Not just for display purposes only
In this article we look at the role ‘lifestyle’ brands play in the lives of consumers.
‘Lifestyle’ has become a popular word in marketing language and, as an agency specialising in branding, we’re keen to explore the deeper meaning behind this term and reflect on consumers’ perceptions of ‘lifestyle brands’.
A common misconception is that lifestyle brands are simply to be showcased and paraded around social media to project a particular way an individual lives, the experiences they have and the values they hold dear. This kind of marketing is known as ‘outer directed’ and such an approach can often appear contrived and fake, bringing little of genuine value to the brand as it fails to connect with the consumer in any true or meaningful way. Brands that want to excel within the lifestyle arena and appeal to ‘inner-directed’ individuals – those who seek personal growth and fulfilment through enriching experiences – must be much more than ‘For display purposes only’.
A lifestyle brand should seek to inspire, guide, and motivate, thereby enhancing people’s lives. This is a brand’s ‘soul’ and is what helps to define and differentiate it from rival products. Understanding this need to focus on the soul of the product is critical to a brand’s success and should be the starting point for any successful branding agency. From this emotional centre – where we’re concentrating on thoughts and feelings and motivation – we can begin to work outwards and connect with consumers on other levels such as product benefits and how these meet consumers’ needs. We can then move further out again and look at cosmetic elements such as how does it make the consumer ‘look’ as well as how does it make them ‘feel’.
Take a look at Patagonia
Patagonia grew out of a small company that made tools for climbers. Their product range has now expanded to skiing, snowboarding, surfing, kayaking, mountain biking, trail running and fly fishing. These are all silent sports. None requires a motor and, at the personal level, none delivers the cheers of a crowd. In each sport, reward comes in the form of hard-won grace and moments of profound connection between an individual and nature. This is the second tier: how the consumer connects with the product and how it makes them feel.
And now for the ‘soul’ of Patagonia…
For Patagonia, a love of wild and beautiful places demands participation in the fight to protect those natural environments and help reverse the steep decline in the health of the planet. They donate their time, services and a percentage of their profits from sales to hundreds of grassroots environmental groups all over the world who work to help save the planet.
Finding the soul…
Here at Third Floor, whenever we approach a project, we look for the ‘soul’ in a brand: we dig deep and uncover what drives the company to create the individual products and services they offer and, ultimately, the emotional attachment their consumers are able to form with them. Lifestyle brands are not as focused on product benefits or USPs. Instead, they connect with their consumers on a deeper level and trigger strong personal emotions. Furthermore, a well-executed lifestyle brand will enhance the consumer’s enjoyment of life and become an integral part their everyday lives and their special experiences.
&SONS Trading Company
When we worked on the launch of &SONS we had to look further than the products we had created. We had to go deeper and look at why the brand exists and the role it plays in people’s lives. In simple terms, &SONS offers a range of garments sold online. What makes &SONS a true lifestyle brand is its purpose – which is to become part of the customer’s life, a brand they can depend on and use as a partner in their pursuits. Every item of clothing was selected for its functional benefits as well as its aesthetics. We then built a narrative around the modern day pioneer: an individual looking to make their mark on the world and determined to experience what life has to offer. The &SONS brand stands for freedom and celebrates the people who have the courage and the drive to go out and find it.
The name of the &SONS brand harks back to the well-established tradition of adding the words &SONS to a family business when the next generation joined the company. &SONS is about collaboration with like-minded brands who share our ethos and demonstrate the same single-minded pioneering spirit. This notion of partnership is deep rooted in the beliefs of the &SONS brand. It was always our aim to team up with companies that produced unique products which demonstrated the same essential quality of ‘soul’.
Finding the soul of a brand shouldn’t be based on demographics, market data or temporary trends. The ‘soul’, as the term suggests, should come from within and often it’s already there in the product waiting to be discovered. It just takes a good branding agency to reveal it, elevate it and tell the world all about it.