With an increasing year after year Brand Value of $25,9 Billion, Louis Vuitton is the luxury brand with the highest Value according to Millward Brown rankings (http://millwardbrown.com/BrandZ/Top_100_Global_Brands/Categories/Luxury.aspx) and it is one of the most valued brands worldwide.
Today, practically anyone is able to recognize its monogram, and it has become a synonym of luxury, leather and bags. Its parent company –the biggest in the luxury goods market-, LVMH, did €8.7 billion in leather goods sales in 2011 -impressive data in a financial crisis context, but where millions of millionaires in Asia are addicted to luxury brands.
Regarding communications and marketing, Louis Vuitton has been clear, audacious, fresh and flexible, exploring all the channels available. Collaborations with artists and celebrities, spectacular events, digital marketing, powerful and carefully planned ATL campaigns etc etc etc…
Conventional and elegant print pieces by photographer Annie Leibovitz portraying Angelina Jolie in Cambodia or Sean Connery in Bahamas are the beginning of a larger action plan taking first the concept of the Journey as an exotic voyage, to make it evolve, in a second time, into a deep existential related one (take a look at http://www.louisvuittonjourneys.com/thegreatest/en_E1/index.php?page=about to explore the relation between the brand and its current muse, Muhammed Ali).
Actually, one of the values of Louis Vuitton is represented by “The Spirit of Travel” (http://www.louisvuitton.com/front/#/eng_US/Journeys-section/La-Maison/The-Spirit-of-Travel) where, trough a beautiful short web film, the brand proposes its own definition of Journey:
“It’s not a trip. It’s not a discovery. It’s a process of self-discovery. Does the person create the journey or does the journey create the person”.
Interesting. LV is inviting us to be part of a philosophic thought and experience, that includes, implied, the utilitarian purpose of the object (a necessary complement to any journey), and relating the brand to a strategy focused in the personalization and the individual –characteristic of the premium marketing-.
In the other hand, events seem also to be a very effective way to communicate this brand experience. Actually, last year I was invited to the opening of the exhibition “Voyage en Capitale” at the Carnavalet Museum. I admit first I didn’t know what to expect, I figured it was an exhibition showing some recent collection of brown bags and suitcases. However, I was positive impressed by the effort to communicate brand values and history. I also really appreciated the explanation of the creation of the monograms.
“Voyage en Capitale”, at Musée Carnavalet
“Louis Vuitton Voyges” exhibition in China (http://bluliving.com/louis-vuitton-exhibition-in-china)
Louis Vuitton has created its own universe with a series of codes and elements allowing to transfer it to any media or communication channel.
The brand allows itself to play with its own universe elements through collaboration with artists. This gives a balanced image between tradition and innovation, between an existent brand code and the freedom of creativity. This allows also to reach a larger audience via less conventional (for a luxury brand) channels as social media for example. (We shouldn’t forget that Louis Vuitton is the symbol of aspirational brands par excellence!)
Actually, on youtube, LV digital marketing team arranged a film contest, the “Journeys Awards”, demonstrating the understanding of the importance of building relationships, and being able to humanize its exclusive signature.
Finally, as an anecdote, I’d like to “video-quote” a film by Wes Anderson (I’m a huge fan) and one of its main characters: some big printed suit cases. Yes, those appearing in “Darjeeling Limited” are custom made by the french “maison”.
In short we can say that Louis Vuitton masters its communication in a coherent way, adopting “The Journey” as a fil conducteur naturally as its product is per-se associated to the theme. But also, that the idea of a journey as a trip goes beyond when giving it a deeper approach, to transport us to the brand’s own world, to a full experience with a spectacular capacity of innovation and experimentation inside the codes the brand has build for itself.
Results? Just get back to the beginning of the post, where we talked about the value of the brand : it is THE luxury brand par excellence, and one of the most powerfull brands (all sectors taken together). Not a coincidence.