Lifestyle Brands on the Rise

In today’s world, with all the information you could ever need at the tip of your fingers, what makes a brand stand out from all the rest?

In order to connect with any consumer, you have to know what’s important to them. You have to fully grasp the lifestyle they aspire and reflect that lifestyle. You have to communicate that you embrace the same ideals they do, not just that you have a functional product. A solution to this: lifestyle brands.

So, what is a lifestyle brand? By definition, a lifestyle brand is an ideology created by a company’s particular brand that pursues to embody the identities, interests, lifestyles, attitudes and opinions of an individual, group or culture. A lifestyle brand is achieved by focusing on evoking an emotional connection with its consumers, creating a desire for a consumer to be affiliated with a particular group or brand. Furthermore, the consumer will believe that their identity will be reinforced if they publicly associate themselves with a particular lifestyle brand.

Consumers view products they purchase as an expression of who they are and what they stand for. We are not buying products solely for their functionality anymore – we are buying products for their symbolic value and how they reflect us.

Let me give you some examples.

1. Nike

Nike has been an extremely successful lifestyle brand year after year. In this ad, you can’t even tell what product they’re selling. That’s because they’re not trying to – they’re trying to create a strong image for the brand that represents strength, inspiration, endurance, coolness, and pride. When one buys Nike products, they’re buying all of these aspects too, not just their durable shoes. 

2. Coca-Cola

Again, Coke is not just trying to sell their product. They're trying to sell the laughter, love, happiness, fun, friendship, etc. associated with the Coca-Cola brand.

However, it's not just the Coke's and Nike's of the world that are encompassing lifestyle brands. I recently read an article on AdAge where mouthwash brand Listerine is aiming to become a lifestyle brand. 

Johnson & Johnson's Listerine launches a global "Bring Out the Bold" campaign in more than 80 countries starting April 4 around the idea that people who use its products most are just more adventurous. A video ad in Asia shows a woman who "fears no food" tearing into crab legs, dried squid and crushed ice as terrified fish look on from an adjacent aquarium, awaiting their fate. Another shows a man who impresses women by cracking walnuts with his mouth.

I found it intriguing (and brilliant) that a brand like Listerine is aiming to become a lifestyle brand. It gets me thinking about the potential other everyday brands have to connect with consumers and fully grasp the lifestyle they aspire and reflect that lifestyle.


Amazon Dash - Paying for Convenience?

In today’s world, people want things fast and easy. Even the act of opening up an app takes too long to some.

Amazon recognized this, and boom, entered the Amazon Dash. For those of you who don’t know, Amazon Dash is a Wi-Fi connected device that reorders your favorite product with the press of a button. Each Dash button is paired with a product of your choice, and when you’re running low on that product, you simply just press the Dash button. The button is easily set up and managed through the Amazon app on your smartphone so a notification (if enabled) is sent to your phone every time an order is placed. Essentially, it is an extremely quick and easy way for customers to ensure they never run out of their daily essentials and products they love.

For example, say you notice you’re running out of toilet paper. As a full-time college student working two jobs, I know this is not a pretty sight for me to see – the last thing I want to do is make a stop to the grocery store to get toilet paper when I have a million other things on my plate. With the Charmin or Angel Soft Dash button set up next to my toilet paper, all I would have to do is push it when I notice I’m running low and, voila, Toilet paper arrives at my door 2 days later.

Amazon just added 100 new Dash buttons, tripling the number of available brands to consumers. Brawny, Clorox, Peet’s Coffee, Doritos, Playtex, Red Bull and Starbucks are just a few of the names Amazon listed among the new brands attached to its Dash program. With the additional brands, several new retail categories are now represented, including snacks, vitamins, office products, pet supplies, feminine care and batteries, as well as new beverage options.

The Dash button is automating consumerism, which enables brands to further permeate the homes of consumers and has the potential to forever change the way goods are bought and sold.

At first glance, I couldn’t want a product more. $4.99 per button for much needed convenience? I was all in – until I started doing further research. It turns out, these Dash buttons have some cons, and severe ones at that.

First, it encourages customers to thoughtlessly purchase items. Pushing the replenishment button becomes a mindless process that could easily lead to excessive spending. I know, for me, when I’m not actually using cash or swiping my debit card to make purchases (i.e., having my card on file at my favorite online shops), it doesn’t feel like I’m really spending money. I feel like the Dash buttons would have the same effect.

Second (and worse, IMO), Amazon only offers a handful of brands. It’s great that they have just introduced 100 new Dash buttons, but certain products have extremely limited brands – you can, for example, get a button to buy Glad trash bags but not Hefty, or Charmin toilet paper but not Cottonelle. If you look at it, Amazon can control exactly what people buy with these buttons. This also forces consumers into brand loyalty, and many, especially the younger generation, aren’t ready to commit to one brand. They enjoy shopping around, comparing prices and try new products. The Dash buttons do not allow consumers to do this.

Going off on how Amazon can control exactly what we buy with the Dash buttons, I read an article about a person who always uses Gillette Mach3 razors, but the Dash buttons available only offered Gillette Fusion and Mach3 TURBO razors, aka the more expensive Gillette razors. Amazon slyly forces consumers to choose a more expensive razor if they want a Dash button. If that person buys their Mach3s through Amazon’s actual website, not only can they spend less money on more razors, they can choose from several pages worth of other Gillette razor options, full of different sized packs, disposables, bundles, coupons, and more. Amazon’s Dash button interface leaves these money-saving details behind along with Add-on Items and Subscribe & Save.

