Our ability to review our past equals our inability to predict our future, though, can our ability to reach certain achievements in the past define what can we achieve in the future?
In order to know which are the most advanced countries, we need to take a look at the Economic Complexity Index created by the MIT that measures the amount of diverse knowledge that is grouped together for a common purpose. The greater the groups any economy has working for the same goal, the more advanced the economy.
The amount of knowledge embedded in a society however, does not depend mainly on how much knowledge each individual holds; it depends on the diversity of knowledge across individuals and on their ability to combine this knowledge, and make use of it, through complex webs of interaction.
Beauty and Complexity Created in Advanced Countries
More advanced countries are those than can create the most beautiful and complex products thanks to combining knowledge and special abilities such as ancient craftsmanship mixed with innovation and engineering. The same can be applied for any brand, but especially for luxury brands, when we consider them as a society of individuals who work together in order to achieve the same goal, and put their knowledge and abilities at the service of the brand.
The greatest database of knowledge in the world is not in the Internet, is in its people. The knowledge that is on the Internet has been placed there by the people, and certainly that sheer volume of knowledge is minimal when compared with that which people have, since what you can’t store in a database is the senses in the fingers when someone has to adjust a piece or the precision of sight, hear or smell.
If we want to know how can to define a specific brand, we must see its level of achievement, but not on the quantity part of how much it sells, or how expensive its products are, but on the qualitative part of what degree of knowledge and craftsmanship is embedded in one of its products. For example, in my view, what defines Patek Philippe is the Grandmaster Chime made specially for its 175th anniversary, for Camus it would be its Masterpiece Collection Cuvée 5.150 made for their 150th adversary and for Bulgari could be the Sapphire Sautoir or the Serpenti watch two of the main stars of their 130th anniversary.
For any brand, the vast majority of their products are done to maintain the company and support their branding, but those unique products are the ones that prove how much excellence are they able to achieve to stand apart from the rest of the brands in their specific industry.
The amount of knowledge needed to create these masterpieces is unique to this luxury brands and defines their degree of achievement, not only in the past, but also in the future.
The Culture of Excellence and Meta-luxury
Rebecca Robins and Manfredi Ricca, both directors at Interbrand (the most important branding consultancy in the world) for EMEA-Latam and Italy respectively, created in 2012 the concept of Meta-Luxury in order to redefine the blurred and spoiled concept of luxury, or even better, to define luxury beyond luxury in their book Meta-Luxury: Brands and the Culture of Excellence. They defined the four pillars needed to achieve excellence: craftsmanship, focus, history and rarity. They defined Meta-luxury as an enterprise paradigm based on the pursuit of knowledge, purpose and timelessness, ultimately embodied in a unique achievement.
As we all know, in the process of valuing a brand we must take into account both the tangible part of the company (assets), and the intangible part of the brand (brand equity). Brand equity includes terms like loyalty, awareness and perceived quality, all of them related to customers and their intention to buy. But there is no indicator in a brand valuation that contains how much craftsmanship, focus, history and rarity is within the brand’s people or products.
Thanks to the excellent contribution of Rebecca Robins and Manfredi Ricca to clarify the world of luxury brands, we can be ambitious and think: What if we could have a Meta-Luxury Index that could measure how complex is the knowledge within a brand or within a product?This Meta-Luxury Index could serve as a reference, not only to review the prices of luxury products, but of the brand itself.
The more complex the process of innovation, designing and production, the higher the Meta-luxury Index.
This Index could be used as a marketing tool for companies to position themselves and help customers differentiate one brand from another by the content of knowledge within the products they’re buying. Therefore, brands in the luxury industry would strive to improve their Meta-Luxury Index by investing in their culture of excellence, inspiring other industries to do so.