You mentioned brand promise. First of all, how do you go about cultivating a promise and then communicating that promise to your consumer?

Again, I think that’s part of the brand DNA. As a brand is working through a brand key, which is a traditional exercise, to establish brand DNA, you’re looking at brand attributes, reasons to believe, the emotional and functional benefits. When you are working through that exercise that, typically, will also include a thought around the culture of the company. What is it that you want the company to stand for, because that then resonates with and impacts the type of people you are looking to hire?

Bottega, as an example, to join the company and through all the people I spoke to and interviewed, throughout the years, it was very important they understood that, sometimes, the thoughts or the view of how to present something to the market, how to communicate it, was not going to be the average, standard thought. Most of the time, you would have to think outside the box. Not everyone is, firstly, capable of that and, secondly, even understands what that means. A lot of the time in marketing communication, there was some very talented people, but I could tell were just not going to be the right fit, because they had very specific ideas.

For example, Tomas Maier was never interested in dressing celebrities. He wasn’t interested in celebrities. There were no influencers, as such, at the time, at the beginning. His feeling was, if a celebrity likes my product and they want to go and buy it, that’s great. I’m very flattered; it’s wonderful. But why would I give something away, or pay someone to wear something? How does that work with the statement I’ve made around timelessness, authenticity, value? What’s the value proposition if I give something to this person, just so they’ll wear it and say they’re wearing it? Then I’m asking my customer to come into my store and spend a considerable amount of money on something and then they turn around and they see celebrity X, who is wearing this today and, tomorrow, is wearing something else and it’s all very obvious. Again, it was counter to what was the considered best practice and so people who were working in the company had to really buy in to these types of rules, per se. But they were very important in building the culture of the brand and the brand promise.

It was very important to him to make the customer’s life easier. He spent a tremendous amount of time, when he was travelling, always watching the way people travelled; men, in particular. That they were running through the airport, with these briefcases that had the shoulder strap and the strap was thin and narrow and it was cutting the shoulder and cutting the tailoring of the suit. It wasn’t comfortable looking, not elegant looking and probably ruining the shoulder. So he would obsess about these details and come out with a product that was, maybe, more ergonomic, that was more functional, that looked better, that was more comfortable. That was his obsession. How do I make my customer’s lives easier? Easier, happier, better. Whether it’s when they put their hand inside the bag and they feel a suede lining. He never used fabric; he never used synthetic linings. Everything was suede on the inside, because it was very important for him what that experience was like. It’s all very private and personal, to you, but it does make your day better.

When he designed a teacup and a saucer, one of his pet peeves was, when you would go and stay at a hotel or go to a restaurant and he would rest the spoon on the saucer and it would slide down, because the way the saucer was designed, didn’t allow for the spoon to sit right. He found it annoying. Some people may not notice, and they’re probably not our customer. Those that do, totally appreciate that. So it’s all of these small details that, for him, were everything. A zipper, a lining, a strap. Again, I think the brand promise was, very much about, I will make your life better, I will offer you these very private moments, that are just for you, that make you feel better. I will not put it on sale – he thought that was the worst, when you paid full price for something and then, three months later, you see it on sale and you feel like an idiot.

I think he was, actually, quite visionary, also in the sense that he was so focused on the customer which, today, CRM, customer relation management, is for me, the leading aspect of marketing. I think anyone who doesn’t believe that, is kidding themselves. The customer, today, is in the driver’s seat. They will decide what they want, when they want it, where they want it, to the point of how they want to read about it. If you don’t take that into consideration, they’ll just block you, unsubscribe, go to another competitor. They have every choice they want. Whereas CRM, 20, 30 years ago was the little weirdos in that odd office down the hall. We didn’t quite know what they did. Today, for me, that’s my first question. What’s your CRM strategy? Do you have one? Most brands don’t. What software; is it integrated? It’s almost like when you do a renovation and you put in the HVAC; it’s a bummer, because it’s a very expensive thing to do. You put in all the pipes and the venting and no one can see it. But without it, you either have a very cold house or a very hot house. It’s not really how you want it. I think that’s so important; it’s almost like the plumbing.

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