Just as we continue to be surrounded by the worst economic news most of us can even remember, extreme luxury offers are more ubiquitous than ever. Take last weekend’s edition of the Financial Times. On the cover there is a lower right corner box that advertises an FT Global Event conference titled ‘Lessons Learnt from the Financial Crisis’. The point being, we should indeed learn something. But just above the main headlines a banner reads: ‘The world’s most luxurious website HOWTOSPENDIT.COM launches today’.
The FT’s luxury lifestyle magazine ‘How to Spend It’ –aimed at the high-earners– is hardly a new concept. But the fact that it wants to go popular with a standalone website only means that FT is shifting its focus to target big-spending luxury advertisers instead of its readers. With this new tool, it will help them reach out to online and mobile marketing spheres at a price. Is this luxury? And what about the consumer?
Design –as in traditionally custom made handcrafted goods– was once a luxury item. But ever since cheap manufacturing made it possible to replicate luxury for only a few cents apiece and decentralised logistics networks could ship it around in containers at low costs, luxury has become paper-thin; a flurry of logos and two-dimensional glossy ads. It seems the only luxurious thing about it are the advertising campaigns and their budgets.
I am not an ideological opponent of the spread of mass markets and their reliance on branding for product sales. After all, this is our business. Successful communication design takes place in that two-way street where consumer communities meet their brand perception. But we cannot avoid the facts: consumer expenditure figures have been in the plunge on a global scale for eighteen months or longer and every single market is transforming. And there are two key effects of this transformation: competition and change. Only those who are highly competitive and can adapt in an insanely dynamic market will survive. And without excellent design competitiveness and adaptability cannot be reached. Excellence, rather than luxurious cover, will stimulate spending and get consumers excited.
So what constitutes excellent design? At Dot Kite, we are proud to incorporate the following adaptable, competitive principles into every single one of our assignments:
- Identity: a unique, memorable design is one that leads and sustains trends.
- Functionality: excellent design works! Obsessive attention to detail, the ability to listen and the willingness to change mark excellent design and drive consumer response.
- Appropriate environmental footprint: thinking creatively to reduce meaningless waste and energy consumption is the most gratifying aspect of an excellent design process.
- Service-minded approach: there is only one word to describe the relationship between designers and their clients and partners: Impeccable, Impeccable, Impeccable!
- Emotional bond: in an increasingly online world we cherish more and more shared moments and seek to immerse ourselves in remarkable experiences rather than ‘buy products’.
So could it be that Design is after all the most affordable luxury out there today?