Hermes: living the brand with hands, not just head

Post by Anne Charbonneau, Managing Partner based in Amsterdam

Last Sunday morning, I took my kids to a horse stables in Amsterdam to see a great exhibition where craftsmen and women were working on leather, making jewels, drawing on silk and painting ceramics. An arts & craft fair? No. It was Hermes touring exhibition called ‘Le Festival des Métiers’. Beautiful idea. Executed impactfully. What did they do great?

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Hermes’ brand vision is all about the love of craftsman and the event was all about that this, and nothing else. Only 7 workstations with craftsmen and women showing their skills and explaining their ‘metiers’. No Hermes logos splashed everywhere. No hard selling of luxury goods. No annoying ambient music.  No reps. Only the artisans and their translator to help explain and answer questions.

The clever thing about the craftsman demonstration we saw is that it provides a reason to believe for the luxury pricing. “I’m paying for the 230 hours of craftsman work, and not just the expensive ad campaigns.”


Recently I trained a client team to embed the brand vision in their daily work and customer conversations. One of the main bits of advice we gave was to be flexible and find ways of embedding ‘bite-size’ versions of the vision in the customer experience, as opposed to spitting it all out in one go like a well rehearsed speech. The Hermes event was a great example of authentic “story showing” by people, with recurring themes such ‘time spent’ (i.e. the number of hours it took to stick a glove or paint a scarf.)


There were quite a few kids at the show, as well as people who you’d think would not necessarily spend thousands of Euros on a silk scarf. Interestingly, the experience was quite the opposite of the one you tend to get in luxury store, with a relaxing feeling of approachability (and even with kids being aloud to touch and try the tools!).  No snobbery – focussed targeting. This gives again the feeling that the love of the crafts overrides everything else. Back to the vision!


The only place I saw a Hermes logo at the event was on the back of a leather saddle or silk scarf.  The event poster is subtly branded. In a way, this low-logo strategy helps with reputation building and means that Hermes got tons of PR in the Dutch press as a legitimate and worthwhile weekend outing, even reported in Amsterdam city guide, I Amsterdam.

Last year, Hermes beat profit forecasts and had revenues up 18% year-on-year to €4.84 billion, with sales in Europe and Japan doing particularly well. Maybe the brand vision to “ keep craftsmanship alive” has something to do with this?