Five takeaways from an evening dedicated to “Objects of Beauty”

I recently had the pleasure of moderating the event “Objects of Beauty: Achieving success with and without a legend”, hosted by the INSEAD Alumni Association Switzerland in Zurich.

This was an evening dedicated to succeeding in fine craftsmanship, with three wonderful speakers: Tim Sayler, Chief Marketing Officer at Audemars Piguet, Peter Bellerby, CEO at Bellerby & Co. and Markus Kramer, Partner at Brand Affairs AG. I was grateful for the diverse audience participation which made the evening really special, and I was delighted to hear from many about the wish for the association to host further events in this space in Zurich.

As part of this event I released some takeaway notes to the guests, which I am also now sharing with my site’s readers.

The “Objects of Beauty” speakers getting ready for the evening’s discussion

Five Takeaways from the First “Objects of Beauty” Event

  1. Be clear on purpose and be consequent about it. When creating a brand in this space, define 3-5 words that mark your purpose and remain consistent. Objects of beauty brands go beyond functional “reason to believe” or even storytelling. They cast strong, emotional, “myth building” anchors. For Audemars Piguet the purpose “to preserve the art of watchmaking in Vallée de Joux” is not only an identity linked to marketing execution, it is also tightly linked to potential innovation or technology introduction.
  2. Maintain a close, personal relationship with customers. Brands in this space do this and it impacts how their strategy has evolved over time. Bellerby & Co globemakers favors high quality in customer service and its social content quickly became focused on the “in-development” phase in the artisans’ studio. For Audemars Piguet, it influenced the development of own retail spaces and a visitor experience built around the Vallée de Joux.
  3. Be proficient, not just present, in the channels that match your purpose best. Instagram, for example, has been instrumental in building an audience for Bellerby & Co (@globemakers), while Audemars Piguet (@audemarspiguet) has built a loyal following in recent years. Both brands have very clear content strategies for each channel, and I had highlighted @globemakers here before.
  4. Value comes increasingly from “within” and “experience”, not what is strictly visible or controlled scarcity. From a practical perspective, logos will continue to “shrink” in the foreseeable future. Truly scarce, exclusive brands will be positioned to benefit the most by being associated with “sophisticated” taste and remaining true to a secondary “value reserve” factor for their customers. Mismanaging this equation is the highest risk, for example by extending the brand too widely. Both Audemarks Piguet and Bellerby favor brand depth.
  5. High end fine craftsmanship brands take “beauty” to the level of obsession and are continuously looking for innovation to differentiate and bring forward product perfection. New materials, techniques and technology are tested for fit with moving the “purpose” forward and “staying ahead” of customer expectations. Because successful high-end brands often favor “depth” over “breadth”, the pressure to innovate is very high.

If you are also interested in this space and would like to attend more business events like this in Zurich, just take a few minutes to tell me what topics you’d like to hear more about by contacting me or by answering questions 10-12 of the feedback survey here: https://goo.gl/forms/0NZHnwAkfDwmKXGK2

Looking forward to meeting you again soon at another business event in Zurich.


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