Monogrammed Marmite jars. Custom-made supercars. A cool pair of trainers—with your name as the logo.
We reckon 2018’s the year of personalisation.
That’s why our theme this year is “As Individual As You Are”. A celebration of what’s unique and creative inside all of us. Because we believe self-expression makes life more fun, memories more unforgettable and the world more vibrant.
So, over the course of the year we’ll be championing all the very best in individualisation—what’s trending, what’s new, what’s weird and what’s wonderful.
Our aim is to delight and inspire you. In doing so, we hope you’ll help us push the boundaries of what’s possible in personalised pianos.
Not just in terms of colour, materials, structure and finish—though we relish a design challenge—but in how you experience our self-playing pianos. From how you listen to and design your own bespoke piano, to how we build and deliver it (yacht, helicopter, gondola anyone?).
In essence, we’re on a mission to create magical experiences, perfectly designed around you.
And, in our efforts to celebrate all the things that make you, you, we’ll be sharing the inspirational stories behind our custom-made pianos. From the vibrant people enjoying an Edelweiss piano at home, to the bold, determined artisans making them—and the places you all go for inspiration.
We hope you’ll join us on this journey and share your wonderful ideas and stories with us. Because your unique ideas are what bring our pianos to life. You can post your pictures on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #MyEdelweiss . We’d love to see them.
For now, let’s take an adventure into what personalisation means in today’s fast-moving times, what it could mean for you in the future and how it’s probably impacting your life already.
Ready to get personal? Let’s dig in.
Mega-trend: personalisation in 2018
Forget monogrammed handkerchiefs and headed notepaper—personalisation just got even more personal. Savvy manufacturers, fashion houses and designers are answering our need for exclusivity and control, putting the ‘you’ back into unique in ways never seen before.
From tailor-made Prada shoes and bespoke Moet & Chandon, to customised cars and individualised DIY wallpapers, you can make your mark on just about anything these days.
Where did it all begin? A brief romp through personalisation
So where did it all begin? The art of engraving motifs and stamping monograms goes back hundreds of years, of course. Stationers Smythson of Bond Street were creating personalised gifts, diaries and notebooks back in 1887, and most retailers worth their weight—whether hat makers or jewellers—honed their services or products to fit their customers’ personal tastes.
Two world wars and the rise in globalisation and mass consumerism diminished personal service to a degree. But by the 1960s, companies were once more asking what their products and services meant to us on an emotional level.
By 2006, Time magazine was naming ‘you’ as its Person of the Year.
And after the financial crash in 2007-8, manufacturers began to realise the importance of learning what made their customers tick. From what books and shops we liked, to how we travelled and what we liked to wear. A return to the traditional idea of ‘the bespoke’.
As the concept of the individual gained momentum, we began to expect companies to know more than just our first name. Recently, advances in digital technology have skyrocketed choice about how we navigate our world. Whether that’s through personalised mobile interfaces, bespoke social media platforms or personal tech, which we can wear and adapt to our lifestyle. Giant leaps in technology, flexible manufacturing and 3D printing have also seen increasingly sophisticated materials now available to be manipulated and customised.
Today, individualisation both off and online is expected as standard, especially when it comes to high-end brands. Instead of offering products that are mass-produced, companies are offering mass personalisation. While 20-years-ago the luxury of owning a Prada bag might have been enough of a differentiator, now we’re demanding that handbag has our name on it too. Where once it was all about flaunting a company logo, now it’s about creating your own logo.
Nowadays, everybody wants to be a brand… what’s yours?
Social media has allowed everyone to become a ‘personal brand’ in their own right, giving our personal details the status symbol they never had.
Customise your shoes with your initials and you have your very own personal brand – the ultimate status symbol and Instagramable product.
Everyone’s searching for individuality and originality. Everyone wants to distinguish themselves from others… to stand out from the crowd. And what better way to create your own unique identity than social media?
But to stand out, we often have to individualise everyday products and services. Hence the need for self-designed clothes, furniture, cars, even food and drink. And the more customised these are, the more they provide people with that crucial sense of individuality – the ultimate status symbol.
