Category Archives: 4 – Behold! – The product as manifestation

Of course even the most prestigious of brands are nothing without their product. No style will survive in the long run without substance. Yet, Super Premium products need to be more than tangible proof. They also need to represent the intangible. They are never just useful objects to hold and handle; They are manifestations to behold, evidence of their own myth to be revered. To deliver on this, they must be treated accordingly. After all it is the context that makes the king. This is especially true for the brand’s icons – think of a 911, a No.5 or a Birkin. While these may not be the ‘best sellers’, they certainly epitomize the brand. Consequently, they need to be put on a pedestal and not be promoted: Why else wear gloves to take a handbag out from under the counter? These heroes also need to be constantly re-evaluated and potentially updated – if ever so gently and carefully – to continuously re-assert their currency, to be and become Musts, again and again. Only if these products are respected, treated and polished as the icons they must be will the brand have the power to shine.

Recap
– Of icons, heroes and halos
– The must for musts and the need for pedestals
– Foresight vs insights

Here are Posts and Podcasts on this principle:

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How Trader Joe’s Makes Food Stuff Magic – of ‘Speculoos Butter’ and a ‘Fearless Flyer’

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I had one of those ‘Eureka’ insights the other day when I saw the latest Trader Joe’s ‘Fearless Flyer’ on our kitchen table: Trader Joe’s has made a great business out of morphing their foods into ‘Significant Objects’ that we … Continue reading

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Making Slow Fashion Grow – Interview with Raleigh Denim Workshop co-founder Victor Lytvinenko

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Victor and his wife Sarah are in love with making jeans the old, slow way in their Raleigh Denim Workshop. They sewed them themselves and proudly signed every pair when they started out in 2007.  But in the meantime, they … Continue reading

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Nespresso – the ‘Crema’ de la Crème

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Rogue researchers at Nestlé had tinkered around with the coffee capsule and brewing technology that was to become Nespresso since the 1970s. At that time, Nestlé dominated the soluble category, but that category was stagnating. It took Nestlé over a … Continue reading

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Cadillac – Resuscitation without Nostalgia nor Provocation? – Interview with Uwe Ellinghaus, CMO

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Uwe Ellinghaus is CMO of Cadillac and on a mission to revive this icon of American luxury. But rather than starting with automobiles, his vision of Cadillac is one of “an experience that young people associate with modern luxury, … of a brand that … Continue reading

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Juicing Up Business: Joe & The Juice’s Sexy Brotherhood

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“Yeah, but how ‘live a dream’ when the product is ‘generic’?  I am not in Luxury, Lifestyle or Fashion!” That’s how some clients respond when we talk about giving their brand meaning beyond the material.  –  Well, how about a ‘juice bar’ that feels like it stole Abercrombie … Continue reading

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Vanguard Investments – From ‘Folly’ to Fiduciary Giant

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As we work with clients on elevating their brands two questions arise repeatedly:  Can ‘ueber-branding’ be applied to more ‘technical’ categories – beyond luxury or lifestyle?  And do Ueber-Brand products HAVE to be premium priced? The short answer is ‘yes’ and … Continue reading

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Burt’s Bees – Mission, Myth and a Buzzing Business – Interview with Jim Geikie, General Manager

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Yes, Burt really existed. The wild-bearded man on the brand’s logo was a documentary photographer turned beekeeper after moving from Manhattan to Maine and leaving the trappings of a rather privileged upbringing behind him to live in a converted turkey coop in the backwoods (where he … Continue reading

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Growing with Gravitas – Shang Xia, Hermès’ Chinese Offspring

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Chinese artisan brand Shang Xia is a good example of a brand mastering two key ingredients to build a modern prestige brand: A strong sense of mission and the patience to grow with gravitas. The brand also showcases parent company Hermès’ genius … Continue reading

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Profit and/or Purpose? – Interview with Venture Capitalist and Social Activist David Batstone

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David Batstone is not one to be easily typecast.  As you learn more about David you might get a bit perplexed not only by the uncounted, very public projects in which he plays a leading role or the multitude of positions he holds but … Continue reading

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Patagonia – The Activist Company – Interview with Vincent Stanley, Director of Philosophy

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Patagonia is the quintessential Ueber-Brand. This brand is fascinating and we have written extensively about what we think drives and sustains its success in our latest book as well as on this blog.  But it is quite another thing to hear it … Continue reading

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A Freitag Visit – Manufacturing as Manifestation of Mission

