The more we think we know how to build a lifestyle brand, the more delusional we usually are. The funny thing is, this doesn’t reflect badly on us – it’s just a matter of the industry spitting out wrong information.
What we’re used to thinking of as lifestyle branding is merely fancy food photos, snaps from vacations on rented yachts… and maybe a post bragging about all of our achievements. The truth is, lifestyle branding is not about showing your face all over your business, and it’s not about snapping photos of your food or luxurious lifestyle either. In other words, despite its name, it doesn’t have anything to do with showing how you live your life.
If your business is centered on a personal brand, then that definitely plays a part in it, however, most successful lifestyle brands are not personal brands. They’re not based on any human being.
Some of the most successful lifestyle brands are Ralph Lauren’s Polo brand and, of course, Apple. Many brands, like McDonalds, have tried to go there, but have failed miserably, because they’re missing one of the essential attributes. About 13 years ago, Mcdonalds falsely proclaimed itself a lifestyle brand and faced a lot of backlash for it.
Their strategy was to change its employees’ uniforms and hire a few pop stars as part of their influencer marketing initiatives. The reason this backfired was that they completely neglected their messaging and their value attributes which are, to this day, unclear to me (and many others).
Showing Your Lifestyle Without a Clear Strategy Can Damage Your Brand
If your business came to life because of your personal brand, as is the case with me, it sometimes seems so obvious to us that showing our lifestyles is a great thing, when the truth is…
Do it the wrong way and you can severely damage your brand authority. It can go one of two ways – you either stop being inspirational because you’re not in a place where showing your lifestyle builds any authority, or you start being seen as arrogant and with nothing better to do than take photos and share them on Instagram.
Through my work, I’ve discovered 5 brand attribute that are necessary to build a lifestyle brand and often act as the foundation for it.
The 5 Essential Brand Attributes You Need to Build a Lifestyle Brand
1. Psychological ownership through inspiration
Lifestyle brands often manage to fulfill consumers’ notion of where they’re headed or where they want to go. They’re reminded of their massive potential and of what sets them apart from everyone else trying to accomplish the same thing. They see themselves in the brand, if it’s a personal brand, or they see themselves using the product/service. (e.g. traveling first class, buying a Porsche, staying in Hard Rock hotel). If you’re running a business based on your personal brand, the way to achieve that is to enable your followers/potential clients to self-identify with your brand.
2. Value-based marketing
All lifestyle brands have one powerful thing in common: their set of core values is very clearly visible through their content and product/service offerings. Remember, we all search for content that reinforces what we already believe in. The values your business was built upon are the number one reason people connect to it – and the reason they buy from you. Lifestyle brands are built on purpose and shared values.
3. Co-creation practices
Most entrepreneurs think that churning out content on a consistent basis is enough to build a powerful brand. The good news is – it’s a part of it, and if you’ve mastered consistency, you’re already three steps ahead. The bad news is that there’s a lot more to it. You need to understand we live in an era of consumer sovereignty – it’s not up to you what products and services you create. It’s up to them. So… how do you know what they want? It’s simple – you ask. One of the questions I ask on my quarterly brand audit survey is “What products/services would you like to see from me next?” The answers to this always tell me what I should be launching next. This is not optional – you must enable them to be part of your brand journey by engaging in conversations, asking them to contribute and crafting opportunities for user-generated content.
4. Enabling perceived competence
Our need to feel competent is the basic tendency on which self-esteem and self-confidence are based. Remember the last brand attribute? See, in environments where you’ve managed to foster co-creation activities, make sure you give people the opportunity to feel competent. For example, I love asking people on my status updates what they do, how they do it and what their biggest achievement is. Ever wondered why everybody’s so fast to comment on that? Not just because we love talking ’bout ourselves… because we have a basic need to feel competent. There’s no denying it – it often drives our behavior. So, give your audience a stage – and see this need in action. It will just bring them closer to your brand because of the gratitude they feel towards you for providing them this opportunity. Not to mention, now they connect you to the positive feeling of pride flowing through them.
5. Fostering relatedness
Relatedness is our need to feel connected – to feel like we belong. This is also one of the biggest pain points marketers use to target their ideal clients. A lot of my BBS members join my inner circle because they want to belong to a group – a family of other business owners who are always there for support. The feeling of belonging is so fundamental to the experience of being human that we seek it out every day. What’s fascinating is that we often find it in our favorite brands.
A sense of belonging is achieved through building a community… but how do we do that? It’s an aspect of growing your business I like to talk about often – and here’s the shortest explanation: when your core message triggers a specific social identity, people start aligning with your brand for a sense of belonging and connectedness. You need a unified place where they can hang out, where you enable them to connect with each other and not just your brand. Think of yourself as the mediator.
-The Branding Queen