Using Branding to Sell a Lifestyle
In the latest chapter in our series about branding, we’ll discuss how companies construct their brands in order to sell a lifestyle, how they implement ad campaigns to reach their target market, and how you can get the ball rolling in your own organization to use branding to sell a lifestyle.
Power of Lifestyle Branding
Think of the last few things that you bought, big or small—a new car, high-tech laptop, a trendy pair of shoes, even a certain type of alcohol. All of these items have one thing in common: the companies manufacturing them are all working to sell you a certain lifestyle.
Car manufacturers want you to feel like you deserve luxury, tech brands want you to feel like you’re in the know and hip, clothing and fashion labels want you to feel attractive and fashionable, and food and beverage companies are selling you an image of what you want to be.
OneIMS Branding Tool Kit
They will latch onto aspirations of a certain group and sell that lifestyle. Most people know this, so how does it still work?
Consumer Lifestyle Branding Identity
A lot of consumers already know that companies market to them in such a way that suggests if they buy a certain product, they’ll have the same lifestyle as those who pitch the product.
For example, beer commercials have existed this way for years—men buy a certain beer, and beautiful women flock to them. Whether or not this ends up happening, the idea is planted in men’s heads that a certain brand of beer will make them more attractive.
Of course, this isn’t really a conscious thought—no one would readily admit that drinking, say, Budweiser over Miller High Life makes anyone more or less attractive.
The most successful lifestyle brands don’t appeal to one subset of people, either—take a brand like Nike, for example.
Though it started out as a strictly athletic brand, the company has over the years morphed into a company that produces not just athletic apparel, but clothes, shoes and other accessories that fit into athlete subculture and even things that may appeal more to people not playing sports, like the brand’s popular Nike Dunks, which are now more of a style statement than a basketball shoe.
Selling a lifestyle by way of brand is all about identifying what a consumer’s identity strives to be, rather than what it already is.
Successful Branding Examples
The most successful lifestyle brands are ones that, as mentioned, don’t necessarily appeal to one set of people. Take, for example, Louis Vuitton. The luxury brand known for its expensive luggage and handbags is popular among mega-celebrities, but it’s also a staple in large shopping malls.
In other words, it strives to reach people who are super-rich, but also those who simply want to be super-rich and thus will purchase these status-symbol products in order to present an image for themselves.
Coca-Cola has made a name for itself by selling, in essence, fun. Though their ads haven’t ever focused on one specific aspect of life, they always market a “slice”—perhaps friends are hanging out in the park during the summer, or people are at a movie together, or at the beach. The one common denominator in all three of those scenarios is that the people are drinking Coke.
It’s a versatile product, perfect for people of all ages and income-levels, but who doesn’t like fun? One of the reasons Coca-Cola has been so successful is because they successfully created a Coca-Cola-drinking culture via marketing a lifestyle that quite literally everyone is after—a fun one.
Apple is another example of a successful lifestyle brand. It markets to people who want simplistic yet clean-looking designs but also highly functional machines. It markets to people who want to be considered trendsetters, those who always have the latest products. Nowadays, people line up in the early morning to buy the company’s new cell phones.
People want to be first to have something new and popular, and Apple’s products have turned into that something. People who use Apple products are typically seen as “cool” or trendy, as well as affluent, as Apple products aren’t inexpensive. It’s, again, something that people want to be—financially well-off but still aesthetically “cool.” But that’s not what Apple always was.
Selling a Lifestyle
The company started out as selling a lifestyle of acceptance to people who were alternative thinkers, people who wanted a computer that was unlike anything else on the market. Their customers were people who were heavily involved in technology.
Maybe they were programmers or really into gaming, but one thing was for sure—not everyone owned an Apple device, and it wasn’t that people wanted them but couldn’t afford them; back then, most people didn’t seek out Apple products.
They were marketed towards people who were different—perhaps a bit outcast. Steve Jobs created a product just for them, and it sold. The Apple brand was one that offered a place of acceptance to people who maybe hadn’t yet found a place to belong.
It wasn’t until recently that Apple’s branding took a subculture into the mainstream. Even five years ago, the iPhone wasn’t as ubiquitous as it is today.
Lululemon is also successful in terms of selling a lifestyle. Though the brand sells yoga equipment and is most famous for its leggings or, as they call them, “yoga pants,” plenty of people who don’t practice yoga buy the products.
It’s pricier than athletic clothing you can buy at say, Target, is only manufactured in a small range of sizes, and the fact that it’s sold in boutiques not dissimilar to high-end fashion brands makes Lululemon the go-to choice for (usually) women who want to be perceived as highly fashionable, somewhat wealthy, and relatively thin—and the brand does tremendously well, presumably because so many women wouldn’t mind being fashionably, rich, and skinny.
These brands all implement ad campaigns to appeal to their target market. They create settings where their ideal consumer—the aspirational consumer—might be, and that’s where the advertising is. Apple shows consumers its new products at big press events, Coca-Cola gets advertised practically everywhere, and Lululemon apparel might be advertised at gyms and yoga studios in middle- and upper-class neighborhoods.
How Can You Do It?
It can be a tricky endeavor trying to use branding to sell a certain lifestyle. As you may imagine, there’s plenty of room for failure. It’s important not to try and market to an extremely specific group of people, because others may feel alienated—with Louis Vuitton, as mentioned, the boutiques appear not only in wealthy areas but also much more accessible shopping malls.
This gives a chance for people to be exposed to the brand and to learn about it, to get a feel for what it stands for and, perhaps most importantly, to learn about how much money they may need to save to buy in.
Start small. With advertisements that feature a variety of different demographics, you can start to get a feel for how to showcase your brand.
- What does your brand do for their users?
- Does it satisfy a desire?
- A longing for a different self?
Learn about your audience first. Show off not just what you feel about your brand, but what you want people to feel about it, and do so with confidence.
Appeal to your market’s emotions and what you think they are looking for in a product like yours. When you know what your brand does for the audience, all you have to do is present it correctly. It’s all about telling a customer what they want to be, and how your product will help them get there. Pinpoint what lifestyle aspirations your brand would fulfill, and market accordingly.