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Book: Rethinking Prestige Branding

Leadership Articles

About the Book: Secrets of the Ueber-Brands

Why are Cirque Du Soleil or Grey Goose so successful despite breaking all the conventions of their categories?  What does Gucci's approach to marketing have in common with Nespresso's?  And why do some pay a little fortune for Renova toilet paper or Aesop detergent when those seem to have none of the 'functional superiority' conventional marketers would seek to demonstrate?

These are some of the questions branding experts Wolfgang Schaefer and JP Kuehlwein researched over the past four years, talking to an uncounted number of practitioners, theoreticians and consumers alike and analysing well over a hundred brand successes and failures in the premium-priced arena.

Their answer: Today, prestige is accrued in many more ways than it used to. Its marketing rules are in flux and it is flourishing across pretty much all tiers and categories – from a US$2 drink to multi-million dollar jewellery.

Classic notions are shattered and reshuffled and prestige branding is being slowly but unmistakably re-defined: Less traditional through pricing-up and celebrating yourself as rarified, but by evoking pride and aspiration through ideals and ideas wrapped in mythical storytelling; Less classical by building exclusivity through restraint and scarcity, but in fusing these with inclusivity and ubiquity; And less marketing-manipulated but more truth-minded, living brand-specific convictions inside out rather than making-believe with thin veneers of gold-plating.

Welcome to the age of Ueber-Brands. An emerging breed of modern prestige brands which are above and beyond their competition not only in standing and making their price premium an after-thought, but in courage and conviction. Thriving on paradoxes, breaking with long held traditions and inspiring us with commercialisation strategies that set new standards and lead the way into a new kind of marketing for the new millennium.

A must for all interested in this field, Rethinking Prestige Branding – Secrets of the Ueber-Brands is as entertaining as it is enlightening and educating – a standard in the making.

  • The most comprehensive guide on prestige and luxury brands to come out in years
  • Including well over a hundred examples, in-depth case studies and illustrations covering the most diverse industries, price points and brands from Apple and Aesop to Tate Modern and TOMS.
  • Examining many different brand building strategies and summarising the most important success factors in seven core principles
  • Providing insight into both the practical marketing of prestige brands and how consumers respond to them psychologically and emotionally
  • Helping you to understand how prestige brands seek to attract the media, analysts and consumers
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"I rarely recommend a book, especially in marketing, as I believe Market Research is obsolete. However, I was fascinated by Kuehlwein and Schaefer’s approach, and I highly encourage you to read this book." Dr. G. Clotaire Rapaille - Author of ‘The Culture Code’ and CEO & Founder of Archetype Discoveries Worldwide

About The Authors
Wolfgang Schaefer is Chief Strategic Officer at SelectNY, one of the world's leading premium brand building networks. Wolf has been building global brand strategies for over 20 years in Europe, the US and Asia Pacific for companies as diverse as PepsiCo, P&G, Unilever, Coty and Nestle. His main expertise lies in prestige brands such as Davidoff, Chopard, Swarovski, Lancaster amongst many others. Holding an MA from the University of the Arts Berlin, Wolf is co-located between NYC and Berlin and a frequent lecturer at universities and conferences in the US as well as Europe.

JP Kuehlwein is Executive Vice President at Frédéric Fekkai, a New York-based prestige salon operator and hair care brand and an Outside Director of Smith & Norbu, a luxury optical frame maker in Hong Kong. He draws on over twenty years of hands-on experience in managing brands at Procter & Gamble across markets in Europe, North America and Asia. JP holds degrees in international management and business analysis from the universities of Reutlingen (Germany), Reims (France) and Lancaster (UK) and enjoys sharing his business and branding insights with students and marketers across the globe.
Initial Reader Responses
“This book made me reflect on the Moleskine brand in a radically different way. There is much to learn from its innovative approach.” Maria Sebregondi, Co-founder Moleskine

“Rethinking Prestige Branding describes in an entertaining way today’s marketing paradigm of prestige and luxury brands. This book is an absolute must-read for any marketer working within the prestige or luxury industry.” Atissa Tadjadod, Director Global Communications Piaget (Richemont International)

"This book sets a clear compass, balancing the mystery of magic and distance with the importance of purpose, meaning and customer delivery”. Jenny Ashmore - President, Chartered Institute of Marketing, CIM, UK

"To escape price competition there are not many routes : one can adopt the luxury strategy...  Another one, seemingly related yet different, is to build brands that endow their buyers with prestige in the eyes of their tribe: based on an extensive benchmarking this book unveils the seven major clues explaining the success of these brands. This is a much welcome book for all marketing VP's.” Professor Jean-Noël Kapferer, HEC Paris, Author of "The Luxury Strategy", "Kapferer on Luxury" and "The New Strategic Brand Management"

"Thoughtful and probing, the authors expertly delve into the marketing alchemy of ‘Ueber-Brands’ beyond superficial catch-phrases and generic notions. A fresh and comprehensive work. Definitely worth the read." Deryck J van Rensburg,  President, Global Ventures, The Coca-Cola Company

“Say good bye to your tired old management books about how to market luxury brands. Rethinking Prestige Branding sets a new standard about what really matters to lead in the luxury market. Go fetch a new highlighter, it’s going to get a workout.” Joe Wheeler,  Co-author The Ownership Quotient and Managing the Customer Experience.

