Unlike a laundry detergent that merely promises to turn your clothes whiter than white, a lifestyle brand fulfills its consumers’ way of life. That is, it evokes an emotional connection between your consumer and his or her desire to affiliate with a group. In other words, a lifestyle brand becomes a part of how we define ourselves. From a marketer’s standpoint, creating a lifestyle brand is the pinnacle of brand building: consumers are willing to pay a premium for that emotional connection with the brand. And the more emotion there is, the greater the premium. Also, lifestyle brands command extreme loyalty, up to devotion. Harley Davidson is the textbook example of a lifestyle brand, whereby devotees (mostly baby boomers) not only ride the bikes but also wear the gear, form clubs and even ink the brand on their skin.
Although Gen X and Millennials don’t ride much, they too strive for an idealized lifestyle depicted through social media celebrities, Instagram filters…and brands.
Here are three guidelines to create a lifestyle brand that will appeal to today’s consumers.
1. Turn An Existing Concept Into A New Trend
Too many brands search aimlessly for ‘white space’, hoping to launch THAT product we will all crave but don’t know it yet. A quicker and easier path to success is to look at existing concepts and evolve them so that they resonate with a different audience.
For example, Daybreaker is an early morning dance movement that grew to 22 cities around the world in less than 5 years. Daybreaker has not invented electronic dance music, nor yoga, nor does it own the clubs, bars and boats where it hosts its event.
Its founders loved dancing, they just didn’t like the bouncers, the drunk patrons and the anonymity of night clubs. Radha Agrawal and Matt Brimer created Daybreaker to ‘replace all the negative, dark stuff about nightclubs with light, positive stuff’. Their goal was ‘To give people an outlet to dance and enjoy themselves without the “depleted” feeling you get from a night out.’
Today, Daybreaker combines all the lifestyle attributes millennials crave: wellness, a sense of camaraderie, a place to express themselves (most patrons wear costumes) and a little bit of mischief.
2. Pick A Forgotten Category, Reposition The Product To Align With Culture, Amplify Your Message
Just like Daybreaker has not invented the disco ball and DJ booth, LaCroix has not invented sparkling water. On one hand, the category was dominated by sophisticated products like San Pelegrino and Perrier. On the other, LaCroix noticed Americans loved soda cans but were moving away from the category, because they were increasingly conscious about their sugar and caffeine intake. LaCroix borrowed the marketing codes that made the success of cola brands: a refreshing drink in a colorful can, at a price point that appeals to the masses. As a flavored sparkling water, LaCroix has become the prefect drink for health-conscious consumers that crave soda but can’t afford the calories.
LaCroix certainly does not owe it success to its marketing budget. Rather than enlisting celebrities or airing TV ads, the brand relied mostly on Instagram and Facebook to build a community of engaged and loyal consumers. The word spread fast among Millennials, thanks to its neon-color can that stands out on Instagram pictures, even without filters.
To sell its brand to millennials….the LaCroix marketing team hired some. The company put together a small team of young, social media savvy marketers that are attuned with culture.
3. Be A Culture Creator
Creating culture is also what made the success of WeWork, a co-working space that caters to startup brands and small companies that need office space but don’t like commitments. Here again, WeWork has not invented office space and wifi. It has created a community of like-minded entrepreneurs that gather at WeWork’s coffee lounges and beer & wine events. Beyond renting office space, these startups and small companies want to belong to a community of like-minded people.
To sum up, creating a lifestyle brand does not necessarily mean re-inventing the wheel. Start by immersing yourself in people lives – ethnography is a good research method for that. Notice what people want, and the product and service they currently rely on to fulfill their need. Then, evolve this product so that it better aligns with their culture, values and aspirations.
Finally, focus on the experience, not the function: people won’t buy your brand for what it does, but for what it means to them.
The Blake Project Can Help: Accelerate Brand Growth Through Powerful Emotional Connections
Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Licensing and Brand Education