From personalised Fendi bags to luxury knitwear: fashion leads the way
Fashion is where personalisation has really taken off, particularly at the luxury end. Ever fancied taking your pet pooches to work (without them leaving the house)? Now you can have photos of their furry faces lasered onto your shoes.
Where Nike trailblazed the customisable trainer with its NikeiD service, others have followed in its sporty steps. ‘Vans Customs’ allows you to upload photos and prints onto your Vans, as well as choose the material, design and colour. Meanwhile, high-end sportswear brand Alala now allows you to strut your individual style in the fitness studio with customisable, colour-blocked leggings.
On the catwalk, Hermes has created a ‘Custom Silk Corner’ that allows its customers to create their own versions of its iconic scarves, Prada shoes are now available in 32 colours (complete with monogrammed initials) and Gucci has announced a ‘DIY’ programme, which allows personalisation of its famous Dionysus handbag.
But perhaps you want a handbag strap to match every mood? Fendi’s ‘Strap You’ service offers straps in nine different colours, while Aspinal’s ‘Chameleon’ range allows you to individualise its signature bag with a whopping 15,000 different mutations. Now you just need 15,000 outfits!
And even traditional companies are getting in on the act too. Historic, luxury knitwear brand Pringle of Scotland has launched its first-ever bespoke cashmere service ‘Pringle Deconstructed’, which allows wearers to create a multitude of colour combinations and personally individualise its famous cashmere jumper.
Your favourite drink, personalised for you
Personalisation isn’t just about the way we look; it’s now about the way we live, eat and drink.
Coca-Cola made a splash in the summer of 2013/14 when it swapped its famous logo for people’s names, suggesting customers “Share a Coke with those people who matter most”. It quickly became one of the company’s most successful marketing campaigns, with more than £150 million personalised bottles sold and 998 million impressions on Twitter.
Other food and drink producers have followed suit. McVities did a roaring trade in personalised Jaffa Cake boxes this year and Marmite allowed its jars to be emblazoned with people’s monikers, with ‘Dad’s Marmite’ proving to be the most popular.
And for the woman who has everything? A Moët & Chandon hand-customised bottle of course. You can engrave a message on a bottle or add a hot-stamp monogram to one of its wooden cases.
And finally, we couldn’t mention personalised drinks without mentioning Starbucks, a company that has carved out a multi-billion dollar business based on individualisation, encouraging people to take 20 minutes out of an already busy day to drink an expensive coffee with their name written on the cup.
Couture wallpapers to bespoke carpets: your home as an extension of your personality
The cresting of bloggers, and platforms like Instagram and Pinterest have given rise to a surge in personalisation in the home. People want to show off their unique taste, not just at home, but to the world. And of course, when you help create something yourself, there’s more pride in ownership.
While Aunty Angela’s flock wallpaper and matching cushions was always about personal taste, now wallpaper and fabric manufacturers have taken this one step forward.
Today, couture wallpapers can be printed with your favourite holiday snaps, letters or poems. 55 Max London, for example, offers specially curated wall murals, including write-on wallpaper, comic strips, hand-painted art and film strips, as well as bespoke roller blinds. Fabric firm Elanbach allows customers to use pencil drawings or photographs to play around with fabric patterns.
Interflora has developed an online service whereby customers can design bespoke bouquets by choosing from more than 70 flower and foliage options, and toy manufacturer Mattel is set to launch 3D-printed toys.
And of course there’s now the opportunity to express yourself in a musical masterpiece with a self-playing piano that can be customised in limitless designs, from 24-carat gold and sparkling Swarovski crystal to animal print.
Cars and personalisation: The ultimate status symbol
But never has there been more of a status symbol than the car we drive. For decades, people have agonised over what the shiny exterior paint job says about them: black for strength and power; silver meaning futuristic and elegant; red for sensuality and dynamism, etc. Blue car drivers were always considered more trustworthy than green, and if you drove an orange or yellow car, you were artistic, individual and complex.
Now your car can be a blank canvas with hundreds of firms offering personalisation services. Choose from a full body wrap using textured vinyl car wrapping film available in hundreds of different colours or customise wheels, wing mirrors, roof and trims to your taste.
