Ever since I was a kid, I have loved good advertising: in print, on television commercials, and more. I used to ask to say up longer for “just one more commercial”. My parents usually agreed. Hey, it was 30 seconds and it was another “story”. I do admire the ability to tell a story in only a few seconds. I should work that into this blog, huh? 😉
Anyway, I have had the experience to enjoy, but never the resources to purchase the products of what I consider to be two perfect brands: Baccarat and Tiffany & Co., chronologically.
When I was growing up, if we wanted to go shopping, we drove two hours one way to the nearest (crappy) mall. Driving 100 miles (in two hours!) for the day is perfectly normal in Texas.
I must have inherited my love of crystal from my dad because there is no other explanation. He and my mom spent the last few years of his life looking for “finds” at flea markets. To this day, her collection of crystal candlesticks is the most impressive I’ve ever seen. None of them would blow you away, probably, but they are quite nice. No two are alike and they make an impressive statement on her mantle.
When I moved to Bryan + College Station, one of the benefits was/is that it’s only ~2 hours from Austin or Houston and only ~3 hours from Dallas or Fort Worth. Of course, this can depend on where you want to go in those cities. Still, you can do something fun that you can’t do “at home” within 2-3 hours. The Galleria shopping mall in Houston is one such example.
On a lonely end of Houston’s Galleria is the Baccarat store. Baccarat’s crystal is unlike any other. Their artistic pieces sparkle like diamonds. Their vases would show off the grandest of floral arrangements. Their flower “basket” is still a piece over which my memory drools. When you walk in the store in Houston, the showcase piece is probably fifty grand. One of my all-time favorite pieces is still listed on their site for $13K. Their ice bucket at Neiman Marcus is $650 before taxes and shipping. And we weren’t in Neiman Marcus for their “franchise” pieces; we were in their official store where they carry the better stuff.
The first time we went in, I was afraid they’d be scared of us being in the store. I respected the work and treated the place like a museum. I held my purse in my hands instead of on my shoulder and didn’t touch a thing without supervision and/or permission. I still do these things because that’s how I feel about their pieces of art.
I don’t know if it’s their sales technique or my obvious respect for their works, but each and every time Emil and I went there, we were treated as if we’d buy that fifty-thousand-dollar centerpiece to the store. Every time we went to the Galleria, I wanted to do my little “museum” stop at Baccarat. I can’t promise I’ll ever make the kind of money to own one of their pieces, but I will try.
And, for the record, Baccarat carries some small crystal pieces and tchotchkes that are reasonable. If it’s a real goal, “anyone” can own a piece of Baccarat. One of these days, I’ll splurge on one of the tiny pieces.
We are currently a one-car family. Today I needed to go to our down-South-because-he’s-worth-the-drive dentist for a cleaning. I used it to test my new membership with Car2Go to see how it might work for us as a second car for the medium-to-long term. Emil dropped me off at The Domain on his way to work next door. I hung out until I needed the car, grabbed one of the ~8 parked there, went to the dentist, and then dropped the car back off before Emil met me for an early dinner. It worked out well, and Car2Go would be perfect for us except for getting all the way to The Domain to use one. That part is a little hassle.
Perhaps the most well-known luxury brand is Tiffany. No one is unfamiliar with their work. And, they had the best early-on product placement in the world with Breakfast at Tiffany’s (and again later with another Reese Witherspoon flick Sweet Home Alabama). [Come to think of it, they had a significant presence in Legally Blonde, too. They must love Reese as much as I do!]
Today, I was stuck in blustery winds between the Car2Go parking spot and where Emil wanted to meet for supper and found myself passing Tiffany & Co.. After a brief encounter with a visitor, I popped in. While our tourist got the information she needed, I saw that I was the only “customer” among a sea of their staff members, and admitted I only wanted to see and admire the pretties. (Bored and) happy to oblige, Sherry took me around the whole store and educated me about the artists, their collections, and the Tiffany & Co. pieces. The high was something like 37 today, so I was dressed more like a homeless person than anyone who should have been shopping at The Domain, never mind at Tiffany, but I was treated like I’d plunk down any amount of money to have a pretty bobble. No mention of price was ever made (nor did I ask). When I asked if her training took her to the flagship store in NYC, she sadly wished it would. Even though she has kids, when I asked what she did for fun, she said, “try on engagement rings!” and then told me one of her techniques for showing how the Tiffany pieces are so grand.
During my adventure, I held delicate engagement rings, yellow diamond pieces, earrings, necklaces, and “memory” rings to mark special occasions. I was treated just as nice as any “real” customer. And, I learned a lot about the Tiffany product and why their craftsmanship makes it worth more money.
And, for the record, Tiffany & Co. has over a hundred gifts under $150. If it’s a real goal, “anyone” can own a Tiffany piece. I’ll add this to my list, too. One of these days.
A true “brand” is about far more than the colors and logos. Those things help potential customers identify/recognize the company, but a great brand affects people in their emotions and in their hearts. Baccarat and Tiffany both do this, for me and for a lot of other people, too.
So, what brands out there affect you with more than just a good product. Which ones make you want to be part of their family?