Branding is an important part of every company’s marketing strategy. As a company executive you want people to associate your company with a positive idea as soon as they think about it. Wal-mart? Cheap prices. Apple? Cool products. There is no greater PR nightmare then when the opposite happens and your company or brand name is synonymous with failure or bad service (think DMV, although the government could care less).
China companies are no different. They want their very names to evoke what they claim to represent, class, style, elegance. To some extent they’ve succeeded. Brands such as Lenox, Wedgwood, Royal Doulton and Waterford are always associated with the finer things in life. Lenox Blue Tree or Lenox Versailles will never be bunched together with Corelle or the box store brands.
However they’ve come up short in defining themselves as luxury brands. It may even be on purpose. Their attempts to broaden their target markets have led to a mish-mash of styles and price points which has somewhat diluted their message and pushed them closer to the household category and away from the specialty aisle. This may have been their goal and may even strengthen their business model but it makes room for other brands to claim the high end market for themselves.
The companies that most epitomize luxury and the highest of standards are Royal Crown Derby and Herend. This does not mean that there is no price variance or style difference among the many patterns produced by these firms, both active and discontinued, which of course there is. How these companies excel is that every pattern and every piece they produce meets a very high standard of quality and excellence in materials and design. Even without taking a look at the backstamp, simply be feeling a piece of their china you can determine whether it is a Crown Derby piece or not.
True, there are specific patterns in other brands that might outclass a Derby or Herend piece (my personal favorite is Spode Stafford Flowers) but taken as a whole, these brands have successfully established themselves in the public eye as china connoisseurs of the highest order. No easy feat, but one that reaps dividends every day.