Battle of the Luxury Brands

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Luxury brands used to be individual entities, but more and more of them seem to be owned by luxury conglomerates. For example, LVMH is owner of Donna Karan, Givenchy, Fendi and of course Louis Vuitton, in addition to a large number of non-fashion brands such as Hennessy and Dom Perignon. A new brand has joined the LVMH fold: Hermes, one-fifth of which is now owned by the corporation.

Hermes is owned mainly by different descendants of the founder, and these relatives were not happy when they found out that the luxury giant now had the largest single share of their family brand. They responded by combining their stock into one “package” so they would retain the majority of the company. However, LVMH seems determined to gain some power over the Hermes company and indeed has been slowly adding to their stock over years.

We don’t really understand the fine points of haute couture business practices (or the fine points of haute couture for that matter), but the ‘battle’ between LVMH and Hermes is interesting because it involves two well-known and competing brands: Louis Vuitton, the flagship brand of LVMH, and Hermes.

Which brand wins? From a business standpoint, it is hard to tell. From a branding standpoint, however, it is easy to evaluate the similarities and differences. Louis Vuitton’s logo design is nothing short of iconic. It simply has the company initials in a simple font with serifs, the L slightly angled to match the angle of the V. The name of the company is written in thin, rounded letters below.

The Hermes logo design has the name of the company in square letters that have a classical Greek feeling. Above the name of the company is the image of a Duc carriage and a horse with a tiny horseman. Because the company began as an upscale harness maker, this is definitely relevant to the past. The Hermes logo has traditionally been seen in a muted orange colour, which certainly sets it apart in the black and white fashion world.

It is difficult to declare a winner between these two logo designs. Both are seen worn by the elite in the UK; both are recognizable and relevant to the brand. However, if we had to declare a winner, it would be Louis Vuitton. The image is so timeless and basic that most lovers of fine leather goods can spot it across a crowded airport terminal. It may not have the history of the Hermes logo design, but it is more relevant to the present and future of the company.

This is not to say that LVMH will be successful in their slow and steady takeover of the Hermes brand—especially not with the heirs fighting so valiantly to retain control. However, it seems to be the strongest brand between the two, judging from visual identities alone.

If your brand strong enough to stand up against the huge multinational competitors out there? This is a question that UK business owners must ask themselves occasionally. After all, in the real business world it is “battle of the brands” every day.