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Using Glamour To Build Brands


Using Glamour To Build Brands

For many of us, glamour is embodied by timeless icons such as Jacquie O., Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly or Cary Grant. Certain brands and products also became synonymous with these icon’s glamour: Rayban’s wayfarer, James Bond’s Aston Martin and Hermes’s Kelly bag. At that time, glamour was the exclusivity of celebrities and professional photographers.

Today, smartphones and social media make it easy for just about anyone to be glamorous and tell the world about it. For most people, this means posting a glamorous picture every once in a while. The most avid social media users carefully curate and enhance each and every image they post to project a (mostly imaginary) glamorous lifestyle.

For marketers, the democratization of glamour presents an opportunity to insert their brands and products in glamorous narratives. To take advantage of this let’s take a closer look at defining glamour in the context of today’s consumer environment and explore a few best practices on how to make your brand glamorous.

Glamour Defined

To glamorize is to fantasize, says Virginia Postrel, who has written extensively about The Power Of Glamour.

Glamour is different from romanticism, whereby glamour is an end result and romanticism is a process of seduction.

Glamour is an illusion, a projection of reality that likely begins with a stylized image of an object, a person, an event or a setting. Postrel further stresses that glamour is not something you possess but something you perceived, which emerges through the interaction between object and audience.

Lenses and filters embedded in most smartphones software make it easy to create these objects and spread them throughout an audience. By liking or commenting on these objects almost immediately, the audience reinforces the glamorous aspect of these pictures. The sociologist Colin Campbell notes that people who watch glamorous pictures turn these images into daydreams, creating ‘an illusion which is known to be false but felt to be true’.

Glamour constantly reemerges in new forms as users post new pictures, enabling users to pursue emotional pleasure without ever feeling fully satisfied.

How To Make Your Brand Glamorous

I can think of two prominent bakeries in downtown Los Angeles, both baking outstanding pastries and bread. The reason why one is always packed and the other seems to struggle to stay in business is the lighting. Yes, the dim light of the latter makes it hard to take good pictures and filters and lenses almost make the pictures worse. A Gen X friend of mine confessed she went to this bakery and never went back because ‘it was impossible to stage a picture there’. If you operate in any type of brick and mortar environment, make sure your store or restaurant is well lit. Also, setup a backdrop with the name of your brand printed on it and setup a few professional lights. Invite your guests to get their picture taken in front of the backdrop; they’ll feel like a star for a minute and make themselves and your brand look glamorous on social media for the rest of the day.

The Museum Of Ice Cream: Turning A Glamorous Experience Into A Brand

Earlier on Branding Strategy Insider, I wrote about the marketing power of nostalgia. When opening The Museum of Ice Cream Maryellis Bunn and Manish Vora created a contemporary glamorous experience by combining childhood memories, indulgence and escapism in a picture-perfect environment. A simple search for the Museum of Ice Cream on Instagram will return 1,000 of pictures that fulfill the definition of glamour outlined above.

The success of the ‘museum’ was immediate. Yet it’s debatable if the space really qualifies as a museum. When considering names, the founders chose ‘museum’ because it was something people would understand. Shortly after opening in New York last summer, all tickets sold out, leaving 200,000 people on the waiting list. The same result for the Los Angeles and San Francisco locations.

Besides selling $29 entry tickets, the museum partners with brands such as Tinder and American Express, which invest $180,000 to privatize the space for a day. An obvious fit, Artisanal creameries such as McConnell’s and Coolhaus keenly associate their name with the glamorous museum by providing a free sample scoop to guests.

To sum up, glamour is more prevalent today than it has ever been since its inception in the early 1700s, as it fulfills consumers’ need for self-actualization. Technology and social media are the perfect enablers of glamour, which by definition is constantly changing. It presents a unique opportunity for brands to insert themselves in an idealized world created and controlled by consumers rather than advertisers.

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Brad Webster on November 08th, 2017 said

I’ve started following this blog just recently and have absolutely loved it. It’s refreshing to feel like I’ve connected to a like-minded tribe! I agree completely with many of the perspectives presented here, but this one in particular stirred me to comment.

While I love the ideas of glamour being presented here, my question arises about whether or not we should be moving brands to be more authentic and open in order to build long term emotional connections? But what I am hearing above are ideas to further contribute to a stylized false perception. While I am all for a little magic and fantasy to delight an audience, where do we draw the line?

It’s already a challenge for brands to cut through marketing noise and get engagement, so does perpetuating a false ideal just contribute to that? Or is there some form of mutual agreement brands can strike with their audience where both parties agree to suspend disbelief like going the the movies? We all know Superman or Star Wars is not real, so we agree to sit back and be entertained. Wondering if using that same concept with brand experiences can enchant the audience without the advertiser being called out for false promises or not delivering on brand expectation. Thoughts?

Derrick Daye on November 10th, 2017 said

Thanks for your thoughts Brad. I completely agree with you that authenticity is critical to building the emotional connections brands (and consumers) seek. But can a brand be authentic and glamorous? I think so. In my opinion what glamour does for us in the context of this piece does not move us away from authenticity, but rather “presents a unique opportunity for brands to insert themselves in an idealized world created and controlled by consumers rather than advertisers.” In this sense glamour is not a cover-up its an invitation for brand and consumer to take a step closer and share in a new way.

Back to your point — to be authentic it has to align with the central meaning of the brand. It cannot be forced.

You might like this piece — more ideas to build brands on unique platforms:


My best,


Emmanuel Probst on November 12th, 2017 said


Thank you for your comment. In light of Derrick’s input, glamour can (and should) be used to augment the emotional benefit and appeal of the brand but is not a substitute for quality, authenticity or any other foundational attributes. In my opinion, we should use some magic to delight consumers but should not mislead them about the features and functional benefits of the product.

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