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Human touch, applied: 5 ways to approach it on your brand
From the hands of artisans to the presence of salespeople, brands have a selection of tools to weave the human touch into different phases of their journey.
One of the most profound differences between mass and premium brands when compared to luxury brands is the emphasis on the highly qualified professionals behind them. Luxury is not bought for a practical and simple need, but for stronger emotional stimuli—it goes beyond consuming: it's about relationships, connection, and a sense of belonging.
At every touchpoint, whether it's from the beginning of the creation of a product to its final delivery, an opportunity emerges for a brand to convey such feelings with authenticity and care. Yet, the true magic doesn't arise from integrating these touches, but skillfully communicating them, ensuring that the human connection resonates with the audience. It's a celebration of the people that infuses life into products, the personalized gestures that turn transactions into enduring relationships, and the diverse strategies through which brands nourish these bonds.
Join us as we delve into the different approaches that brands can take to embrace the human touch.
1. Creative Director
Comparable to a conductor guiding a symphony, a creative director shapes the visual narrative that unfolds before the audience. A creative director's choices, from color palettes to visual motifs, influence how a brand is perceived, infusing it with a distinct personality. When buying something with that in mind, customers feel that they are taking a small part of the creator's body of work. Almost like patrons of that specific person and aesthetics.
Phoebe Philo's tenure at Céline exemplifies this influence, as her designs redefined contemporary elegance. Her approach resonated with a new generation, blending practicality with luxury, and cemented Céline as a trendsetter. Meanwhile, Giorgio Armani's visionary leadership at his eponymous brand, Armani, has consistently been linked with a timeless style. Armani's mastery of tailoring, coupled with his innovative use of fabrics, revolutionized menswear and brought relaxed elegance to women's fashion, illustrating the enduring impact of a skilled creative director.
2. Collaborative Project
The collaborative endeavors between designers and manufacturers often result in projects that transcend their individual capabilities. By merging creative vision with technical expertise, exceptional outcomes are achieved. Thus, the idea is to buy the expertise of not just one, but several specialists who have joined forces to create something extraordinary, which would only be possible with such a combination of talents.
Charles and Ray Eames' partnership with Herman Miller resulted in iconic furniture designs that blended form and function. Their Eames Lounge Chair became a symbol of mid-century modern design. The Campana brothers' collaboration with Alessi introduced playful and imaginative homeware pieces that celebrate Brazilian creativity. Gaetano Pesce's collaboration with Bottega Veneta led to avant-garde handbag designs that pushed boundaries. Pininfarina's design work for prestigious automakers like Ferrari, Aston Martin, and Maserati combined elegance and performance, while Philippe Starck's collaboration with Kartell produced furniture and objects that epitomized the zeitgeist.
It lies at the heart of luxury brands like Hermès and Chanel, where skilled artisans create products of exceptional quality. The dedication, precision, and artistry of these craftspeople infuse each item with a unique character and story. The human touch in craftsmanship ensures that every product carries the soul of the brand, making it more than just an object, but a work of art. The final product or service is the result of years of iteration informed by the experience of the hands-on specialist.
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The distinct touch of artisans is showcased in Hermès products like the Birkin and Kelly bags, where the initials of the craftsman responsible for each item are discreetly inscribed. Chanel's dedication to craftsmanship extends to its specialized ateliers—Lemarié for feathers, Maison Michel for hats, Lesage for embroidery, Atelier Montex for sequins, Goossens for jewelry, and Ateliers Lognon for pleating.
Beyond fashion, Mercedes AMG's handcrafted engines exemplify precision engineering, and the partnership between Leica and Hermès has given rise to exclusive camera designs that fuse craftsmanship with photography.
4. Assembly or Shipping Person (Curatorship Market or Multi-brand)
In the landscape of curated marketplaces, the role of assembly or shipping persons is vital. They curate selections, ensuring items are thoughtfully grouped and packaged. The attention to detail and consideration in presenting products contribute to an overall experience that extends beyond the individual items.
Matches, formerly known as MatchesFashion, curates an assortment of luxury fashion from global designers, delivering a personalized shopping experience. Conceito ê brings together innovative design pieces, creating a platform for emerging talents. Lush, a pioneer in ethical cosmetics, emphasizes handmade products, fostering a connection between producers and consumers. Le Labo, known for its artisanal fragrances, offers a distinct retail experience by hand-blending scents upon purchase, making every bottle unique.
The in-store experience holds immense potential for human touch. Personalized interactions between customers and salespeople create connections that extend beyond transactions. Handwritten notes or gestures like a salesperson's recommendation based on the customer's preferences demonstrate genuine care and elevate the shopping experience.
Glossier, a brand born to make beauty uncomplicated, extends this personalization by incorporating customers' names into packaging, creating a sense of intimacy. Le Labo's approach involves freshly blending fragrances in-store, underscoring the brand's commitment to individuality and sensory exploration.
There are multiple ways to apply the human touch to a brand. Here, we've summarized five approaches based on a luxury strategy:
Assembly or Shipping Person
At the intersection of art, savoir-faire, and sales, lies a dynamic interplay that shapes the world of design and luxury. Artistic vision fuels creative directors, guiding the evolution of brands. Savoir-faire, deeply rooted in craftsmanship, propels luxury brands like Hermès and Chanel, where skilled artisans craft creations of enduring value. Sales and direct interactions, whether through personalized notes or immersive experiences like Glossier and Le Labo, bridge the gap between creators and consumers, infusing commerce with a human touch.
Together, these elements orchestrate a symphony of creativity, expertise, and connection.
Ísis M. W. Brennan
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