Red Bull springs to mind when the topic of brand expansion is mentioned. Primarily an energy drink manufacturer, they have pushed their marketing strategy to stratospheric levels (literally) – you might say they’ve ‘given it wings’. Red Bull live their brand message and it influences every element of their marketing. Rather than just promoting their energy drink through traditional advertising; TV adverts, print, billboard and social campaigns, they have invested in live event series, such as cliff diving, bull and air racing. They are the owners of sport teams such as the New York Red Bulls, Red Bull Salzburg FC, and Red Bull Brazil.
THE CHALLENGES AND BENEFITS OF BECOMING A LIFESTYLE BRAND
This strategy, while appealing to their target consumer’s, goes far beyond that as it makes the name Red Bull synonymous, not just at a local level but at a global one for adventure, risk taking, boldness, being daring and finally – being energetic within consumers’ culture. If successful, brands who shift from advertising their products to becoming a lifestyle brand become synonymous with their core messaging in the ‘mindspace’ of the consumers’ self-image – or more so, the image they want to project.
Recently both Jäegermeister and Vans have made moves to be broader lifestyle brands. Jäegermeister have previously launched a festival, called JäegerHaus, and has a music programme called JägerMusic which supports emerging artists. Now, they have partnered with Soho Radio to form Jäeger Soho and is set to reach over 100 million listeners. Not only will they do this through their radio and amplification channels, but the brand will also host live events including cocktail classes and tasting sessions, as well as gigs showcasing the latest musical talent. Nicole Goodwin, their marketing director, said, “we are seen as an edgy brand by consumer’s. But they are becoming more diverse, and so we want to engage with them in a cool way and engage with them rather than just broadcast to them.”
Vans have taken a slightly different approach. Originally firmly associated with the skate culture, Vans have launched a global campaign featuring influencers from different sectors, including athletes, musicians, and fashionistas. The aim, like Jäegermeisters move into music, is to show people a different aspect of the brand culture and to broaden its appeal. Fara Howard, Vans’ vice-president of global marketing said, “we wanted to deliver a campaign that truly shows how our mantra takes shape through various forms of creativity,” she added: “Whether that’s through music, surfing, skateboarding or customising a pair of shoes, all the stories told will communicate the distinct way in which Vans looks at the world.”
Becoming a lifestyle brand is not just the preserve of brand giants. Founded in 2008 by Danielle and Jodie Snyder, Dannijo is a jewellery brand that has grown rapidly with the support of celebrities such as Beyonce and Sarah Jessica Parker. The Snyder’s believe that the key to creating a lifestyle brand is ‘authentic storytelling…to create a successful lifestyle brand, you need to create narratives that are so compelling to consumer’s, they want to build your products into their lives’.
There are risks involved in the pursuit of becoming a lifestyle brand, though. The Journal of Marketing presented experimental evidence that the barrage of lifestyle brands can end up satiating consumers’ need for self-expression. Essentially the report showed that with the choice of so many self-expressive brands, it can actually weaken a consumers’ desire to engage with them as they start to view them as less personable, less relevant and less distinct. In addition, it puts lifestyle brands in direct competition with each other. Whereas traditional competition mainly focuses on product categories, because lifestyle brands compete for a share of a consumers’ identity, suddenly brands that would never compete for consumers are doing just that.
Whilst the risk is something to be considered, the merits of lifestyle branding, if done well, reaps an abundance of rewards. Becoming intrinsically ingrained in the public mindset means elevation to brand archetype – something embedded within the conscious and subconscious of the consumers. How this is achieved differs from brand to brand. From buying sports teams across the globe (Red Bull), to putting events on to attract people (Jäegermeister), to growing a fan base (Dannijo) – the approach is vital if a brand is to be successful in becoming a lifestyle brand. Once a brand achieves this, they then must maintain that status through continual progression and development. Brands must continously, and successfully, balance the demands of being authentic versus their large popularity to ensure their lifestyle brand status is maintained.