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Freitag is a Swiss bag, accessory and – most recently – fashion brand. Its legend begins in 1993, when young brothers and design students Markus and Daniel Freitag looked out of their apartment window in the Zurich suburbs and into a … Continue reading

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Audemars Piguet – Adversity and Complications Make a Brand – Interview with Tim Sayler, CMO

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Audemars Piguet is up there, even in the already elevated world of ‘haute horlogerie’ and the Swiss Alps.  Le Brassus in the high valley of Joux is the birthplace and still the place of hand-crafting AP watches as Tim Sayler, … Continue reading

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Secrets of the Ueber-Brands

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Why do some pay a relative fortune for a MINI car, Renova toilet paper or a skin cream and detergent from Aesop when those seem to have none of the ‘functional superiority’ conventional marketers would seek to demonstrate? Why were … Continue reading

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Lakrids – A Liquorice Brand To Long For – Interview with Peter Husted Sylvest, Director of Sales

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If you are familiar with the ‘Hero’s Journey’ as described by Joseph Campbell, then the trials and tribulations Johan Buelow went through to concoct and share the perfect batch of liquorice – and create a thriving company on the way – will sound mighty familiar.  It … Continue reading

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Patagonia – A Meaningful Exploration of Nature

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Most of us associate Patagonia with the rugged, southernmost tip of America and/or with a brand of colorful, high-tech, high quality (and  somewhat high priced) outdoor clothes one would wear to explore that place.  And most of us have at least a feeling … Continue reading

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Seedlip: Beyond Making Teetotaling Totally Trendy – Interview with Ben Branson, Founder

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What do if you like cocktail parties or ‘having a drink with the mates’ but not the alcohol that usually goes with them? Ben Branson often felt silly, sometimes socially stigmatized with his glass of (sugary) water, juice or ‘mocktail’ in hand – who … Continue reading

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Shinola: From Shining Shoes to Lifestyle Star – Interview with Bridget Russo, CMO

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One of the founders commented ‘You don’t know shxx from Shinola!‘ during a meeting – This is how an American saying lead to the rebirth of the formerly popular shoe polish it is referring to … at least according to Bridget Russo, CMO Shinola who shared … Continue reading

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Renova: Toilet Paper to live, love and style with, also. – Podcast with Paulo Pereira Da Silva, CEO – #07

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“If toilet paper can make you happy… Why not? Life is hard enough! …” – In this podcast episode we muse with Paulo Pereira Da Silva, CEO of the Renova about how he has transformed this long-standing Portuguese tissue maker … Continue reading

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Johnnie Walker: Appeal at $1 and $1,000 a sip, alike. – Interview with Matteo Fantacchiotti, Diageo – Podcast Episode 06

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In this episode we talk to Matteo Fantacchiotti, Global Vice President, Diageo Luxury Division in Singapore. Diageo calls their high-end liquors the ‘Reserve Brands.’ These brands have grown well above category average and well past the previous segment leader in the … Continue reading

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Chipotle – The Genius and Power of Naïveté – Interview with William Espey, Brand Voice Lead Chipotle Mexican Grill – Podcast Episode 05

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In this episode we talk to William Espey, Brand Voice Lead at Chipotle Mexican Grill, the booming ‘casual food’ restaurant chain sought out by most for offering hearty burritos at a relatively low price*, admired by many for being an advocate for … Continue reading

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Storied Seltzer Service – Interview with Brooklyn Seltzer Boy Alex Gomberg – Podcast Episode 03

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For this episode of the Ueberbrands Podcast we went all the way to the end of the L-train line on the New York subway system; to Canarsie in southeast Brooklyn to visit one of the last seltzer filling factories in the US. … Continue reading

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The Draw of Bespoke and Subtle Sophistication – Benoit Ams, Smith & Norbu

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In this inaugural episode we talk to Benoit Ams, founder, owner, designer …. Renaissance Man extraordinaire at Smith & Norbu, a brand that offers tailor-made, subtly branded eye-wear for sophisticated clients. The Smith & Norbu optical frames are made from yak horn, which Benoit … Continue reading

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The Wolf: A new Ueber-Spirit in the making?

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There’s a new German player in the super-high-end distillery market: The Wolf. The Wolf calls itself a ‘Weissbrand’ (white brandy) since it is made from grapes, like cognac or other brandies. But it is steel-container and not barrel-aged, which explains … Continue reading

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How can Beauty Brand Hopes and Dreams hold up in front of the Digital Mirror?

