How to Build a Luxury Brand in the New Economy
Frye Leather Stakes Its Claim to Luxury
The Frye Company is a case study in how to build a luxury brand in the new economy
I love my Frye boots. I’ve owned a number of pairs over the years and just got a new pair from Zappos. Priced at $295 and made with rugged Frye quality leather and all tricked out with straps and buckles, I will enjoy wearing these boots for years to come. That’s why I was thrilled to learn that Frye had just opened its first branded boutique in SoHo. Coincident with that boutique opening, Frye also relaunched its website with enhanced search capability and a new look.
Frye is stepping out to create a new luxury brand based upon its ‘cowboy/girl’ western chic, one that perfectly matches the ‘zeigeist’ for authentic quality and value in the new economy where even the affluent are watching their pennies. Frye has leading-edge design covered too, as low-heeled riding boots are the look this fall.
As a brand, Frye doesn’t have to resort to marketing gimmicks like red soles to earn their luxury label. Frye delivers boots of unique and distinctive design that expressively communicate the wearer’s attitude. And that also assures that the brand has exclusivity. Frye boots are clearly not for everyone, so a person makes a statement when he or she chooses to wear Frye’s.
Frye is no upstart, with a 150- year heritage of creating leather goods in the U.S.A. Frye’s boot designs reference the past but also have an edge that propels the brand into the future. Frye stands behind its ‘made in America’ quality products by offering a two-year warranty. Frye also has an in-house refurbishing center for boots that fall outside of the warranty, but need a little TLC.
The key to Frye’s success is affordable luxury. Frye boots hit the ‘premium’ sweet spot; higher price points than that found at mass, like Nine West, yet lower than that of exclusive designer brands. But even though Frye’s are priced under designer brands, they are super-high quality which you can wear day-in, day-out with complete confidence and very little upkeep.
New luxury brands, like Frye, need to deliver 10 key values — Use every consumer point of contact to deliver those values
Ultimately your brand is the vehicle by which you deliver a luxury experience to your customer. The brand communicates the value and values that your company and its products stand for. The Frye Company clearly understands and delivers their unique value proposition succinctly. My new book, Putting the Luxe Back in Luxury: How New Consumer Values Are Redefining the Way We Market Luxury, defines ten key attributes that luxury brands must convey. These attributes include
- Superior performance,
- Sense of place and time,
- Creative expression,
- Exclusivity and
For example, Frye’s products express responsibility through leather sourced from local farms and tanneries, while the Frye SoHo boutique conveys responsibility by using reclaimed wood paneling, recycled fixtures and antique tools. These architectural elements also encompass the attributes of heritage and place and time that are also essential for a luxury brand. Marketers must use all touch points with the consumer, from advertising, product design and materials, packaging, website and retail environment to communicate the brand’s core values, as Frye has done.
Resources to help you think in new ways about the values of your luxury brand
For those looking to delve more deeply into luxury branding, besides my book ‘Luxe,’ I also recommend BrandAbout by Andrea Syverson. Of all the many books on brands, Andrea takes a totally new and unique approach. BrandAbout gives you a practical approach to branding that includes ten practical lessons in branding with more than 40 creative homework exercises. She makes branding fun, rather than drudgery. These two books together, Putting the Luxe Back in Luxury and BrandAbout, will give you the tools you need to build a new luxury brand, like The Frye Company is doing, or reinvigorate an existing brand. My publisher, Paramount Market Publishing, is offering a discount to these two practical books for smart professionals.