Studio Black Tomato reports on The New Language of Luxury

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At a time when the world is so dense with messages, our language carries even more weight – with every word and story having the power to uplift and to sink the collective spirit. Studio Black Tomato’s report is a timely thought piece in partnership with Walpole looking at the dawn of a ‘new language of luxury’.

With insights from  some of the world’s leading luxury brands and writers – including the Financial Times, Belmond, Edwardian Hotels and Jessica McCormack – the report is a call to action for luxury brands to challenge what has been before, to be more creative and welcome new ways of speaking.

Below is an overview of some of the key findings from the report. Read the full piece here:

Finding new ways to join the club.

Luxury language has often been about fitting in, with buzzwords like ‘five-star’, ‘high-end’ and ‘ultra-luxurious’ acting as a password to enter the club. Whilst it’s okay for others to say our brand is the ‘best in the world’, it feels arrogant and even tone-deaf to say it about ourselves. Instead we need to look for ways of subtly communicating the elements and intangible qualities that make our brand ‘luxury’. Maybe it’s the pile of books selected for each room in a hotel, or the questions a designer asks a model when fitting a dress. There is no longer one way to enter the luxury club; it is both safe and beneficial to carve your own nuanced way.

Don’t be afraid of intimacy.

Just as with building human relationships, we grow close to others by sharing stories, secrets and opinions. Where once luxury was about creating a distance between brand and consumer with a respectful ‘sir/madam’, the new language of luxury is much more about creating intimacy – whether that be through first-person dialogue, the stories you tell, the tone you use or the platforms you use to communicate. Reveal the quirks of your character with confidence and assertion, creating room for self-deprecation and imperfection – as this is often what draws us to others.

Encourage your writers to live the lifestyle.

In our research we encountered and discussed how the third person way of writing can be as a result of people having no opinion of their own. To bring back interest and intrigue to the language of luxury, the people writing need to experience the lifestyle. If you have a restaurant in Italy for example, the writer should be there – tasting the food, smelling the wine and watching the locals that bustle past. It can be tempting to spoon feed writers, telling them what you believe to be the most interesting aspects of your brand – the pool, the chocolate dessert or the service for example. Instead, writers should be empowered to act as journalists and strangers to your brand, uncovering interesting details that you may have become blind to.

Bringing warmth into your brand.

Several interviewees expressed a discomfort with traditional notions of luxury and the idea of luxury brands being somehow separate from ‘normal life’ and popular culture, creating a coldness and distance. But the pandemic has had a levelling effect – no one is immune to its emotional, mental and physical impact. More than ever brands need to read the room with empathy, because as the FT’s Lucia Van Der Post suggests ‘you can’t have luxury without kindness’. This moral compass is increasingly becoming a new measure for the language of luxury. This not only extends to how a brand speaks to their consumer (with increasing empathy and kindness) but also how they speak to the goings on in the world.

‘Keep in touch with the world; you can’t assume you are the world’, Colleen Caslin, CEO Jessica McCormack.

If you would like to discuss your tone of voice with Mason Rose & Studio Black Tomato, get in touch to arrange a free brand consultancy session.