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“Beauty is hope. It’s about our dreams and aspirations. Yet, as with everything, digital has made reality creep up on it big time. Where beauty brands, especially prestige ones, once fancied themselves as hovering above the fray in a realm … Continue reading

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Rethinking Prestige Branding – Secrets of the ‘Ueber-Brands’

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After some 4 years, 75+ interviews, 150 cases studied and uncounted conversations Wolf Schaefer and JP Kuehlwein are proud to present their latest book ‘Rethinking Prestige Branding – Secrets of the Ueber-Brands’ (Kogan Page Publishing).  You can order it online (links below) … Continue reading

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The Mini – Underdog makes Űberbrand

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The Mini is a runaway success by most measures – except size, maybe.  Who would have thought that this quirky, tiny car could carve out significant market share, again, when most other brands were talking size, comfort or power? And … Continue reading

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The Promise of ‘Bespoke’ – How Űberbrands go beyond ‘choice’ to create identity and extract a premium.

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Bespoke is the new luxury – Again. Many consider Chanel the height of luxury. So it is telling to hear Chanel marketers talk about ‘bespoke’ as the ultimate form of luxury today. They are not the only ones to recognize … Continue reading

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Le Cronut – Making a bastard doughnut an object of desire.

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If you live in New York City – or anywhere else hip – you will likely have heard about the ‘Cronut’ by now.  Maybe you have even lined-up to try to get one – or a maximum two.  Cronuts have … Continue reading

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CSR 2.0: The Rise of a New Functionalism in Brand Building

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I’m always the first to argue the importance of emotion, execution and style when it comes to Super Premium brands (see my post “Fashion Forward“). But it’s the fusion and careful balance of both, appearance and essence, that does the … Continue reading

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Message In A Bottle – Of legend-telling Soymilk and Bottling the Hermès legend

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This is a tale of two bottles.  A bottle of soy milk that stands out and tells a story and a bottle of perfume that inserts itself into the saga that is Hermès.  Both have in common that the stories … Continue reading

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When Product Creation becomes Brand Legend

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I visited Lego in Billund the other day.  I should say “I made a trip to Legoland, the ‘real’ land of Lego.” For this small town in rural Denmark not only hosts one of the namesake amusement parks (and a Lego-hotel, … Continue reading

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Aesop – Fabled Brand, Fabulous Marketing

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 – the Australian boutique Beauty Care brand founded in 1987 – intuitively masters the art of “class branding”.  It is a perfect case to illustrate key principles that – when lived by – can lift  a brand above the masses.  Of course their … Continue reading

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Beauty & Truth

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Usually I’m a big believer in the innate connection between beauty and what we call truth, i.e. something that resonates within our soul. Last night however that belief got a bit of a damper. I watched Anna Karenina, the new … Continue reading

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Hoshinoya Resorts – Host to a Myth and to those on a Quest

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We met the Marketing Manager of Hoshino Resorts last week at a meeting in Tokyo. She gave us a vivid account of the marketing and business model behind the unique, Japanese luxury resort and spa brand – Hoshinoya.  But most … Continue reading

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How to create a Looooonging for Doughnuts

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A shop called “The Doughnut Vault” in Chicago has made it a habit to close their doors early when they run out of their sweet treats, as springwise.com reports.  Apparently it happens almost every day.  So why don’t they increase production … Continue reading

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Cire Trudon – Leveraging History to Create Myth and Meaning

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The candle brand Cire Trudon (Trudon Wax) provides a wonderful illustration of how an extensive history is transformed into a rich heritage and the creation of myth and meaning that the acquirer of these exquisite luxury candles can take home and dissipate – quite literally. … Continue reading

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Attention to Detail – Good But Not Enough

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I bought a pair of Jeans the other day while New York City.  I wasn’t really planning on it and I had never heard of the brand before – Tokyo Five.  They just caught my eye while checking out a … Continue reading

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Warhol – At the Edge Between Mass and Class

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The most frequent or observant of our readers might have noticed our pop art theme and Andy Warhol himself popping in and out of our header art.  “What has that got to do with ‘moving brands from mass to class?’, you might ask. … Continue reading

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Le Pain Quotidien – Attention to Detail in Manifesting the Brand

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Seth Godin shared an observation in his Blog “All Marketers Are Liars” the other day.  Visiting a Le Pain Quotidien bakery, he noted that panels on the doors said “Pull” in multiple languages.  He smartly concludes that he wasn’t witnessing a … Continue reading

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