Developing, managing, and growing a brand is no easy feat. As marketing students know, it takes hard work, a keen understanding of target audiences, and an uncanny ability to adapt to unpredictable events. And for many luxury brands, passing the test of time takes a little something extra – a strong team, a deep passion, and an unwavering commitment to excellence.
Italian entrepreneurs and business visionaries can definitely school the world in what it takes to build and maintain an iconic, high-end brand. From Gucci to Prada to Lamborghini and Ferrari, students studying in Italy find themselves surrounded by luxury labels that have stood the test of time.
Read on to discover the stories behind three of Italy’s top brands, and what lessons they have to offer students studying business in Italy.
Ferrari: How Passion & Persistence Paved the Path to Success
While some companies are created to fill gaps in the market or to capitalize on trends, Ferrari was born from a deep passion for car racing.
Enzo Ferrari’s passion for racing began when he saw his first car race at just ten years old, and quickly decided that he wanted to become a professional racer himself.
Unfortunately, the road to success is often a little bumpy – and Ferrari encountered a few setbacks on his own professional path. His father and brother died suddenly, forcing Ferrari to quit school at an early age to find work. And then, with the outbreak of WWI, he was soon drafted into the army.
Even after the war, Ferrari encountered difficulties when he applied to work for Fiat, but was rejected.
However, Ferrari’s passion for racing persisted, and along with it, his professional fortitude. He diligently continued to apply for positions at various companies, and even networked at local hangouts until he eventually landed a position at Alfa Romeo as a professional racer.
But, while he enjoyed some success as a driver, Ferrari – taking stock of his strengths and weaknesses – decided to refocus his efforts on car making instead of car racing. He realised that his keen eye for quality and detail would work best in a corporate setting, and so he founded the company Scuderia Ferrari. This was his first step to founding one of the most dominant brands in the history of professional racing.
Lamborghini: How One Small Feud Launched a Luxury Car Brand
Business students enrolled in American universities in Italy often complete case studies to examine the stories behind the successes and failures of some of the world’s top companies. And while they discover that some companies were born from a personal passion or ambitious vision, others arise from slightly less “honorable” motivations.
According to legend, the Lamborghini luxury car company came into being as the result of a petty feud between Ferruccio Lamborghini and Enzo Ferrari – two of the biggest car moguls in history.
Ferruccio Lamborghini had created a name for himself – as well as a small fortune – manufacturing tractors from left-over WWII tank and car parts. The tractors were sorely needed by local farmers after the war, and so Lamborghini’s keen eye for identifying consumer demand netted him a fine profit.
As an avid car enthusiast, he had used his wealth to buy some of the top luxury cars available, but was disappointed by the quality of his Ferrari 250 GT. He tried to book an appointment with Enzo Ferrari to discuss the problem, but was snubbed for being “just” a tractor manufacturer.
Lamborgini then vowed to outdo his new nemesis, and in the process created one of the most celebrated luxury car brands in the world.
Fendi: Study in Rome at the Home of this Company’s Headquarters
Students enrolled in colleges in Rome enjoy the many advantages of studying in a capital city – including living near the headquarters of the famed Italian designer brand, Fendi.
The story of this luxury fashion, fur, and leather goods brand is closely tied to the story of the Fendi family. Originally founded in 1925 by the husband and wife team of Edoardo and Adele Fendi, this Italian brand – and family – grew quickly.
Edoardo and Adele had five daughters – Paola, Anna, Franca, Carla, and Alda – who all grew up in their family shop and eventually joined the business. Each sister took on a different division of the company, and, under their leadership, Fendi grew to become the fashion giant it is today.
Unfortunately, after years of company expansion the sisters grew apart. They eventually sold their shares of the company, but even now one Fendi family member – Silvia Venturini Fendi – continues to carry on the family tradition by working as Fendi’s creative director for accessories.
What other luxury Italian brands are you interested in learning about while you study in Italy?