When tasked to build a lifestyle portfolio for a brand the challenge seems simple: How do we utilise a newfound strategic platform to take our audience seamlessly into the so-called world of the brand? Or how do we free up a brand with an existing strategic platform to confidently create a fully-nuanced lifestyle narrative?
A brand lifestyle portfolio is a cohesive representation of the brand’s visual, tonal and narrative expression or conduct in spaces or touch points that communicate or speak to a brand’s lifestyle proposition. It puts forward why consumers as individuals, groups or even cultures should engage with a brand based on shared interests, opinions, behaviours, and behavioural orientations.
Brand lifestyle portfolios could guide anything from content creation to extrinsic brand propositions dramatised in spaces or touch points like ads, activations, ambient, catalogues, packaging, in-store or on-consumption collateral, or even sponsorships, for instance.
Our current entertainment economy allows for brands to seamlessly step into a rich storytelling space. To step up to the challenge may be more involved than one thinks. That is, if you want to do it properly and deliver on strategy.
Herewith five steps to generate a brand lifestyle portfolio that can put the GPS into Great Portfolio Strategies.
Step 1: Who’s that brand?
Creating a brand lifestyle portfolio contextually engages a brand-identity expansion or even reinvention space and therefore continuous focus on what a brand stands for is vital for brand consistency.
So, although Madonna may have reinvented herself time and time again, what she stands for has always remained the same: “I stand for freedom of expression, doing what you believe in and going after your dreams”.
David Aaker, the father of modern branding, has set the table for enticing identity intricacies for any brand worth its salt to indulge in. He says identity construction would naturally start with the origin of the brand, its offering, its target, its value set, its tone, personality, symbols, essence and ultimately a positioning fundamental to its purpose, unique value propositions and competitive set.
It is therefore crucial at this stage to conduct a comprehensive competitor lifestyle portfolio review to understand category context and explore mimicking no-goes.
Step 2: Who’s afraid of the big black box?
The father of marketing, Philip Kotler, proposed a consumer behaviour model dubbed The Black Box model. This refers to the uncontrollable mind space dictating the behaviour of a fickle consumer decoding intended marketing stimuli.
A brand’s lifestyle proposition that understands the motivation behind the behaviours of the exact audience it aims to target could shine a light into this proverbial black box and comfortably compose, reflect or influence these behaviours.
Once carefully moving into this motivation-orientated behavioural space, a lifestyle portfolio can hit the ground running by taking the baton from the brand identity design.
A lifestyle space is more emotive and interpretive in nature and therefore psychographics should be looked at from not only a target audience’s personal viewpoints but also from a view on the brand.
Personal motivators, beliefs, perceptions, opinions and stance on choice of brand and intended brand experiences crafts a picture to be applied directly on how the target consumer would approach the brand. Telling would be the target consumer’s key outtake from the brand’s value proposition and stance on choice of brand.
Step 3: Dances with tribes
The lifestyle proposition is enriched by the delicate dance of social dynamic. Here the brand would need to consider cultures, sub-subcultures, tribes, social classes, influencers and influences to define the social space the brand wants to step into. This is important as a brand would either want to immerse itself into or disrupt an intended lifestyle space.
Step 4: Oh, behave!
The brand would then want to choose its behaviours in context of the behavioural space of its target consumer. That would include a take on activities, interests and leisure-related initiatives, for instance, even obscure or peculiar behaviour related to the brand and when, how and with whom the brand is consumed or could be enjoyed.
Or as Austin Powers would say: Sake it to me, baby! A well-crafted, imaginative extrinsic brand proposition would energise this space. Once this is established, the brand can conceptualise an accomplished, strategically focused and designed brand lifestyle portfolio.
Step 5: But is it art, Edina?
The ultimate portfolio would state the absolutely fabulousness of the brand – just make sure you confidently hang your hat on something profoundly unique. This should be something that it is line with the brand proposition contextualised from an emotive or even self-expressive proposition stance.
Aim to visualise the world that the brand lives in.
For example: in a Brand X World lazy Sunday afternoons are replaced by adventures like xyz. Changing behaviour, if warranted, can be powerful.
Aim to describe an ideal setting or occasion-based variety of settings, for instance. Define consumption or use occasion, time of day, who to represent the brand visually, the inter-group dynamic, the attitudes, the tone, clothing, style, filters, hues, colours and textures to use and the brand’s sense of expression grounded in vivid emotion. Even go so far as to assign five senses to a brand and any cues to evoke an intended emotion or set of different emotions.
It is important to create the world that the brand does not want to enter into and understand exactly how and why you are not playing into any competitor’s lifestyle space. Sometimes brands delight by batting the ball away from the game, meaning that brands move into a lifestyle space that disrupts the conventional spaces owned within category or that enhances the brand narrative in unorthodox ways.
This surely will break through commercial clutter and arrest attention in the way that the brand wants and can control. Think the vivacious space that Absolut claimed. The daring space Red Bull entered to become an entertainment franchise built around its lifestyle proposition.
Go forth and curate!
On the simplest level: Think of it as curating your ideal Instagram profile. Once your followers choose to open your storybook they would expect beauty. But beauty they can trust and that can position you clearly. This means that you must offer them consistently applied imaginative brand identity-aligned experiences that provide substance to a rich and meaningful lifestyle narrative.
Guided by these five steps for a Great Portfolio Strategy you’ll have the ability to propel your brand into sensible, inspiring and highly textured creative spaces. By setting your play pit boundaries adequately you are free to manifest your brand’s value proposition with impressive brand contact initiatives and gripping dramatisations that tell the story of your brand.
Marthinus van Loggerenberg is senior strategic planner at FCB Cape Town.
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