Quiet Luxury: The Rise of Subtlety in Branding

TT What's Hot Article Image Quiet Luxury 5.24

Today’s branding shift is less ’out with the old, in with the new’ and more ’out with the loud, in with the quiet.’ Loud, flashy, and trendy branding is on the downswing, and a new trend is coming in its place: quiet luxury.

Initially defined as a trend in the fashion world, the idea of quiet luxury has quickly spread to all areas of consumer goods and into marketing itself. The idea is simple: instead of bold branding and trend-switching, focus on subtler touches, exceptional quality, and a customer-centric experience.


Why Choose Quiet Luxury?

Styles change rapidly, but subtler designs and high quality are forever. In today’s marketplace, roiled by economic uncertainty and driven by a current of caution, customers think less about making bold statements or keeping up with fast-changing trends and more about what suits them personally. Quiet luxury ties in with several significant shifts in today’s consumer marketplace, including sustainability, customer-centric experiences, and longevity.

Sustainability may be one of the strongest appeals of quiet luxury. This approach focuses on lower quantities of higher-quality items, which can stay ’in style’ for longer and be more robust than their fast, trendy counterparts. Today’s consumers are more concerned than ever with sustainability and environmental impact. Claims of products with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) have seen noticeable growth, and consumers report being willing to spend more on more sustainable and responsible products.[1]

Quiet luxury leans into this, focusing on timeless designs, sustainable processes, and quality materials that will last, rather than fast, cheap products likely to wind up in a landfill all too soon.

As the drive for more personalization and customer- centric experiences continues to drive strategies, it’s no wonder that quiet luxury connects so well with marketers and customers alike. Trends are fun, but they’re flash-in-the-pan experiences and not a way to build a long-term customer relationship. Similarly, loud branding is about the brand rather than the customer or product. The theory behind loud branding is that there’s a certain status to be conferred by being a visible customer of a particular brand (plus, brands benefit from turning customers into ’walking billboards’). Today, however, that can be perceived as somewhat gauche, and customers are less willing to essentially pay for the privilege of freely advertising a brand.

Instead, quiet luxury is about the little touches that make the customer experience more personal, putting the customers, rather than the brand name, front and center. When customers feel like VIPs and when products are thoughtfully designed to meet their needs, they keep coming back for more. Quiet luxury is about consistency and quality, and in today’s economic market, when people are cautious about spending, those traits can be critical if you want to stand out.


Incorporating Quiet Luxury into Your Marketing

Quiet luxury starts with the products themselves, but it can also become an underlying principle of your marketing and communications strategy. Consider its application to two key areas: design and materials.

As mentioned, loud, bold, brand-heavy designs have fallen somewhat out of favor. What was once perceived as signaling status is now more often perceived as ’trying too hard’ or simply being ’tacky.’ When designing marketing materials, including print pieces, emails, digital ads, large-format graphics, or promotional products, designers who keep quiet luxury in mind will consider subtler designs that put customers and their needs first.

Similarly, quiet luxury can shine in your choice of materials. Elegant paper selections and printing processes for print pieces or high-quality materials used in promotional products can elevate your brand and convey a sense of thoughtfulness and care to your customers and prospects. Considering these details indicates that you will apply that same care toward your primary offerings and customer experiences. Adding options like customization – especially in elements like corporate gifting – pushes that even further, highlighting that you’re more interested in long-term success than hopping on trend bandwagons.

It can be tempting for brands to lean into trends at every turn. However, the subtle, quality-based approach of quiet luxury may be more effective when cultivating long-term customer relationships. It’s a way of demonstrating that you’re thinking about the future, not just this moment, and that’s a powerful tool for attracting and retaining customers.

[1] “Consumers care about sustainability—and back it up with their wallets.” McKinsey & Company, 6 February 2023, https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/consumer-packaged-goods/our-insights/consumers-care-about-sustainability-and-back-it-up-with-their-wallets