Category Archives: 2 – Longing vs Belonging – The challenge is both

One of the key objectives in marketing is reach: Reaching as many people as possible to win the biggest number of customers. When it comes to Super Premium brands it is not as simple. Of course, the goal remains: Maximizing your business. But to build and protect the brand’s equity, you have to carefully balance inclusiveness with exclusivity – staying slightly out of reach, while growing the same. Most Super Premium brands thus follow a top-down approach: They first foster relationships with a small base of taste-makers and trend-setters within their category. From this they grow gradually, leveraging their original fans both, as continuous proof of their superiority and desirability as well as missionaries to help them target and convert the broader market. Of course, for this it is crucial to always stay anchored in the top through ‘elite’ programs or simply and ultimately by remaining ahead of the curve – think of Red Bull’s latest dive from the skies. You can never cease to inspire the leaders if you want the rest of us to aspire. You must continue to move up and on (like Armani Privée) while becoming more and more available and approachable (AX Exchange, Armani Jeans) to ensure you always keep some longing in the belonging.

– A different way of targeting: Attract disciples first, then attack more broadly
– Grooming missionaries to convert fans and grow a cult into a movement

Here are Posts and Podcasts on this principle:


Haven’s Kitchen: About Sharing Life Skills and Sauces – Alison Cayne, Founder

This gallery contains 4 photos.

Alison Cayne, Founder of Haven’s Kitchen, a cooking school and packaged food purveyor in New York tells us how her brand is made for ‘hustlers’ like her. This story is about a purpose-led and disciplined approach to brand- and business building, sans the ‘unicorn’ glazing. Continue reading

Gallery | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Platform Businesses Should be Ueber-Brands – A discussion with Erich Joachimsthaler – Part I

This gallery contains 3 photos.

Traditional firms feel the heat from the exploding businesses of platforms and look to become one themselves. Platform businesses are all about participation and should be about positive relationships – desirable ingredients for strong brand equity. However, many platform brands are not used because we like or respect them. How can traditional brands get into the business of platforms and how can one get platform branding right? JP had a discussion on the subject with Erich Joachimsthaler at Vivaldi Group. Continue reading

Gallery | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Questions To Answer: How Balance Longing and Belonging?

This gallery contains 1 photo.

How leverage people’s desire for inclusiveness and community while at the same time create a sense of exclusivity?  Create some tension that makes people long to belong?  It is a balancing act that brand owners need to master if they want to be about more than ‘price and performance’. Continue reading

Gallery | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Rethinking Prestige Branding – A 10 Minute Q&A

This gallery contains 1 photo.

The expert Book review site ‘getabstract’ gave us a pretty rare 8 of 10 rating and felt compelled to interview us about modern Prestige branding afterwards.  We (humbly) thought our answers are well worth sharing with our readers, too… and … Continue reading

Gallery | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Brand Built On ‘Less’? – Interview with Brandless co-founder Tina Sharkey

This gallery contains 5 photos.

‘Brandless’ is the only ‘brand’ you can buy at the eponymous e-grocer that carries the same name.  As co-founder Tina Sharkey explains, young ‘Brandless’ is not about the absence of identity or meaning and being a brand in that sense. … Continue reading

Gallery | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vanguard Investments – From ‘Folly’ to Fiduciary Giant

This gallery contains 5 photos.

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

Gallery | Leave a comment

The Tesla Tease: Exclusivity through Complicity

This gallery contains 4 photos.

Prestige brands don’t have it easy. We don’t want them to sell to us (in fact, they should ‘un-sell‘), but we love for them to seduce us. They must make us desire them, not just need them, for only then might we be willing to … Continue reading

Gallery | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Growing with Gravitas – Shang Xia, Hermès’ Chinese Offspring

This gallery contains 6 photos.

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

Gallery | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

This gallery contains 5 photos.

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

Gallery | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Secrets of the Ueber-Brands

This gallery contains 1 photo.

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

Gallery | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Patagonia – A Meaningful Exploration of Nature

This gallery contains 13 photos.

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

Gallery | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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

This gallery contains 4 photos.

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

Gallery | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Brand Ueber-Targets and How We Want To Be Like Them

This gallery contains 5 photos.

When it comes to defining our lifestyle or declaring our values, we need other people for orientation, as benchmarks or to listen to us and care – or it will not be a satisfying exercise.  We usually have some ideal state or person(s) we aspire … Continue reading

Gallery | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Building a Brand on Bricks and Beliefs – Brunello Cucinelli – Podcast Episode 02

This gallery contains 2 photos.

We are discussing Brunello Cucinelli, the ‘Cashmere King’ and his eponymous brand with David LaRocca author, film maker and scholar of philosophy. David, like us, has been fascinated by Brunello, who says he is guided by the great historic thinkers … Continue reading

Gallery | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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

This gallery contains 1 photo.

“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

Gallery | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

This gallery contains 3 photos.

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

Gallery | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 49 Comments

The Mini – Underdog makes Űberbrand

This gallery contains 11 photos.

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

Gallery | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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

This gallery contains 13 photos.

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

Gallery | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How Premium Brands Grow Without Losing Their Glow – Part I

This gallery contains 20 photos.

Marketing “guru” Martin Lindstrom is concerned about the effects that ‘reaching-down’ and the ‘fashionization’ of Luxury labels has on their long-term ability to maintain desirability and premium price points. He writes in his piece “The Luxury Catch 22”  “With a … Continue reading

Gallery | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fashion Forward

This gallery contains 1 photo.

In the world of marketing, fashion has traditionally not been taken very seriously. It’s been viewed as un-strategic, driven more by short-term fads and personal quirks and hunches than solid planning and strategic thinking. Concerned more with ever-changing appearances than … Continue reading

Gallery | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Aesop – Fabled Brand, Fabulous Marketing

This gallery contains 28 photos.

 – 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

Gallery | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

“A Case Against Fast Fashion Collaborations” or

This gallery contains 1 photo.

The Disillusionment of a Prestige Brand Believer. Eugene Rabkin is “Making The Case Against Fast Fashion Collaborations” in a popular Op-Ed on the Business of Fashion (BoF) blog.  He is joined in his criticism of the “democratization of fashion” and the “irresponsible consumer … Continue reading

Gallery | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

This gallery contains 20 photos.

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

Gallery | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Warhol – At the Edge Between Mass and Class

This gallery contains 12 photos.

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

Gallery | 3 Comments