How to get High Net Worth Individuals to love your brand

Scott Mason, strategy director at branding and communications agency STORMBRANDS, reveals how to win over the world’s wealthiest customers
Scott Mason
A woman on a private jet

There are over 21 million high-net-worth individuals (HNWI) in the world – people who hold assets of over £1 million. And the industries that serve them, from high-end property to luxury travel and bespoke financing, all need to find the right look, feel, tone of voice and values for their brand to connect with discerning audiences.

At STORMBRANDS, our clients include niche service brands like business jet brokers Jetcraft and boutique finance providers Invicta Finance. The reality of brand-building within these close knit and word-of-mouth driven sectors is both deeply insightful and creatively challenging – far from the common perception that money is no object.   

Dig a little deeper and the ‘uber-rich’ aesthetic that has developed in popular culture, doesn’t actually reflect the realities of most ultra-wealthy people. They will probably not be chasing Instagram likes by driving their Bugatti around Monaco. Rather, their lifestyles are demanding, dynamic and time poor – creating a need for brand experiences beyond the superficial. Their significant purchases and investments usually have many layers of consideration and are handled by advisers and representatives with diverse remits. Brand identity and communications in these arenas require experience and understanding to activate the complex networks of influence around HNWIs.

Understanding the one percenters

For example, it would be easy to assume owning a business jet is a signal of status for those who can afford it. In the majority of cases it’s a logistical necessity affording time, security and geographical reach – a tool to be operated with sensitivity and discretion.   

When it comes to the customer journey for acquiring a jet, you don’t simply walk into a local showroom and buy one. How a jet is matched, sourced, operated and maintained to a customer’s requirements is a precision exercise involving many factors, with different experts engaged in different aspects of the transaction. The finance people may be more concerned with how the jet sits as an asset in their client’s portfolio, for instance, but an influential decision-maker will also be the pilot who will fly it, and they’ll be coming at the whole process with an entirely different list of priorities. Building trust and relationships across multiple stakeholders is paramount. As a brand you need a value proposition that can flex for them all.

So, any branding exercise needs to be preceded by immersion into the complex reality around HNWIs today. The price tags may be higher, but it is still about people and their needs. Interviewing diverse stakeholders and asking the right questions is key, using provocative questions to uncover truths and perceptions at a functional and emotional level, both inside a brand and with external customers. As brand strategists we map out the different audiences, their drivers and barriers to determine how brand and communications need to translate for each.

Seamless experiences feel priceless

When you invest the energy and care into understanding the landscape, defining the value proposition that underpins a brand flows intuitively. From there on, creative expression is rooted, and content is informed, creating a distinctive ‘feel’ that runs through a brand and offers a cohesive experience for different actors in the decision-making process.

Being wealthy is seen as the height of individualism, but it’s also a team endeavour. Significant purchases can be complex, and the people that steer decisions along the way are not likely to have their heads turned by glamour without substance. Communications need to deliver the right information at the right time, through the right channels within a reassuring simplicity and focus.  

Because HNWIs tend to have access to more options, service brands need to create quietly captivating strategies to gain their approval, catering to the end user and the and the trusted advisors and support staff who take care of their affairs. The personal touch matters. On-line and in IRL a tailored approach to audience engagement helps create an experience you can’t buy elsewhere. Sure, the brand might be shiny and polished, but like a business jet, the thousands of connected parts beneath the surface are what make it fly.

Written by
Scott Mason
Written by
April 30, 2024