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How Do Brands Achieve "Lifestyle" Status?

Posted by: Sharmilee Rau on Monday, March 10 2014 09:56 AM
Victoria Beckham

What do The Remington Arms Company and Victoria Beckham have in common?

First impressions would suggest very little… but dig a little deeper and you’ll find that both are reportedly entering "‘lifestyle" brand territory.

The Remington Arms Co. started to leverage its 200 year history last year, as one of the USA’s oldest gun manufacturers, capitalising on its heritage, expertise and legacy in the gun market by developing a line of clothing and accessories - the 1816™ Collection. According to Ross Saldarini, Senior Vice President for accessories and lifestyle, the new range has been designed to “celebrate the Remington lifestyle… for the field and beyond."

Driving deeper emotional engagement with firearm enthusiasts, this new venture taps into an associated lifestyle. While there is significant controversy in America regarding gun policies, the brand's strategy recognizes an emotional connection intrinsic to the lifestyle of its consumers.

On the seemingly other end of the spectrum, after achieving success as a global fashion brand and, perhaps more significantly, acceptance from the famously closed set of the fashion elite – being recently named one of The Top 20 British Fashion Players by The Guardian – rumours have emerged that the artist, formerly known as Posh Spice, has set her sights on launching a more affordable "lifestyle" brand to be sold in department stores.

Anticipated as a brand for the masses, it will give consumers the opportunity to own a slice of VB’s lifestyle. Numerous other celebrities have adopted similar approaches in different guises (Goop anyone?). The general approach is based on packaging up the celebrity lifestyle and selling a curated version of it to the general public who are aspiring to live like their idols.

These two examples illustrate how "lifestyle brand" has become a catch-all phrase to encompass anything associated with lifestyle. On the one hand, it can be taken as a brand that extends beyond functional product features to display an emotional characteristic (attitude, value or passion) that people identify with as part of their own lives. While on the other hand, it can be understood as a more clearly defined way of life that encompasses the thoughts, feelings and behaviours of a specific group of people.

What’s clear is that lifestyle brands operate in much the same way as other strong, powerful brands – they are authentic, based on a clearly defined philosophy that’s underpinned by a clear set of values. They represent and celebrate ideals, creating deep emotional connections based on shared interests, attitudes and beliefs and they become a symbol of personal identity that consumers use to reinforce their own personal identity.

So far, so good…but what makes them different? A true lifestyle brand is so relevant and specific that it becomes incorporated into the natural rhythms and patterns of a life for a clearly defined group or subculture. Brands achieve this status by exhibiting a clear attitude that reflects a philosophy that influences consumer behaviour and choices. In this way they can become essential to that culture, often show-casing an idealised representation of a lifestyle and becoming a symbol for the lifestyle.

Sharmilee Rau is a Consultant, Strategy, at Interbrand London.

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