June 2nd marks the crowning achievement for one of the world’s most celebrated and recognizable luxury brand: Queen Elizabeth II celebrates 60 years on the throne.
The grandeur of 2011’s royal wedding may have elevated American interest in the British monarchy to fascination, but it is the Diamond Jubilee that demonstrates the true staying power of the royal brand. Despite rapidly changing times and a handful of widely-publicized controversies, Queen Elizabeth II has navigated the royal brand with near impeccable strategy. Looking back at the 60 years since her coronation offers insights into how luxury brands in today’s market can respond to the challenges they currently face.
Exclusivity v. Accessibility
Today’s consumers are accustomed to instant accessibility. That’s all well and good, unless you are a luxury brand built entirely on the premise of exclusivity. As a result, luxury brands are faced with a daunting balancing act: engage with consumers while maintaining exclusivity.
While a relatively new challenge for other luxury brands, this dichotomy has been a constant hurdle for British monarchs throughout history. Few have handled it with as much success as Queen Elizabeth II. So what’s her strategy?
1. Manage the conversation: While the Queen has never granted an interview with the press, she is no stranger to making herself visible. Under her reign, the monarchy has made regular televised addresses and even adopted official social media channels.
2. Stay on brand: Although proactive in adopting new means of communication with her public, the Queen has remained unwaveringly consistent with her brand identity. She may be highly visible, but she is anything but accessible in the traditional sense.
There’s no denying that the luxury market has changed. Just a few years ago, ultra-luxury brands were rarely seen advertised outside of the glossy pages of a select few lifestyle magazines. That’s all they needed, and it worked well for them. They didn’t need to market their story. It was already known.
Consumers are constantly evolving at a faster rate than ever before, and, more importantly, they expect their luxury brands to keep up the pace. How can a brand built on history and tradition adopt modern elements without completely abandoning its identity?
1. Embrace history but don’t lean on it: There is no doubt that the Queen’s role is deeply rooted in history. Instead of abandoning it, she continues to weave the past into the present, making her heritage as much a part of her story as her legacy.
2. Don’t just change, evolve: Even looking at the past decade alone, it is impossible to ignore the changes that have taken place in Buckingham Palace. Instead of jarring, however, these changes have been natural extensions of the age in which we live.
So there you have it. One of the oldest institutions in the world and its still got some lessons to teach.