The world’s best luxury brands are often ones that are called timeless. In fact, to be called timeless is probably the highest compliment you could give a luxury brand. When you think of Hermès, Louis Vuitton and Chanel, you think not of what their latest collection was but instead of its iconic products that somehow manage to represent all of their values in one breath.
For Chanel, a tweed jacket; for Louis Vuitton, its Speedy bag; for Hermès, its Kelly bag. These iconic products are beloved by all generations, and what makes them stand apart is the concept of timelessness that surrounds them.
For something to be timeless, it needs to give the consumer a sense of longevity, that the purchase of this iconic product is a long-term investment, and that this item is not just for you but for the next generation, which, as we all know, is the famous tagline of one of the most timeless watch brands of all time, Patek Philippe. It applies not just to the product but also to the values of your brand or what your brand stands for.
And in today's day and age, where an increasing amount of consumer attention is focused on sustainability, the idea of timeless, durable products (which can be even eventually resold as pre-owned items) becomes even more valuable to luxury brands and more relevant and desirable to their customers.
But timelessness is not a given. Just because something has been around for a long time, it doesn’t mean it’s timeless. It certainly does not mean that a brand needs to remain trapped in time, forced to relive a particular journey repeatedly. It is not a static journey but a dynamic one.
Take, for example, Louis Vuitton’s second collaboration with contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama. Its ongoing promotional activities around the partnership, which has seen its storefronts around the world redesigned with an explosion of colourful polka dots as well as larger-than-life sized figures of Kusama, is a masterclass in how to refresh your communication and marketing around your brand and product.
In doing this collaboration a second time around, no less, Louis Vuitton has shown how to innovate and bring new concepts, enriching the content that it creates and, most importantly, keeping the brand relevant for today’s consumers.
And this applies to new products too. If you look at Ferrari, which is an innovator in its industry. Everything that it launches as a new model of car is launched with the ambition of becoming timeless, to stay forever. Likewise with Cartier, its new collections are designed not just for today but with a view to being timeless in the future.
Of course, there are brands that, over time, have not evolved their product collections or communications. We see many of these. But the ones who succeed, the brands that have been able to communicate timelessness over a period of time through refreshing their messaging, their brand ambassadors, and even the meanings or the values behind what their brand stands for, those are the ones that are in it for the long haul.
And to be timeless doesn’t always mean you need to be a heritage brand with 100 years of history. Though there is no denying it probably helps in many cases. Brands can also reinvent themselves to be timeless. They can rejuvenate themselves, and this process can work extremely well.
If you look at Saint Laurent, or Celine, these brands have reinvented themselves to be timeless through a new totally direction. Nowadays, no one is talking about the rejuvenation of Celine or Saint Laurent because after the brands were reinvented, they were able to keep building up their timelessness through their evolution.
Timelessness is about how a brand evolves and keeps its relevancy with multiple generations. And the magic of timelessness means you have some great advantages because it means you have more pricing power; you are more of a top-of-mind brand, which in turn will help you better navigate the volatility of market demand because if you’re timeless, you are considered more of an investment piece, and people will buy you more consistently.
Ultimately, it’s about creating, reinventing and keeping yourself relevant.