“This is one of the best new books to come out in recent years on the changes and elevations of branding in marketing and society today, through to their mythic aspects.  – Bravo!"
Professor Robert Kozinets,  Schulich School, York University, Toronto

“Kuehlwein and Schaefer find the rules of luxury have changed once again. This book is a great read for managers charged with building and maintaining prestige brands.”
Professor Scott Galloway, NYU Stern, Founder of Red Envelope and L2

“You have to be able to make your customer dream and love your product... The authors help professionals and people who are about our industry to dig in some of it's "secrets."
Christian Foddis, Managing Director Greater China Salvatore Ferragamo

"A compelling, enlightening and fascinating translation of the language of luxury. The authors have thoughtfully analysed and carefully defined a subject matter that has been overlooked in its significance to culture and contribution to innovation." Gwen L. Whiting and Lindsey J. Boyd, Co-Founders The Laundress

‘‘Rethinking Prestige Branding’ is very timely.  In a rapidly changing world where prestige brands are facing explosive growth and incredible challenges, Wolfgang and JP provide a framework to understand and develop "Ueber-Brands".’  Professor Srinivas K. Reddy, Academic Director, LVMH-SMU Luxury Brand Initiative, Singapore Management University

An essential and timely meditation on the nature of brands, luxury, and the relationship between ownership and identity. The authors have given us a book that reflects deeply on the interconnectedness of material culture and the most ethereal aspects of human nature. An unlikely and very rewarding investigation into core human values.

Dr. David LaRocca, director of documentary “Brunello Cucinelli: A New Philosophy of Clothes” Author of “Emerson’s English Traits” and the “Natural History of Metaphor”

"I have been involved in brand equity building for more than 20 years. I found “Rethinking Prestige Branding” to be insightful and enjoyable, practical and at the same time conversational. Schaefer and Kuehlwein share important principles of Ueber branding illustrated with a wide array of case studies, brand stories and industry insights sparking imagination –  for everyone interested in brands and in delivering sustainable business success."Inge Heinsius, International Strategy and Marketing Expert, former CMO Godiva

“A thoroughly enjoyable read. The well researched and insightful principles provide a new framework to define prestige branding in the socially connected landscape. In a world where creating an aspiration brand is more about high values than high value and demands a connection to the consumers mindset versus their wallet,.”  John Goodwin, Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President Business Enabling, LEGO
“I enjoyed reading the book because the authors do not restrict themselves to luxury brands but explain concepts from multiple and varied industries. They have chosen carefully companies which are not only well-known but are making news in their respective industries and categories.” Professor Ashok Som, Founding Director, ESSEC-IIMA Global Management Program on Luxury and Retail

“Rethinking Prestige Branding" provides a thorough understanding of the often paradoxical rules for successful premium brand management.  This book presents a complete and information-packed resource covering every aspect of this mythical sector.”
Professor Christiane Beyerhaus, Program Director Global Brand and Fashion Management, International School of Management (ISM), Germany

“As these authors demonstrate, anyone can be everything to everyone but to become a seductive Ueber-Brand, nothing is as volatile as a dream.” Patrick Hanlon, CEO ‘Thinktopia’, Author of “The Social Code” and “Primal Branding”

“With this book and the "Ueber-Brand" concept we are all stimulated to put a new energy to our brands as conditions for success in the contemporary world. Easy reading and not only academic but rich of real examples of success”. Fabrizio Penta de Peppo, Professor  of ‘Luxury Marketing Management’, Instituto Europeo di Design

"Consumers today expect so much more from brands than just the physical product. Particularly premium products need to wrap service, meaning, and engagement around an authentic consumer experience, and digital and social media open up a canvass of possibilities. This book inspires our thinking about the possibilities at so many levels.” 
Pete Blackshaw, Global Head of Digital, Nestle and

"In a world of disparate alternatives, consumers are choosing to express themselves with brand choices that reflect their values.  Kuehlwein and Schaefer expertly navigate these waters to enable the architects of prestige brands." Andy England, Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer MillerCoors

"It’s often said that luxury brands follow their own rule book. That those who master it are a breed far apart from the annals of academia, brand keys and value propositions. For the most part that holds true. But after reading 'Rethinking Prestige Branding, I dare say that even luxury’s rule book has been radically rewritten with this engaging and provocative treatise. It dovetails succinctly with the evolution of luxury marks I've had the pleasure (and pain) of leading."  Uwe Ellinghaus, Chief Marketing Officer Cadillac, (previously lead Montblanc and BMW marketing)

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