How to Build a Premium Brand

A brand is only considered premium when we believe it is worth the price we are paying for it. So, why are we willing to pay more for a product when there are others that provide the same product or service at a lesser price?

Think of it this way, it’s very similar to the list of qualities we desire in a romantic partner. We want him or her to be; attractive, sensual, trustworthy, we want them to have integrity, confidence and a certain sense of uniqueness so they’re aligned with our own deep desires. This is the complexity of the human phyche and why it’s vital to understand what motivates customers decisions.

As a serial entrepreneur, I’ve learnt over the span of multiple businesses that customers’ insights rule you, particularly in the early stages. When we know what inspires and motivates our core customers it reveals how we can connect, start conversions and attract them into what we hope will be a long and committed relationship.

Building a premium brand is a trickier undertaking during the early stages when bandwidths are stretched and the team is laser focused on testing value propositions and understanding customer acquisition metrics. But this is precisely the time to start planning what kind of brand you are trying to build – especially if it’s going to be charging a premium price.

    FACT: A premium brand receives a 20% return-on-sales versus as little as 5% for non-premium brands. (Harvard Business Review, 1997)

Here are 5 simple principles to think about as you build your brand to stand out, connect and make money.

#1: Trust is Real

Everything essentially boils down to trust, right?!

I can trust Amazon Prime to deliver my face cream the next day. I can trust Reebok’s collaboration with Alicia Keys to be rad and fashion forward. These are brands I trust. True, Amazon and Reebok are brands that have built their reputation over time, but they have always delivered. Yet on those occasions when mistakes happen, we trust that these companies will honor their mistake and provide us with a positive outcome. This experience is expected from Amazon, but also from you and your start-up. It might cost you but long-term your customer satisfaction is worth more to you than validating a business objective.

Ask yourself this question: Can you deliver on your promise?

If your claim doesn’t match your result, it’s time to iterate. I’ve witnessed first hand co-founders more passionate about their “breakthrough” technology and dismissive of extensive customer feedback. And it’s not a surprise that they continue to fail, over and over.

If your plans are to jump that chasm you’ll need your repeat, loyal customers onboard to do it.

#2: What’s the Story?

Brands that command a premium price have a unique story to tell. The brand intrigues and seduces its potential customers by charming them with their story — communicating the exciting possibilities it has to offer and in turn becomes increasingly all the more desirable.

Good brand positioning occurs when there’s a strongly perceived relevant difference in the product or service offered.

7UP: The Uncola
The Perceived Relevant Difference: It’s ok to drink this one, it’s the healthier kind.
((LOL – I love marketing!!!))

#3: Invest in the Experience

Building a premium brand is a long-term investment, think of it like going to the gym, it takes consistent effort and switching up routines to see results. It can take years to build a brand but consistency and adding value to your customer’s lives will get you there faster.

Equinox is a great example of a premium brand in the gym space. They offer far more than a workout. It’s a sensory experience walking into an Equinox. The smell of eucalyptus enlivens your nasal cavity and the sound of juicers pressing organic greens makes you look forward to your post workout fuel. Equinox’s advertising is on fleck as they are able to differentiate themselves in this space. This and much more separate Equinox from the competition and garner them 40-50% more in membership fees.

    McKinsey and AT Kearny both conducted similar studies finding that a 1% increase in revenue creates, on average, 3.1% more profit. But a 1% increase in price creates 8% more profit.

In the early stages it’s hard to see the value in spending money that isn’t related to customer conversion or product development. My advice is to keep things lean and on point. And whatever you do, do it well (in excellence) and care about the design around how it works. Do spend on a graphic designer and copywriter to elevate your brands look, feel & tone once you’ve got a product-market fit. There are more affordable services like Design Hill, Canva, Fiverr, etc., that can be a great asset in the beginning and should be looked at as a brand investment not an expense.

#4: Message Integrity

You know when you finally have the “balls” to share your heart with that special person you’ve been crushing on! It’s a magical experience: one that (hopefully) brings you closer together. The same heart-centered sharing is now required in branding.

It’s important that when building a premium brand that every touch point; – marketing, advertising, sales, local affiliates, ambassadors, etc., are on-point with the integrity of the brands mission and message.

NOTE: It’s been proven that if you want your customers to remember you pick one benefit that sets you apart. You want to WOW them and also explain what you do simultaneously. It’s an art form and takes practice. It’s time consuming and take emotional intelligence to look past attachments –especially if you are the inventor of the product trying to create the message.

Noteworthy Examples:
Levis: Quality never goes out of style
Mastercard: Priceless

#5: Design + Aesthetic

This area breaks into 4 sections: Color, Font, Imagery & White Space.

A lot of the time color gets overlooked, but it is crucial very early on in the process. Color is part of the brand story. What emotion do you want your customers to experience when they look at the brand? If you are developing a clinical looking brand, chances are dark blue, ash gray, white – are going to evoke a feeling of confidence from your customers. Premium brands bring in warm colors, like gold, deep red or orange as accents. Choose a combination that symbolizes status and quality, but still reflects the core of your brand.

I like to use the KISS (keep it simple sweetheart) principal when it comes to fonts – and so do luxury brands. If you look at Chanel and Gucci they have shown their elegance and luxury through simplistic logos and clear, timeless fonts. These fonts are easy to read, exude confidence and style – this is exactly what you want your customers to see. Some of these fonts are: Helvetica, Avenir, Futura, Gills Sans, Garamond, etc.

High Quality Imagery
Customers want to see stunning imagery that provokes an emotion. A cool trend at the moment, which is a great choice if you want to create a premium brand, is large block photography. The large luxury houses adopt this strategy. Using big, provoking images to sell your brand to customers promotes a visual story that takes them on a journey and hopefully leads to a sale and brand loyalty.

Lots of White Space
Premium brands love white space because it gives way for the photography to make an impression and gives your fonts room to breathe – giving readers time to think and contemplate. Another awesome flare about white space is you can make whatever you are offering pop with color or motivating visuals.

“Get closer than ever to your customers. So close, in fact, that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.” Steve Jobs

Wishing you abundance and financial prosperity!

Nicole Alexandra
Serial Entrepreneur, Beauty-Fashion-Tech Enthusiast

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