these strategies by brands ensure that the dialogue with consumers focuses on cultural nuances and editorial point of views that can create engagement with a difference.
The best example of a successful tightknit community this sneakerheads lining up in Soho in New York for the latest pair of sneakers – it is all about a sense of belonging that covers aspects of ownership experience, bonding, advocacy and loyalty, explained Andjelic. These sneakerheads are not lining up just so that they can flip the items and make some money, they’re there because of the sheer pleasure of being in the select group. By being a part of this community, they get to hear about the latest product offerings and so on.
Brands like Samsung and Patagonia have gone to great lengths to create communities that are aligned with the passion of their target markets. They create events and maven assembly communities that ensure consumers build a relationship and sense of belonging towards the brand. All of this will contribute to organic growth.
The second part of the presentation focused on the five “currencies” of an aspirational economy: image, past, membership, collectible and taste. To put it succinctly, most brands focus on visual imagery to conjure up heritage to entice people to buy from them, by creating curated collections that are unique for the discerning consumer. From brands like Ralph Lauren that evoke preppy East Coast vibes to the French maisons like Hermes, Chanel and Louis Vuitton with rich heritage, these branding elements are immersive in nature.
Collaborative collections that feature designers like Kanye West, Abloh and Pharell Williams are a reflection of cultural influences that resonate with the target audiences.
“Different currency creates different markets and different marketing, design, merchandising and sales,” explained Andjelic.
Organisations will have to also think about thorough internal reorganisation from supply chains to distribution sales and marketing to merchandising too.
“We will need to change in how we think about talent, who we hire, who we work with and what we do with our employee base,” she said.
At the end of the day, brands need to think more broadly about the structure and processes of their organisations and decide what is best for them. There will be a need to have a more holistic approach towards the economic, social and cultural footprint of their influence in the marketplace.