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Authentic Expressions

By: Aniko Hill
Posted: June 9, 2008, from the June 2008 issue of GCI Magazine.

page 2 of 6

A lifestyle brand embodies the values of its target group. It speaks to the identity of its customers in a targeted, authentic way. A lifestyle brand is especially powerful because it allows individuals to publicly identify themselves with the brand; they are proud of the brand because it is a direct expression of their own values.

The key to successful lifestyle branding is creating an emotional connection to the market. Communicating product benefits and quality is not enough—there must be a bigger idea and an artistic expression to create the indescribable emotional connection that makes a person loyal to a brand. Although this is a somewhat ethereal notion, there are ways you can approach this as marketers from a very logical and quantitative process.

1. Research

Before any brand building can begin, the most important, and often overlooked, phase is research. It is critical to analyze what your competition is doing and saying to define and maintain your competitive edge. On the consumer side, it is important to know your customers from a marketing point of view, and it is absolutely critical to understand them from a product development point of view. If you don’t have a thorough comprehension of your consumers, how is it possible to create products or services for them—let alone try to connect to them on an emotional level? The marketplace is flooded with so much competition in every category, companies must not only evolve their brands but they must also keep their product fresh. A lack of commitment to either product or brand evolution can make a brand become stale—fast.