Over the years, certain brands, like Apple, have done a great job building their brand to sell a particular lifestyle, and their customers reward them with unwavering loyalty. Lululemon also does a good job of selling a lifestyle, as do CrossFit®, Harley-Davidson and Red Bull.
What these examples show is that a lifestyle brand is much more than just a product, service or business. We embrace lifestyle brands because we identify with them. What they stand for resonates with something in our psyche, and our purchasing choices are shaped by that connection. Once we identify with a lifestyle brand, it’s highly unlikely we’ll stray to a competitor. (If you’re interested in the psychology behind that statement, check out the way cognitive dissonance works.)
The great part of this is that you don’t have to be a big corporation to create a lifestyle brand. People who enjoy fitness and exercise already identify with living a healthy lifestyle. Since you offer a piece of the very thing they already connect with, you can capitalize on it by giving them a concrete brand to call their own. To help you do this, we’ve outlined three key steps below.
1. Clear Values, Mission and Culture.
To start, your studio’s values, mission and culture must be clear and easy to recognize. From your logo and studio location to the people you hire and your business policies, everything must be in alignment because these details make up your brand. If any of these things are incongruent, it could prevent your customers from being able to identify and connect with your brand.
Since most small business owners start small and build on their business as they have the time and resources, we recommend sitting down and thinking all this through. Ask yourself if everything is in alignment. Do your policies reinforce what you’re trying to achieve? Does your team know your values, mission and brand inside and out? Do they speak and act in a way that reinforces your brand? Does your branding match your studio artwork and décor? Work to make sure everything is in alignment and reinforces the lifestyle brand you’re working to create.
2. Content and Advertising That Reinforce Your Brand.
Next, you’ll want to make sure your messages, style and tone are consistent throughout all channels. The things posted on social media should be in the same tone and style as your website content, emails and print materials.
Often, small businesses will grant social media business account access to several staff members, and posts will end up sounding widely different. This can also happen with emails and other correspondence. To ensure consistency, create a simple brand guideline that lists key words and phrases to use, as well as those you’d like your team to avoid.
You can also get your members excited about advertising for you by creating and using fun hashtags. Ask your members to check-in (with the hashtag) on Facebook when they come to your studio, and run contests that reward them for doing it. You can also let your members do some old school marketing for you by printing car window decal stickers and selling logo clothing. (We talk more about logo items next) Just be sure everything that’s printed, shared and sold is consistent with your brand.
3. Activities, Events and Products That Excite People Who Identify With Your Brand.
Once you have the basic but critical foundation in place, start providing fun ways for your customers to live your brand. Whether it’s through free activities or retail products, extend the customer relationship beyond the walls of your studio. For example, Lululemon, Harley-Davidson, Red Bull and CrossFit® (our earlier examples) all hold events and sell retail products.
If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, think carefully about your target customer or studio member. Come up with a list of things they like doing, and see where your studio can provide the same or similar experience. Look again at your values and mission. See if there’s an overlap between the things your brand values and your members enjoy doing. Finally, consider products you can stock and sell for your members. They can be products that compliment your mode of fitness or things that represent your brand.
If you’re interested in reading more about Lifestyle Brands, we like this article about Lululemon and their ability to sell their culture with their product. If you’re looking for ways to better promote your lifestyle brand, get your copy of our free 10-Step Marketing Guide for Fitness Studios.