Why Art is the Cornerstone
of Luxury Brands
by Paula Soito
Creation of brand depth through artistic atmosphere and philanthropy builds a storied setting for companies. It’s this carefully crafted setting that is frequently becoming the backdrop for luxury products. One that mirrors the brand message and is designed to lead patrons to form closer, stronger and more personal associations with these brands.
In a strategic move, luxury brands are making deep connections with the arts and creating authentically rooted unions that spur growth on a whole different level. And it is their deliberate employment of collaborations with artists that have helped them establish an aura of reverence and appreciation for the arts. In and of itself, it’s fantastic marketing.
The partnering is carefully and strategically planned. The two align in vision and mission to create the ambiance and the story they wish to nurture. The growth and maturation of their union will serve as a deliberately constructed timeline leading consumers to an intended conclusion.
But the joining of the world’s highest end brands with the arts isn’t at all forced. It’s a natural evolution. It is an excellent marriage between two entities that understand the meaning of bespoke production. Both have a deep understanding of quality, patience, skill and design. In essence, luxury products are the ultimate art of the retail world. Because both are creators of the pieces that help define those who own them, there is a mutual respect that can readily bond the two sides establishing their business relationship on solid, common ground.
“It takes over 800 hours until a car is ready at the end of the day and that is quite similar kind of work you see when it often comes to the art world. How long it takes to create a piece of art. And that was for us the natural fit to bring it all together.”
– Rolls-Royce chief executive officer Torsten Muller-Otvos
These joint ventures aren’t new in practice, but the landscape of the relationship has shifted. Rather than simply backing an artist the way brands began doing decades ago, they are more often partnering to co-create. Co-creation of limited edition products is becoming the cornerstone of the art and luxury union.
Some of the allure for selected artists is that they are given creative license to use the brand’s products as a canvas for their expression. Since the parameters of commissioned co-creations are typically more flexible, these commissions have resulted in some of the world’s most intriguing and highly sought after, limited pieces.
The art/luxury marriage is a splendidly perfect union strengthened by the belief systems and palette preferences of luxury brand patrons whom are also patrons of the arts.
The result isn’t merely passive acceptance by patrons either, but instead, a sort of homecoming celebration that feels more like a toast and cheers all around. And there are sales and social proof to back it up.
Overall, the marriage of equal parts quality product and art ambiance enables brands to construct the perfect powerhouse. It’s this unique method of producing elevation that is helping them secure the win and retain their place among the giants.
Perfect product design has always drawn the beauty seekers, and so it is with the arts. However, in art, the main goal is to evoke contemplation and emotion while in the other it is to stir wanton desire. Combining them builds powerful statement pieces that carry more than status. These pieces make for the most profound personal marketing.
And if sales are the byproduct of marketing, then it seems that art is a must-have ingredient today in marketing stellar luxury brands. But perfect marketing requires skilled marketing Mixology, an understanding of the customer makeup, their expectations, frame-of-mind, wants and desires. That’s why the right art form and artist are crucial.
Yet not all investments in the arts are for the purpose of tying products together with the arts.
“Beyond the level of personal taste, arts is a palpable subject for luxury maisons to communicate their messages to targeted audiences with or without a direct link to actual product sales.”
– Vivian Chen – South China Morning Post
The types of arts that luxury brands choose to join forces with vary. Here are a few of these legendary pairings:
Burberry Acoustics – Performing Arts
Rolls Royce Art Programme – Painting, Sculpture and Installations
Fondation Cartier – Design, Photography, Video Art, Fashion and more –
Gucci’s Women in Motion – Film
Prada Journal – Writing
Fondazione Prada – Architecture, Design and Film
In short, enrapturing an overwhelmed audience is the hurdle. It only happens with something magnetic, something breathtaking, something inspirational and moving. The task is not taken lightly and when accomplished, is the luxury maison’s highest honor.
Even luxury hotels have started to weave the arts into the very fibers of their business plans. The hotel named “The First Hotel” in Rome is both an art gallery and hotel. And in the book, The Management of Luxury: A Practitioner’s Handbook by Benjamin Berghaus, Günter Müller-Stewens, Sven Reinecke, the arts are directly addressed as a luxury brand strategy. They write clearly about its importance in chapters 7 & 9:
Chapter – 07: Arts meet luxury brands – Carsten Baumgarth, Nicole Lohrisch and Olga Louisa Kastner; and
Chapter – 09: Preserving luxury exclusivity through art – Claude Chailan and Ivan Valek.
As all companies strive to create uniqueness in an ever-burgeoning market of products online and off line, high-level creativity and customization remain the single most profound way to establish significance, scarcity and exclusivity.
The list of luxury brands that have forged their own highly credible art foundations is quite long. Among them are Fondation Louis Vuitton, Fondazione Prada, Gucci Museo, Fondation Cartier, Rolls Royce Art Program and many more.
Whether it’s film or music, literature or paintings, every brand’s merger with the arts is as unique as a fingerprint. It appears we’ve only just begun to see these relationships unfold. I suspect their strength and significance will grow with each passing year.