At the ‘surface finishing centre’ at Rolls Royce, customers can mix and match a multitude of different shades of paint for a completely one-off vehicle. And BMW Individual invites you to choose from a “myriad of customised features and handcrafted details,” so that “your chosen BMW can become an impressive expression of your own personality”.
What’s fuelling our desire for individuality?
So why has individualisation and making our unique personal mark become such an important part of our lives?
In a world of homogenous retail, and fast-changing social media and online styles and trends, it has become harder to stand out. So ‘being yourself’ has become an important differentiator.
Already distinctive celebrities are fuelling the phenomenon with social media posts that show off their latest personalised purchases. Taylor Swift showed off an Edie Parker bag inscribed with the name of her latest song, for example.
Social media is also rife with campaigns that are all about being happy in your own skin, such as Dove’s #NoLikesNeeded, Lane Bryant #ImNoAngel and #nomakeupselfies. Interestingly, analytics by Clicktale suggest a higher percentage of women are currently opting for personalised products and services than men.
Feel-good hormones (and your brain on personalisation)
Personalisation works on a psychological level too. Neuro-economist Paul Zak’s 2014 study famously demonstrated that three out of eight people love brands more than their spouses due to the way it gives them a virtual hug by releasing the feel-good hormone oxytocin.
When we customise a product, we also feel a sense of ownership – even before we’ve bought it. We’re also prepared to pay more for products we’ve had a hand in ‘co-creating’, and 78 per cent of us feel that brands that create personalised content or products are more interested in building a relationship with us. Personalisation appeals to our innate need to feel engaged and stay one step ahead of our friends.
Tomorrow’s world: individualisation in the future
Just how individualisation will transform our lives in the future is hard to predict. But the next stage could be DIY customisation. Like the online Edelweiss piano configurator, which allows you to render a 3D model of your dream piano, these days, we don’t just want a designer to make our personalised items; we want to make them ourselves.
Topshop has already installed digital printing machines in its stores, which let customers create their own individualised T-shirts and accessories.
From personalised holidays to healthcare: the big data explosion
We’ve already seen big data personalisation in the virtual word, with websites and online experiences that have a deep understanding of user preferences. But this is permeating into the real world too. The Nike+ platform, for example, enables users to learn about themselves via personalised tracking and training systems, and luxury stores such as Harrods offer world-class, bespoke personal shopping experiences.
Carnival Cruise Lines have taken the personalised experience concept one step further with ‘The Medallion Experience’, with wearable technology that allows guests to personalise their whole holiday. The wristband or pendant not only acts as a key card and credit card, but also gives access to a personalised online concierge service, on-demand food and drinks, interactive gaming, customised entertainment and smart navigation.
In the future, personalisation might just go further than skin deep. We’ve already seen ‘personalised nutrition’, with wearable diet technology and customised nutrition based on genetic testing – but could microbial analysis become as routine as a blood test? Perhaps the next time you visit the doctor’s surgery, your GP will dish out personalised probiotics and medicines. This brings a whole new meaning to up close and personal.
Personalisation is already part of your everyday life
The records Uber keeps of your previous journeys. The history Domino’s saves of your love of ham and pineapple pizzas. The drinks the hotel remembers from your previous visit and puts in your mini bar. You might not even notice it, but these are all examples of individualisation that are already leaking into our everyday lives.
The rise of authenticity in business: are you being true to yourself?
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Have you noticed how everywhere you look these days, people are trumpeting individuality? Be true to yourself. Get comfortable in your own skin. Embrace your authenticity.
In business, in life, in our everyday choices, we’re constantly encouraged to blaze our own trail. Copy others and you’re not being true to yourself. And so we strive to avoid imitating others, so as not to lose our individuality.
Personalisation gives us a means to express this ambition. Sure, we can’t pack it all in to spend our days in Tuscany painting watercolours—or whatever that ambition means for us—but we can broadcast our unique dreams and passions in other, less dramatic ways. Like posting photos of our customised Nikes on Facebook.
If embracing our uniqueness provides a way to find meaning in life, then our need for personalised products is simply a human craving. Why fight it?