Timo Miettinen // February 29 2016

Building Royal Brands

I am obsessed with creating brand value.

Consider this when creating profitable businesses with digitalization. Selling cheap and bulk and racing to the bottom leads nowhere. Let me show with a real life example how choosing your customers can make a world of difference for your brand and your profitability.

There is something about the royalty. An electrifying presence. Extraordinary. Magnetism.

We are drawn to these social lighthouses. They are the Madonnas and Zlatans, the bourgeois kings and queens of this world. If you ever happen to meet these individuals, you know what I mean. That moment has different tension that you will remember and cherish for a long time.

I had the pleasure to accidentally witness at my work a real royal couple – the Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel of Sweden – and assist their entourage. This encounter showed me an important lesson in marketing and branding in real life – how choosing carefully your core customers can create brand desire and value. Let me share this experience with you.

This was my lesson:

I was minding my business as the marketing manager at the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, when a Swedish customer wanted some assistance. I started to help him, på svenska förstås, and he was very happy for my assistance. While I was giving him advice, I noticed that he was part of a larger entourage that included some generals and female security staff wearing Swedish military uniforms with golden emblems featuring the Tre Kronor. The situation was strange, especially as we were in the secure area at the airport.

This could only mean that somebody from the royal family was close by.

I lifted up my eyes, and noticed that the fellow next to me looked familiar. I had seen him before somewhere. That’s right, there was Prince Daniel right next to me leisurely looking for something to shop. I had been encircled by a royal entourage. Sjutton också!… if Prince Daniel was there, I started to wonder where was his spouse, the Crown Princess Victoria. Looked again, and there she was too. Dressed the same way as anybody, who would be travelling a long distant flight. No crowns. No bling-bling. Lovely, relaxed and natural. Just as you would expect from her.

The Princess and the Prince were looking eagerly for some champagne, which caught my curiosity. I wanted to see which brand and label would they choose for their Friday evening. From a distance, I followed their discussion and finally was able to see what was their choice. The aide took the bottle and ushered it to the till. The Royal couple continued their business and disappeared towards the VIP lounge.

Now this was interesting indeed. Now I knew what label the Princess chose for herself. This was a precious piece of information that I could use as a test to promote some champagne. I was curious to know how would our customers react when I would tell this story to them.

Labeling a product and making it Royal

Later the same day, I came across a customer contemplating some champagne and holding a bottle in her hand. I asked her if she would like to get a really nice recommendation? She gladly obliged. I told to her:

”H.R.H. Crown Princess Victoria recently visited us and bought some champagne. Would you like to get a royal recommendation for your champagne?”

The customer was glad to hear this and wanted to hear what I had in mind. I took her to the label that the Princess had chosen herself and presented it to the customer.

”I saw that she took this label. It seems to be fit for a Princess! Maybe you would like to give it a chance too?”

The label in question was 20% more expensive than what the customer had considered buying. After a moment, I saw from distance how she changed her mind and chose the more expensive label.

”Thank you for the tip. This will make a nice story to tell to my friends over dinner”, she said walking towards the tills, smiling.

Emotional value = brand value

In that brief moment, I addressed human curiosity and invited her to be part of something extraordinary, which resulted in a happy customer who wanted to spend 20% more for champagne. On the fly, I labeled the product verbally with an idea of ”By appointment of the royal house” and added unique emotional value to a standard product. This method of labeling is often found in many products that are granted to carry such a label officially. Just check out Barbour jackets and you will discover all three of them in the back label.

For me, this moment reminded me a very important lesson in marketing: make sure your products have magnetic key user groups, and others will follow and gladly pay a premium. Thank you Crown Princess Victoria for this lesson.

Build your core following. Show who they are. Use labeling.

So, these are the three lessons we want to keep in mind when working with our own brands:

Lesson #1: It matters who your core customers are. Pick and choose carefully the segments you want to serve. Make sure they are socially desirable for your other customers, as others will follow them.

Lesson #2: Make it clear which is the core segment that you are addressing. Communicate it visibly. Brand marketing, brand stories and product labeling are important and can drive significant value to your brand and drive up your price point.

Lesson #3: Use labeling and applicable symbols in your marketing communication to make your point obvious and intuitive.

In my follow-up article, I will show to you how a well known consumer brand, the Canada Goose, has achieved to do this in their business with a different core follower group and reached a 350% price premium for their offering compared to bulk mainstream manufacturers.

Stay tuned!

Fine, I buy your story! But what about that champagne?

Ok – here’s your weekend special! If you ended up wondering what was the champagne that ended up in the royal dinner table in Stockholm, let me share my little secret. It was this bottle of Taittinger Brut Réserve. Nothing exclusive. Nothing too fancy. Nothing extravagant. Exactly what you could expect to get a bit of extra for a Friday night. Yet something that you may want to try too next weekend?


Thank you for reading, enjoy a bubbly weekend!


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