Cartier’s luxurious brand properties

A fascinating interview with Cartier’s UK CEO, Arnaud Bamberger, shows the power of brand properties in the world of luxury goods (article is here, subscription needed). Mr Bamberger knows a bit about the Cartier brand, having worked there for 38 years.

1. Link to your past

I love this quote describing the importance of looking back at what made you famous, whilst staying relevant for today: “Occasionally, we adopt new technology or new techniques but the archive provides a continual thread of design and identity that weaves its way back to 1847.” 

Perhaps the most famous of these visual properties is of course the Panther. This was made famous in the 1930’s by creative director Jeanne Toussaint, who was herself called “La Panthère”, as described in a video on the Cartier website, here. Wind forward 80 years, and as Mr Bamberger says, “You can walk into any Cartier store in the world today and the Panthère is highly visible. And our advertising still features the Panthère. We have taken total ownership of this animal.”

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2. Keep things fresh

Cartier has to pull of the tricky balancing act of staying loyal to its heritage and older clients, whilst also bringing in new customers, as Mr Bamberger comments: “Our customer base is getting younger and they don’t necessarily want to emulate their parents or grandparents — they want something more modern.” Indeed, the kiss of death for any brand is focusing too much on existing customers, and failing to drive penetration to keep your user base renewed.

What I like about Cartier’s response to this challenge is not relying only on advertising but, you guessed it, working on the good old product “sausage”! Yup. Even in the rarified world of luxury goods, the product still matters. For example, Cartier launched a new Panthère ring that is angular and graphic and where your finger fits through the cat’s open mouth. Mr Hamburger eloquently explains the “fresh consistency” in the design: “It’s still the Panthère but it’s bold, aggressive even — and it’s attracting a younger customer.” This new ring has some famous fans, including Lady Gaga (below).

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3. Ending the experience on a high

It was interesting to read how Cartier apply the principle of using brand properties to end on a high, as we posted on recently here. An important part of the Cartier experience is the wrapping of the product, which involves three linked properties: the red box, the iconic wax seal with a double “C” and the red and gold ribbon. Mr Bamberger goes as far as to say, “I love seeing the pleasure in the eyes of a recipient of a Cartier gift and the ceremony of unwrapping it — it’s as important as the product inside.” During the all important Christmas season Cartier invest in dedicated gift-wrappers to ensure the experience is delivered for all customers.

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In conclusion, what a wonderful example of remembering and refreshing what made you famous, amplifying and updating your brand’s distinctive properties.

And a post just in time to inspire readers, with Valentine’s Day just round the corner.

Cartier boutique addresses can be found here