The Various Faces of Lifestyle Brands

Is it just me, or is everything a “lifestyle brand” these days? By definition, a lifestyle brand sells a way of life that creates an emotional attachment to the consumer. After an emotional connection is forged, consumers often become brand loyalists or brand advocates.

Let’s look at 3 brands that are considered to be lifestyle brands. What makes them part of this group? How have they been able to become and sell a way of life?

 

1. Nike: The quintessential lifestyle brand

As a former collegiate athlete, I admit that I have an emotional attachment to Nike. Nike wants to motivate and inspire every individual to workout, challenge personal boundaries, be the best, to… Just Do It. Every competitor can relate to the Nike mission.

Furthermore, Nike has many of the all-time greatest athletes representing the brand. Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Serena Williams, Roger Federer; the implication is that the best competitors wear Nike, so if you want to be the best you should wear Nike too. These partnerships and accompanying advertisements reinforce and strengthen their lifestyle message. However, celebrity endorsements don’t guarantee success.

Nike delivers high-quality products with innovative style and utility. Lifestyle brands must first offer a quality product or service before attempting to sell a way of life.

 

2. McDonalds: The does-this-count Lifestyle brand

During research, I came across this article. Essentially, Kiley is asking “How is McDonald’s a lifestyle brand?” Good question. The word ‘McDonald’s’ conjures up adjectives such as cheap, fast, and unhealthy. To be fair, McDonald’s has made strides to become a healthier brand, but the question remains. If this is a lifestyle brand, does that mean that McDonald’s reinforces the attitudes, beliefs and opinions of those who aspire to live cheap, fast and unhealthy? Perhaps McDonald’s is successful because they offer a tasty product rather than a way of life. On the other hand, what if McDonald’s has created an aspirational lifestyle that has nothing to do with the product?

McDonald’s sponsors the Olympics, Justin Timberlake among others have helped to promote the brand, their mascot is the clown Ronald McDonald; through sponsorships and advertisements, McDonald’s has transcended their products’ connotations to represent what is cool, hip and fun. What an enigma. A brand can simultaneously promote a “hip, fun lifestyle” and a “quick, cheap, not-so-healthy” reputation, which arguably contradict one another. For any other company, I don’t think this could work but McDonald’s is such an iconic brand, somehow they’ve done it.

 

3. Brooklyn, NY: The ‘how did this become a lifestyle brand?’

HBO Girls Season 22When does a cool, artistic place become a brand? Moreover, somewhere that has gone from noun to verb and is mimicked by other cities and products. The New York Observer says, “…the point at which the experience is lived expressly to create the brand, rather than the other way around, is the point at which the jig is up.” In other words, Brooklyn-the-brand no longer mimics Brooklyn-life, but Brooklyn-life (and Brooklyn-wannabe-life) mimics what has become Brooklyn-the-brand.

Brooklyn streets and neighborhoods have inspired cafés in Amsterdam, food trucks in France, countless T-shirt graphics, and of course, GIRLS. This article discusses at length Brooklyn: The Brand and how other areas are “Brooklynizing,” even pointing out that everything we now associate with Brooklyn (small-batch production, period facial hair, fixed-gear bicycles) originated years ago in Portland, OR.

Why is this NYC borough now a brand? For better or worse, the Brooklyn lifestyle embodies the attitudes, opinions and interests of a larger group or culture. Brooklynizing can fulfill a consumer’s desire to affiliate themselves with this culture . . . even if they don’t live there.

In closing, the objects and organizations that each individual regularly interacts with forms his or her lifestyle. In order to be considered a “lifestyle brand,” a company needs to offer something more than a commodity. The brand should consistently represent a desired existence. They have to exude values and characteristics that people aspire to attain. It’s cyclical, if your organization represents people, then those people will want to represent your organization. That’s how brand loyalty is achieved. That’s why everything seems to be a lifestyle brand these days.

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