You’ve developed a great line of products or services. Now what?
There are plenty of sales-focused businesses out there where this is the end of the story: have stuff, sell stuff, make money. Some entrepreneurs, however, crave something deeper. They are setting out to make a real impact on their customers, and even on the world at large. That’s when brands go beyond “stuff” and tap into our way of life; that’s the difference between a brand and lifestyle brand.
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Key ingredients of a lifestyle brand
A lifestyle brand exists for reasons beyond selling. It aims to offer its customers a successful way of living, and it leads by example.
It creates a movement toward a particular way of being, and it taps into the heart of our cultural need to do so. And to accomplish this, the brand has to walk its talk.
A lifestyle brand has to have soul! It has to have a life and energy of its own. You can think about “giving birth” to your lifestyle brand like you would a child: you conjure its soul and inject into it an immovable set of core principles. You build its features, and instill a particular tone to its voice. You help it speak and interact; you support it in growing and maintaining relationships. With the right guidance, it will navigate through life with its own unique and admirable style.
If you give your lifestyle brand this level of love and soul, it will become magnetic. People will listen when it speaks and follow when it leads.
A lifestyle brand how-to guide
Give it a face
Describe a life without your lifestyle brand. What are its pain points? What solutions does your lifestyle brand provide?
Identify your target market, then imagine you are riding shotgun through three days with them. Write down what they do, how they feel and when, what they prefer. Understand their lifestyle so you can become a part of their culture.
Identify your brand’s mission and vision. What will it achieve for the individual and the community at large? What are the core principles and values of the brand?
Defining these principles and values gives your brand entity a backbone, shapes its purpose, gives it integrity during decision making and amplifies its message. You will begin to see a personality (branding), purpose and drive (planning), and positioning and direction (strategic marketing) take shape.
Identify three main colors that represent and communicate your brand’s core values. Then, design a logo with those colors and principles to put a face to the soul you’ve created. Consider how your target market will react to it, interact with it and judge it. Assess whether the logo emanates the tone and energy that not only conveys its unique personality, but also connects with the culture of your target market (those folks you rode shotgun with for three days!).
Give it a voice
How your brand “speaks” depends on the personality and principles you put into it. Those factors will determine if it is compassionate, playful, intelligent, bold, and so on. They will also help you define which messaging channels are in alignment with your audience (i.e., static, dynamic, video, print, social media, etc.).
Be conscientious about how your brand speaks, because consumers are much more savvy nowadays. They can instinctively tell when they are being lied to and, conversely, they know when they are hearing the truth. Alignment between your brand’s soul and how it speaks has the potential to create market distinction, amplify its messages and cut through today’s marketing noise.
Define a byline. Whether you choose to use it or not, it boils down the intent and tone of the brand into a bitesize chew. What does the brand propose to do and with what personality?
Text, copy, headlines, words and language have energy. How you speak, the words you choose, and the vocal tone you use with your family and friends are thoughtfully used in order to successfully communicate. Do the same for your lifestyle brand. Once you have determined the tone of your brand, be sure that the copy and any colloquialisms are consistent with the personality. Consumers will not follow a two-faced leader.
Choose its activities
What your brand does and how it engages its market should be aligned with its mission and style. Choose actions that will thoughtfully strengthen and widen the relationships you have with your target consumer.
Create an appropriate blend of owned (website, newsletter), paid (advertising) and earned (word-of-mouth) attention. Thoughtfully select which channels support the personality of the business and connect best with your market.
A successful lifestyle brand will blaze a signature path, so be wary of trending marketing tactics that may not be appropriate for you. A tactic that may have worked for one business may not work for another. What will work is a carefully crafted blend of actions that, together, carry your brand’s unique personality. Consistency of brand activity strengthens its relationships.
Pick its friends wisely
Your brand can be damaged merely by association! However, good opportunities can also come from who you’re associated with, so choose who your brand partners and networks with wisely. Instilling values and principles and defining your brand’s mission will help you navigate through your numerous marketing options and identify ideal partners and influencers.
Quality relationships are key to any lifestyle brand. It is no different than when you were in school: you were judged by the company you kept. You gained friends who identified with you and deepened the relationships that brought mutual joy.
Examine the businesses working within the culture of your target market and assess whether there are potential networking opportunities. These partnerships may help further entrench your brand.
Instill it with a healthy dose of self-esteem
A lifestyle brand must believe in its own innate value. There will be varying kinds of pressure to change and conform your brand, but the more it is committed to its core principles, the stronger its identity and resilience to social pressures will be. Chasing trends and tactics makes it appear to consumers that your brand may be indecisive — an expensive risk for you to take!
By following your heart and creating a brand with soul, you can integrate your brand into the community. Maintain your brand’s role as beneficial, reliable, responsible and consistent within the community and you’ll build the kind of trust that results in lifetime customers.
Building a lifestyle brand is so much more than selling; it’s a way of standing in your truth and, by doing so, attracting just the right tribe to stand with you. Be true to them, and they’ll be true to you — and your brand will thrive!
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