Some interior designers have a negative reaction to the word “luxury,” at least as it relates their interior design businesses.
This is always a tricky subject, I know. When most people think of luxury we immediately think of Lifestyles of the Righ & Famous ( remember that show?) but it doesn’t have to be that way. When we detach the word luxury from money, we have a new dialogue to explore and this post explores luxury from a different perspective.
I will say, however, in the world of Interior Design luxury is often linked to opulence and the reality is there’s a market for everyone. The path you choose is entirely up to you. If you see a luxury interior design firm in your future, use these suggestions as grassroots for a luxury service and build from there.
The term luxury doesn’t need to feel ostentatious. In fact, you can convey the feeling of a luxury experience without ever using the word luxury in your branding. The idea is to make each client feel like they’re getting something specialized, and give them plenty of attention in the process. Here’s more about why — and how — you can convey your interior design services as luxury experiences.
The wealthy among us might be able to afford more luxuries overall, but the fact is that people indulge in luxuries all the time, at pretty much every income level.
“Luxury” is less about the actual dollars spent and more about a mindset: One that prioritizes quality and character.
Here are what I perceive to be the main characteristics of a luxury service or product.
Luxury products and services are distinct from the rest of the products and services in their field. They look different and they feel different than average. They’re interesting. Their look appeals to a distinctive taste, and they don’t try to appeal to everyone.
This is why I suggest that interior designers cultivate their own aesthetic. Related: How to Make Your Interior Design Business Stand Out From the Crowd.
It’s usually easy enough to pay for a run-of-the-mill alternative to a luxury product. A true luxury product doesn’t aim to be “easy” to get. In fact, their scarcity may add to their appeal.
It’s more important for luxury brands get things right and do them well than to make sure they’re always available. For interior designers, this might mean pricing your services so that you can take the time to do amazing work, and resisting the urge to rush your process or overfill your schedule.
When you invest in luxury, you expect your investment to cost more because it adds more value to the price.
As brand strategist Hanna Fitz writes in this column, “Luxury brands pay attention to the details. What separates most high-end brands from the mass market is that the products are high quality, at times handmade by highly-skilled artisans and even customized to meet the client’s individual expectations.”
You’re not trying to offer the one-size-fits-all design app that users can download on their phone. You offer something far beyond that, and you need to make sure your potential clients understand why.
As an interior designer, you must position yourself as the expert. You have a deep well of knowledge that informs each of your design decisions, so conduct yourself with confidence. For more on how to do this, check out my article on How to Start Standing Boldly in Your Designs.
Compared to other brands, luxury brands are all about creating an exceptional experience for the user – and their client. The service is often tailored to the user’s / client’s unique needs, and the end result is something that the user/client feels was done just for them. For example, your client might have a hectic travel schedule so you may consider weekly FaceTime calls as your regular connection points in lieu of in-person meetings.
In essence, the client isn’t just paying for the design; they’re also paying for the high-touch process that eliminates the need for them to worry about all details that come along with a space redesign.
Interior designers like you can handle the whole process for them, from measurements to vision boards to installs – and everything in between. This is a high-touch approach compared to their alternatives for interior design, but your ideal clients will be more than willing to pay for it for that reason.
People buy luxury products to make a statement. Much more than standard or “utility” purchases, luxury purchases convey a sense of how the buyer wants to live their life.
As this McKinsey piece sums up, luxury brands do well to use their ads to “tell a story” about the kind of person who invests in their product:
“Brands that effectively communicate lifestyle messages use images that tell stories beyond just their product. These can include visuals of cityscapes, leisure activities or other slices of the luxurious life. The brand’s products may be visible, but they are not necessarily the center of attention.”
For your interior design business, this could mean showing potential clients, not just the design itself, but how your clients live in the new space. See it as a transformation of sorts of their desired lifestyle. If you can get them to visualize exactly how they’ll use their new space — whether it’s entertaining guests at dinner parties or playing board games with their family — you’ll be leveraging the benefit of this lifestyle appeal.
Why Luxury Branding Improves Your Business
As you may have guessed by now, these luxury brand qualities can work for any business.
Positioning your service as unique, exclusive, high-quality, and statement-making has few drawbacks. Once you start committing your interior design business to these qualities and marketing your services with the feel of luxury, you’ll start to achieve several benefits.
- You’ll start to attract clients whose top priority is great interior design, and whose aesthetic goals are in line with your own.
- You won’t spend as much time quibbling with clients over prices and design details, because they will have come to you with the understanding that they’re paying for the best, and the prices are worth it.
- Clients won’t try to hunt around for the lowest price, because they realize that your design services are not a commodity; they are unique in the market.
Clients who understand your value and respect your time will have a positive snowball effect on the rest of your business. They’ll lower your stress levels, improve your portfolio, and save you hours of time on nitpicking their project details and costs. (For more on how to steer attention away from the big picture of your design work, check out my post on why you should ditch hourly billing.)Clients who understand your value and respect your time have a positive snowball effect on the rest of your business. Click To Tweet
You’ll also find that positioning you interior design business as a luxury service may make it easier for you to close sales. When you are able to “tell a story” about how your interior design service fits your clients’ lifestyles, the value easy for clients to grasp.
Would you like some one-on-one help re-positioning your own interior design services as a luxury? I’d love to help. I specialize in helping interior designers step into the CEO role, taking the financial side of their business just as seriously as the design side. Contact me directly to learn more about our one-on-one and small group coaching.