Having a brand that appears to be overshadowed by a showier and more headline-grabbing rival can provide the inspiration to do something a bit different, if you want to get noticed.
And as global brands go, they don’t get any more attention seeking than ‘King of Handbags’, Louis Vuitton. For years, the brand has been synonymous with innovative VM and sensational window displays, whilst competitors have appeared rather staid by comparison.
Hermès obviously noticed this too because, in October, I experienced the company’s latest marketing initiative to raise the profile and awareness of its brand – at the Hilton hotel in Osaka, Japan. Entitled ‘8 Cravates’, it was more of a micro art installation and prominently located outside Hermes’ flagship boutique.
The art installation took the form of a series of bright orange interlocking cubes that visitors would walk through. Inside, was a series of imaginative displays featuring the brand’s signature range of men’s ties. These were arranged into various forms, including one as an enormous tie shape, turning a simple clothing accessory into a significant sculptural piece. Inside, patterns featuring the design themes of the ties themselves were transformed into an immersive, hypnotic graphic sound and light experience – the effect was truly mesmerising!
This showed Hermès pitching itself as a modern and ‘intelligent’ brand, with the sharp lines and techno treatment of the installation slightly at odds with what one might expect from this normally classically restrained French fashion house.
And yet, other brands could learn from this. Even the most innovative window displays are, after all, only effective for a few fleeting minutes. Hermès’ approach left a longer term imprint on the mind. It spoke to visitors at a different level, allowing time for pause, thought and reflection, letting people ‘connect’ with the brand and stop to consider what, if any, meaning it had for much longer. In creating an exhibition of sorts, it had more scope to communicate at a level of ‘feelings and perceptions’ about the brand and how it could touch consumers in other more interesting, and potentially deeper, ways.
I think it will be interesting to see whether Hermès’ new approach paid off in terms of the sale of the featured, and, if so, where the company might take this imaginative new approach next.