Once upon a time, the majority of brands focused their marketing exclusively towards promoting the benefits and features of their products/services. Those days are now far behind us, with the emergence and growing popularity of “lifestyle brands”.
What separates a lifestyle brand from a traditional brand?
A “traditional” brand simply aims to sell its products or services to its target audience. They advertise their products’ features, quality, affordability, and other attractive benefits to entice a potential customer. “Lifestyle brands” still promote these types of benefits, but that is only a fragment of their marketing game plan.
Lifestyle brands aim to connect with the values, beliefs, and interests of their target audience. This type of marketing creates a sense of community and personal connection that leaves an impact that lasts much longer than the customers’ initial purpose.
Why does lifestyle branding work?
People just don’t trust traditional advertising as much as they used to. The average consumer is bombarded with thousands of ads each day, which makes it that much harder for a brand to leave a lasting impact on an individual.
Lifestyle brands don’t just represent their products; they represent a cause, an attitude, or a way of life. These strategies build connection and connection builds trust. People are much more likely to stay loyal to a company they believe in than one that appears to be in it for the money.
What are some examples of lifestyle branding?
The first lifestyle branding example that comes to mind is Apple (they seem to be our example for a lot of marketing success topics). We all know that Apple builds high-quality products, but their brand represents much more than that. In fact, they rarely advertise their products’ features, prices, or any other details.
Their advertisements illustrate a way of life, one comprised of creativity, freedom, happiness, and style. Their initial branding campaigns shocked the entire tech industry because their branding strategy was the exact opposite of the “traditional” IBM marketing strategies at the time. Apple has stayed true to their lifestyle branding strategies and has become one of the most powerful brands in the world.
Another excellent example is Patagonia, who started as a small outdoor climbing gear manufacturer. Patagonia prides itself on making high-quality outdoor clothing, but they also represent sustainability and an active outdoor lifestyle. Many consumers choose Patagonia products over its competitors because they resonate with Patagonia's values and way of life.
We encourage you to take a look at Patagonia’s Instagram page and try to find a post that is solely promoting a specific product. Instead, the page is full of scenic fan-submitted photos, inspirational quotes, or sustainability topics.
I get what you’re saying, but how can I apply a “lifestyle” to my brand?
We’ve got you covered with three steps for developing a lifestyle branding strategy. And don’t worry; you don’t need to be Apple or Patagonia to apply them. ☺
1) Figure out exactly who your target audience is with the 5 W’s
Identifying your audience is the first step in any marketing strategy, and it especially applies to lifestyle branding. You can start by asking the 5 W’s of identifying your audience:
WHO is your target audience? (Age, gender, etc.)
WHAT do they value? (What causes do they believe in, what are their interests, what lifestyle do they strive for)
WHEN can you connect with them or be a part of their life? (During their workday, social life, downtime at home, vacation, social media, etc.)
WHERE are they located (where do they live, shop, hang out, work, etc.)
WHY would they choose your brand over others? (How can you connect with them on a deeper level than your competition.
2) Figure out HOW to connect with your audience
Many 5W examples also include an H, but we saved that for step 2! Now that you know the details about your audience, it’s time to figure out HOW to connect with them. Here are a few ideas:
- Create social media campaigns that encourage your audience to submit User-generated content. This content will be seen as genuine and will most likely receive a significantly higher amount of engagement than an average product post.
- Get involved with a specific organization or cause. You could choose to support your local Boys and Girls Club, St Jude’s Research Hospital, the Wildlife Conservation Society, or even your local humane society. Think about what your audience believes in and pick a cause that resonates with both you AND your audience.
- Create a sense of community using clubs, memberships, or by hosting company events. You could start by creating a private Facebook group for your audience, or by hosting a monthly company cookout. You can even combine company events with a cause you support to leave an extra powerful impact!
3) Stay true to your roots, but always keep innovating!
Once you have established your company’s values and connected with your audience, we encourage you to live by your core principles continuously. Your brand’s consistency will foster lifetime customer loyalty.
That being said, keep coming up with new and improved ways to connect with your audience. Technology is evolving every day and trends come and go with the wind. A strategy that worked one month might not be so effective the next, so always keep brainstorming.
Pro Tip: Use your plentiful resources for ideas! Ask your employees for lifestyle branding ideas, and provide rewards for the best ones. You can also ask your current customers to submit ideas as well! The internet is a vast resource too, and you can take bits and pieces from other brands’ previous strategies and use them as a starting point for your lifestyle branding creation.
A successful lifestyle branding strategy takes a considerable amount of careful thought and planning, and hopefully, the guidelines we provided will get you started on the right path. Just remember that successful branding is all about building authentic connection and lifelong bonds with your audience. How are you connecting with the lifestyle of YOUR audience?
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