Business Lessons From Rolls Royce

If you have read my lesson on the marketing efforts behind perfumes, you would know about how companies want to hide the true face of their manufacturing processes.

But that does not mean you cannot use the manufacturing process to enhance your brand. However, it greatly depends on how much your manufacturing process is in align with your desired brand image.

There is a video on the official Rolls-Royce Motor Cars YouTube channel uploaded in 2012 titled “The Prince and the Coachline Painter”. According to the video description, it is part of a series commissioned by the company called 21st Century Legends — a series of short films telling extraordinary stories about extraordinary motor cars.

Watch the following video by Rolls Royce motor company for an example.

The coachman video.

Now, bear in mind, the brand image Rolls Royce is one of bespoke luxury, a symbol of success, aspiration. It’s one of the best known luxury brands in the world, dating back to 1926. They’re in the business of making some of the world’s most expensive luxury automobiles. Some of the words associated with the brand would be sophisticated, exclusivity, bespoke, indulgence, hand-crafted, attention to detail, comfort, elegance, class and royalty.

First of all, the video is titled The Prince and the Coachline Painter (royalty). It shows InstertName applying the coachline (aka pinstripe) by hand (hand-crafted, attention to detail) to a Rolls Royce motorcar. The coachline originates from the line that used to be on carriages (elegance, class). Each coachline is individually spec’d (bespoke). Apparently he is the only one in the world (exclusivity) qualified to do this. And it is said that one time the company even flew him over all the way to Dubai to do one AFTER the customer took delivery of their car – just because the owner thought you know what, I DO want a thin stripe of paint across my car (indulgence).

The music in the video is classical, the background voice is deep and calm, and the camera movements are smooth and slow (comfort). Although these kind of things seem obvious and common sense, you’d be surprised how much you will struggle to make decisions when you build your own brand, if you do not have the proper knowledge.

The video has been viewed 10 million times. Now it would be safe to guess that almost none of those viewers decided to pick up the phone and place an order for a new Rolls Royce (which is not how it works anyway) after watching that video. Because, let’s be real not even 0.01% of those viewers could afford to buy one. But what it does is it makes Rolls Royce as a brand that much more desirable and far from the reach of ordinary people. And that’s part of what it makes a Rolls Royce car a worthwhile investment for people who CAN afford it.

Now, in reality, he probably makes an error every now and then. We don’t know for sure, but it’s possible. And he probably drives to work everyday in traffic, just like everyone else.

But that’s not what Rolls Royce makes you think. You want to think he takes the same route to work everyday, through the beautiful English countryside, in his 50 or so years of service. Probably rides one of those old timer bicycles or a classic car. Always on time, never late. Greets the doorman every single day. His wife (of also 50 years) packs his lunch everyday. And all his tools (that he never lets anybody else touch) are beautifully worn out by years and year of use. Probably his fingerprints too… okay now I am getting a bit carried away, but you get the idea.

Now, could Rolls Royce buy themselves a machine to do the same exact thing for a fraction of the cost? Absolutely yes. And a machine could do what he does 10 times faster and more accurately (which is what Toyota would do). But that’s not what this brand is about. It is more about crafmanship, sophistication, and all those things I mentioned above than high tech efficiency.

They want to create a story, a fairytale (hence the title of the video). And they have done a decent job of it.

The important thing to know here is that Rolls Royce didn’t produce this video to feel good/boast about THEMSELVES. They did this because they knew it was in align with the brand perception of their AUDIENCE, that they could use to potentially enhance it.

Another important factor to note is that they did make a beautiful video out of it. Because for something to be a part of the brand, it needs to be communicated to the audience. Although this sounds obvious, sometimes brand-owners mistakenly assume their own perception of the brand automatically becomes that of the audience.

The coachline story is only a very small part of the huge luxury brand Rolls Royce is, but these little details can act as order-winning factors over their competition.

By doing so, they are also helping their employees have pride about their work too, but that’s a lesson for a whole other time.

This is how you incorporate manufacturing in to your brand successfully. Find out the perceptions your customers have about your brand – isolate the ones that contribute the most towards purchase behavior – find out if your manufacturing process, work environment and work culture reflect those perceptions – if yes, communicate it to them in an effective way.

If you’re Apple, or any high-end fashion brand, keep it behind curtains.

You can find out a lot more about branding by using free resources available online/ Join coursera to learn more about branding/ Join bluehost to host your own website/ To learn more about branding, particularly emotional branding, read “Business Lessons in The Exorcist” written by me. Click here.

In comparison, you don’t want the hand-finished luxury for your microchip/robot/high tech weapon/fighter jet (ironically, RR makes jet engines… but they don’t use the same approach for them… hopefully). For them, you need needle pin precision and nano level accuracy. For them, imperfections are not art, they are not desirable.