Popular psychology simplifies the different functions of our brain hemispheres by using “left brain” to indicate analytical thinking and “right brain” to mean creativity and emotion. That may be a bit of an oversimplification, but it’s a useful shorthand. In The Luxury Strategy, authors J. N. Kapferer and V. Bastien emphasize the need for a management team that has both characteristics.
Succeeding in luxury requires you to be both highly creative and imaginative (right cerebral hemisphere) and highly rigorous (left cerebral hemisphere). Of course, each of us has two cerebral hemispheres but one is always dominant. Unlike classic industry (left-brain), where it is often initially one person who creates an empire alone, or art (right-brain), where it is always an individual, success in luxury is achieved at a minimum through a tandem of left-brain and right-brain with neither dominating the other; each has its own territory.
The partnership formed by Pierre Berge and Yves Saint Laurent is a famous one, like the association between Tom Ford and Domenico di Sole. In fact, all luxury brands originate with a couple, and the brand can be considered their child. The creator-manager tandem is a characteristic of luxury.
The authors cite Pierre Cardin as an example of a failed luxury brand and blame Cardin’s solitary approach; even with his great talent, managing the brand himself didn’t allow it to maintain its luxury status.
While this “management pair” approach may be an oversimplification – surely, both solo artists/entrepreneurs and teams have succeeded at times – Kapferer and Bastien make an excellent point. Luxury brands can’t be built on creativity alone, nor can they be grown by number-crunching managers.
Indeed, the neuromanagement lesson from luxury products is that few brands (or companies) can succeed without a mix of left and right-brain management. We’ve all seen companies built on a brilliant idea or insight hit the wall when the creative founder wasn’t able to manage an increasingly large and complex operation, or simply became bored with the task of managing people and numbers. Similarly, we’ve seen successful firms lose their edge when taken over by numbers-driven MBAs who lack the creative spark needed to refresh the companies brands, products, and marketing.
Is your brand or company being managed by both right-brain and left-brain thinking? To succeed, it should be, whether it is a management pair or another approach that balances creativity and analytical management.
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