An oversaturated marketplace, information available at the tap of a finger, consumers who have become hypersensitive to the advertising methods of old—the art of marketing has a plethora of obstacles working against it nowadays. And for many companies, it can seem like a battle just to be heard above the noise. What does resonate amidst all these setbacks is the impact of not just marketing a product and/or service as a brand, but as a lifestyle brand.
At the core is the idea that in order to effectively reach consumers, you have to connect with them. You need to think beyond the purchase to how your product and/or service will fold itself into their daily lives. But beyond this basic ideology, what is a lifestyle brand specifically?
Define ‘Lifestyle Brand’
When breaking down this concept, first think about what is a lifestyle. It’s a set of interests, opinions, or ideas that people adhere to and use to reflect a particular group or culture. It’s a definition in and of itself of who people are or hope to be.
Take this, apply it to the branding of a product, and you have something that holds itself to more than just a logo or basic marketing personas. Lifestyle brands must both have a broad scope of products and/or services offered and embody the same aesthetics, ideals, and aspirations that their targeted audiences identify with. In addition, at the heart of these types of brands is a deeper ideology—something that gives meaning and purpose to why they exist.
Creating a Lifestyle Brand
In order to become the type of brand that operates off a much more ‘human-driven’ methodology and successful at lifestyle marketing, begin with a bit of research. First, make a generalized lifestyle brands list: a listing of top lifestyle brands that succeed at activating and uniting communities. Then narrow in on a list of competitor brands within your specific industry (whether any of them speak to that of the lifestyle business or not).
Ask yourself what sets your brand apart from the others—what your unique selling proposition? Is it excellent customer service, expertise in a niche field, affordable prices, luxury? Once you can speak to this, you can begin to get a sense for what your ideal customer base might look like. And the more specific you can be, even if the audience base seems smaller because of it, the better.
Imagine your brand as a venn diagram where the two—unique selling proposition and clientele—intersect. That intersection will serve as a guiding point for the content strategy you put into place. You’ll want content across all marketing channels to align and project the image you want your audience to gravitate towards. With these assets and brand ideology in place, you’ll be able to build momentum with your target demographics and slowly take ownership of the specific gaps you hope for your product to fill.
Marketing Your Lifestyle Brand in the 21st Century
These days, many of those in the lifestyle industry aim to bridge a gap between cheap and aspirational luxury. These brands most often hope to speak to groups in the middle class that use their choices, interests, emotions, attitudes, and opinions to propel them to portray a certain image of success. They want to look as though they’ve reached the top, even if their bank account reflects otherwise.
And this is why lifestyle brands marketed more as aspirational brands are so effective. They feed into this long-term vision of what people can become, and make it more of a reality in the present. Lifestyle clothing brands speak very well to this as they often establish a sustainable, long-lasting relationship built around the human desire to look just like someone or something else. Younger generations have become especially susceptible to this, especially as the begin to take up a major portion of buying power within the United States alone.
Lifestyle brands can also fall within a category of inspiration. This is often built around shorter term goals. And while they often result in fewer purchases by an individual, they’re still repeats. Lifestyle examples of this nature include brands like Southwest Airlines or Apple. They inspire people to explore, they inspire people to create; these brands generate lifestyle ads out of both inspiration and aspiration to belong to the community of individuals that also adhere to their specific product lifestyle.
1. Be Personal
In order to connect with people from the lifestyle perspective, engage on a platform most likely to be frequented by people in their everyday lives. Social media is one of the most powerful ways to get your lifestyle brand’s name out there as well as collect data on the audience your content is impacting most. Build out a lifestyle ad through Facebook and/or Instagram that speaks to your desired persona and is relatable to customers on a very basic level.
It doesn’t have to be fancy at first, it just has to clearly show the personality and pay-off. Use the insights provided through each channel to create future iterations and allow data collected from other channels (i.e. emails through website, blog, etc.) to fuel your targeting. The more your channels work together and the more your content engagingly informs than sells, the more successful your campaigns will be.
2. Design Experiences
Content that doesn’t feel like a hard sell is key and blogs, are an excellent source of guidance in this area. Think of formats like listicles, vlogs, guides and reviews. Each can be written in a way that clearly offers an opinion and establishes a further dialogue about a common idea, which can eventually branch into opportunities to purchase product.
Larger campaigns should appeal to your customer’s emotions as well. The more an individual is made to connect your imagery with deeper feelings and memories, the more likely your brand is to be remembered. Think of something like the Coca-cola polar bears, and their signal of the holidays. It’s a recurring theme that people have come to expect in their winter advertisements and with it, a sense of comfort.
For brands with central, physical locations and stores, make sure to develop the environment in a way that tells customers exactly what to expect and identify with upon entering. Even when doing this, some brands will falter because business actions reflect otherwise upon the lifestyle they’ve chosen to reflect. One example of this would be American Apparel, who projected itself as ‘urban progressive’ only to see its owner become caught up in sexual harassment lawsuits.
Kate Spade Saturday was another brand that attempted to speak to a certain crowd unsuccessfully. The branch of Kate Spade was meant to serve a slightly more down-to-earth crowd in the sense of affordability and style. When prices and look ended up reflecting otherwise however, the lack of sales spoke for themselves. A brand has to truly commit to its chosen lifestyle from the feel of its products to the actions of its employees and representatives. If it fails to do so, it fails to be both believable and credible.
3. Grow Your Community
With credibility on behalf of voice and look comes credibility on behalf of the people supporting your brand. This is where growing your community and again, social media come into play. As one of the quickest and most cost-effective methods of assembling engaged audiences, social media channels have become forces within almost every digital marketing strategy today.
Aside from being active and striking a healthy balance of relevant curated and created content, influencers are another method for gaining traction. Influencers, or social media personalities, that speak for your brand offer reliability and attainability to fans and followers. They should embody the ideals your audiences aspire to achieve while also speaking in ways authentic enough for them to believe in.
To create a successful lifestyle brand, you must know your brand values and target market to the core. With that knowledge, let them guide your marketing efforts both in look and feel, and remain consistent across the board. Brands fail most often in this day and age because there’s a disconnect—a disconnect in a brand message or a disconnect in the audiences their product actually appeals to. Don’t let those gaps widen to the point of no return.
For more information on building out an effective lifestyle strategy and bridging the gaps before they widen to the point of no return, contact Pixlee today!