Identity and ideology: What is a lifestyle brand?

The days of attracting customers with vibrant display ads and outbound marketing efforts are long gone. Today’s consumer is sick of the traditional ad format. They don’t want to be “sold to”, instead, they want to engage in experiences with brands that they can resonate with on an emotional level.

When it comes to creating loyalty-inspiring brands, few companies are more successful than lifestyle brands. These businesses have figured out how to earn the respect and trust of their customers by giving them access to the lifestyle they crave.

Lifestyle brands work by figuring out what their customers want to achieve and tailoring their brand to the experiences that their clients crave, along with the people, things, and ideas that inspire them. The top lifestyle brands know that succeeding in today’s world isn’t just about creating the ideal running apparel, but convincing your audience that your company can support them in becoming just like the athlete they idolise.

So, what is a lifestyle brand, and how can your business become one?

What is a lifestyle brand?

Lifestyle brands understand the fact that for most of us, life is pretty boring. Although we love our families, appreciate our gifts, and even enjoy our jobs, we often aspire to achieve certain changes in ourselves, like becoming more adventurous, athletic, or socially-conscious.

With lifestyle brands, specific foods, products, and apparel can help us to connect more with our ideal version of ourselves. Because we believe that certain companies are synonymous with certain values or visions, we also believe that associating ourselves with those brands help us to become more like the people we want to be.

For instance, luxury lifestyle brands like Marks and Spencer convince their customers that they can achieve a better quality of life when buying their products because they build an identity around luxurious and indulgent experiences.

When you become a lifestyle brand, you’ll need to figure out what kind of customer you want to connect with, then adjust your image, voice, and marketing strategies to form deeper connections with that specific individual. For instance:

  • Brands like Nike or Puma appeal to the “Athletic” identity
  • Brands like Jeep or Harley Davidson connect with the “Adventurer” identity
  • Brands like Pashley or Marks and Spencer appeal to the “Luxurious” or “Wealthy” identity.

Creating a lifestyle brand: What you need to know

Successful lifestyle brands earn the loyalty of their customers because they convince them that, with a little help, they can become the person they want to be. Whether you’re telling your customer that they can enjoy more luxurious experiences with you, convincing them that they can become a famous athlete, or assuring them that they can embrace a more adventurous personality, you’re making a promise to improve their world.

Because the lifestyle you’re trying to sell needs to be embedded throughout your whole identity, you’ll need to ensure that you’ve done a few things before you even start to design your logo or build your website. For instance:

1. Determine the kind of lifestyle you want to sell

When you’re creating a lifestyle brand, the first thing you need to do is figure out what kind of reputation you want to have with your customers. Ask yourself what your customers enjoy, what they want to achieve, and what challenges they currently face. A consultancy agency could help with this, or you could always survey your customers as a starting point.

2. Create a compelling brand story

You can’t just tell your customers that you’re going to give them the lifestyle they’ve always wanted. If you want to be successful you need to design a narrative that convinces your customers that your company resonates with their ultimate version of themselves. Design a story, and embed it into everything you do.

3. Get social

Lifestyle brands are naturally social. When people attempt to embrace a certain lifestyle, most of the time, they’re trying to convince the world of their identity. The best way to connect with followers as a lifestyle brand is through social media. This will help you to start creating experiences with your audience while collecting data on your target audience.

4. Create great content

Creating a great brand hinges on your ability to design incredible content. Don’t try to sell yourself or your product to your customers. Instead, find ways that you can show off your identity and your authority in your space. For instance, blog posts can be a great way to educate your customers while improving your online ranking, while videos and podcasts help you connect on a visual level.

5. Strengthen your community

Once you know the kind of lifestyle you’re trying to sell, you’ll be able to start developing a community around your values and ideals. Grow your community as quickly as possible, through word of mouth content, influencer marketing, and any other forms of social proof that can showcase the lifestyle you deliver.

Becoming a lifestyle brand

If you know anything about selling today, you’ll know that most buying decisions are emotional, not logical.

When people buy Doc Martens, they do so because they want to become a part of a culture that’s represented by the brand — one that’s centred around creativity and individuality. Today’s consumers consider the things they buy to be an extension of their identity and values.

Lifestyle brands get to the bottom of what people want from a certain niche and industry, then offer their customers the lifestyle or characteristic they’ve been craving. The key to success is remembering that your aim should be to associate yourself with what your customers want to become, not what they already are.

To learn more about lifestyle brands, check out our comprehensive guide for tips, tricks, and examples of successful companies who have earned the respect and loyalty of their customers by representing a particular kind of lifestyle.

Today, brands are about more than just selling products, they’re about selling experiences, and ideas.

With a little work, your brand can become more than just a business, it can be a way of life.

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by 295,232+ people.

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