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Brand building: Aston Martin creates a compelling narrative

No matter how strong the history and heritage, a brand needs constant love and care to remain relevant. Branding today involves building a strong narrative around the company – it means clever and subtle storytelling. This is especially the case with luxury marques. Makers of premium vehicles increasingly need to create a world around their cars, offer experiences, a sense of individualism and rarity. Owning a luxury car means entering an exclusive club – it needs to be an immersive experience.

 

Art of Living by Aston Martin ice drive
Aston Martin offers thrilling ice drives as part of its Art of Living

 

One interesting case study to observe is Aston Martin, the luxury British carmaker with a highly alluring heritage to include possibly the most evocative brand partner James Bond. Yet even Aston Martin isn’t immune to changing patterns of consumption; and of course a wider, global clientele will naturally have different responses to history and heritage. Under the umbrella, Art of Living by Aston Martin, the company is thus exploring the world that surrounds these exotic cars ranging from art and design partnerships that share brand values, to fun and fabulous road trips to help put the cars in context.

 

Aston Martin organises exotic trips as part of its Art of Living brand extension
Aston Martin organises exotic trips as part of its Art of Living brand extension

 

We caught up with Aston Martin’s chief creative officer Marek Reichman at No. 8 Dover Street, the company’s brand experience centre in London, to find out more. He admits the experience works both ways in that these other activities also informs his work. ‘In designing our icons we need to envisage where they wound fit, helping us express who we are and what we are,’ he offers. ‘We listen to our customers. Some like to borrow our cars to take part in a Tuscan drive and our ice drives are hugely popular too.’ He recalls a recent road trip to Lapland noting that nothing quite beats seeing the cars in the beauty of this incredible landscape. ‘Our brand value of beauty is what is woven into these experiences.’

 

Jackie and Caroline on the beach in Hyannis Port in 1959 for the cover of Mark Shaw’s book on John F. Kennedys, re-released in 2000. Copyright © Mark Shaw/mptvimages.com
Jackie and daughter Caroline on the beach in Hyannis Port in 1959 for the cover of Mark Shaw’s book on John F. Kennedy. © Mark Shaw / mptvimages.com

 

The Mayfair showroom at No. 8 Dover Street acts as an ‘intersection of the company’s products, experiences and brand collaborations’. Here customers and the public have the opportunity to explore the car collection, realise the marque’s tailoring and personalisation skills, see the choice of available fabrics that can be specified for the cars.

This modest space doubles up as a gallery, there are clothes and accessories on show by the likes of Hackett – the British designer recently created a collection especially for Aston Martin. In short, this space offers an immersive brand experience away from the more traditional car showroom environment and this is certainly a trend on the rise in the car sector. Read our previous post on this subject here.

 

Henrietta Tiarks Among The Trees' sees Mark Shaw capture the Duchess of Bedford as she models a green suit by Jules François Crahay of Nina Ricci at Palais Royale, Paris 1959. Copyright © Mark Shaw/mptvimages.com
Henrietta Tiarks Among The Trees’ sees Mark Shaw capture the Duchess of Bedford as she models a green suit by Jules François Crahay of Nina Ricci at Palais Royale, Paris 1959. © Mark Shaw / mptvimages.com

 

This week No. 8 Dover Street will exhibit Mark Shaw: A Moment in Time (23 February for six months), showing rarely-seen work by the celebrated fashion and advertising photographer. Shaw took portraits of Jacqueline and John F. Kennedy; he worked with some of the most exotic stars of the 1950s and 60s including Audrey Hepburn, Brigitte Bardot, Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor and Coco Chanel.

No. 8 also offers a chance to sign up for one of Aston Martin’s driving experiences. The menu for 2017 is pretty exotic. At its pinnacle are the ‘ultimate drives’ offering an adventure spanning two continents in three weeks to include challenging drives and helicopter rides, gourmet dining and sightseeing. An alternative adrenalin-fuelled one will provide access to some of the world’s top motor races – 24 Hours of Le Mans, Goodwood Festival of Speed, an experience with brand partners Red Bull Racing at its home race in Austria.

Reichman says he is particularly impressed with the content of the new ultimate drives, ‘which truly are once-in-a-lifetime journeys. Anyone attending these experiences will get to indulge in the soul of the brand’.

Nargess Banks

Mod Party on Cruise. A hip party scene photographed by Mark Shaw for a 1962 US Lines Cruise ship advertising campaign. Copyright © Mark Shaw/mptvimages.com
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