With that being said, I think it’s important for people to be aware of these cons before purchasing any Amazon Dash buttons. If you’re aware and still willing to pay the extra price for them, that’s great! But for me, I’m going to pass – the convenience isn’t worth it to me. Maybe if Amazon offered the option to program a Dash button with any product I want I’d reconsider…



Four and a half hours, alone, with little variety in the landscape than the occasional hill. That is the drive from Minneapolis to Madison that I’ve made a handful of times in the past 3 months. While it’s not the most riveting journey, there’s something serene about it. When there’s little traffic and little for you to do besides staying in your lane, it becomes all too easy to become engrossed in your thoughts.

On my latest expedition back to Madison, I heard a clip of Seth Godin being played on the radio. It was from a TED talk some time ago. The topic of the radio show was how things spread, and Godin was discussing the spread of ideas using the example of ketchup, mustard and hot sauce. He pointed out that there are dozens of kinds of hot sauce, all very successful. Tobasco, Sriracha, Red Hot, Cholula, and Valentina all came to mind as hot sauces that I have tried and loved. They all taste different, they are all different takes and imaginations of what hot sauce could or should taste like, and they all are considered to be widely popular.

However, Godin was quick to mention that Ketchup and Mustard don’t have this same variety. It’s not that there isn’t a variety of ketchups or mustards out there, or that you can’t do something cool and unique with either condiment. Rather, it is because of the word otaku. Otaku is the Japanese word for people who are obsessed with something. According to Godin, part of the reason for the success of hot sauce brands is because hot sauce has an otaku, and ketchup and mustard do not. Due to that obsessive fanbase, hot sauces have proliferated into an industry where a brand can distinguish itself, be competitive and reach success.

Godin points this distinction out because part of the consideration of brands or ideas to becoming successful is putting itself in a position where their idea will spread. Ideas rarely spread because of the idea itself. Rather, it is the way in which it is presented and who it is presented to that will cause it to realize prosperity.

While this might seem like an ingenious example for a standard concept, only proving what we already know (that marketing is essential to an idea or products success), it got me thinking while I was driving. Can an idea create its own otaku or must it be prisoner to existing obsessive fanbases? If so, how?

Godin gave the example of Blendtec, the creators of “Will It Blend?,” the viral campaign where the founder of Blendtec, Tom Dickson, put various items in a blender that should not go in, seemingly to demonstrate it’s power. People couldn’t get enough, couldn’t stop talking about it, and the campaign became something where people wanted to tell other people about it. Basically, it created an otaku, because people became obsessed with the show. It was entertaining and ridiculous. So, one way to create an otaku for your idea is to take your product and apply it in an unconventional and entertaining way, a way that will get people itching to tell their roommate, friends or family about it.

That’s easier said than done though, and it struck me that I was somewhat limited in the amount of products I could think of that had achieved this. So there had to be another way. Now, the “Damn Daniel” video popped into my head. For the uninitiated, the video features two teenagers, one name Daniel, the other his friend. Daniel’s friend captures multiple videos of Daniel wearing white vans, and comments “Damn Daniel, back at it again with the white vans,” among other comments about his style.

Daniel and his friend went on Ellen and received a lifetime supply of Vans, Snapchat added a “Damn Daniel” geofilter, kids around the country were saying it constantly, even on college campuses. I wondered, what about this video made it so popular? Was it Daniel’s friend’s voice? Was it Daniel’s reaction? Did it just happen to get spread by the right people at the right time?

None of those seemed to be sufficient answers to me, so I thought of a different explanation. What if Vans had positioned itself as having the exact right identity to foster an otaku? I’ve never found anyone to be obsessed with Vans. They are relatively inexpensive, stylish and popular shoes, true, but I’ve never had someone vent to me about how disappointed they are with Vans new lineup, or give me a speech about how amazing Vans are or convince me that I should own a pair because they are the best shoes ever.

Vans did not have an otaku before, but they did create a consistent identity. The combination of inexpensive and stylish made it so that the shoes were very popular with teenagers, skaters, and college kids. Being rather easy on the wallet to replace made it so that getting a white pair wasn’t a huge risk, leading a pair of white Vans to become a staple amongst the younger generation.

All it took was one relatively elementary video about a topic that the entire youth population could identify with to launch Vans from being popular to having an extraordinarily widespread otaku. Instead of trying to identify an audience with an otaku, Vans stuck by their audience, stayed consistent and basked in the glory of viral social media when that audience doubled down on their preexisting interest.

So what can hot sauce, “Damn Daniel” and Japan teach brands trying to find success? How you present your idea, and who you present it to is paramount. It can define your sales, it can evolve your identity, but if you can grasp onto a consistent and ironclad vision of what you want to represent to an audience, it can transform into having a lifelong otaku that rarely fades away.

What The Superbowl Ads Can Tell Us

What The Superbowl Ads Can Tell Us

According to Adweek, total sharing of the 10 most viral Superbowl ads was down 36% from 2015, dropping from 4.5 million total shares to 2.9 million. Why did this happen? Timm Nudd of Adweek writes that the commercials may have “felt a little underwhelming—with lots of good ads but few great ones,” reducing the problem to a lack of quality. This perceived slump in quality could be indicative of a greater problem—a growing disconnect between consumers and the constant messaging thrown at them, evidenced by the backlash against advertisements on social media and the popularity of ad-blocking apps.

However, Doritos “Ultrasound” spot was shared 893,465 times, and T-Mobile’s 30 and 60 second version of their “Restricted Bling” spot were shared a combined 471,405 times. This means that Doritos spot was shared almost 200% more than the next ‘most viral’ commercial, so without delving into the ‘why,’ it’s clear that some commercials were able to connect with consumers. The problem with Adweek’s explanation is that using quality as a scapegoat assumes that if a commercial is compelling then consumers will share it. The problem with blaming widespread annoyance with the pervasiveness of advertisements is that people shared ads like Doritos “Ultrasound” close to a million times, a number that only two advertisements were able to break last year, one of which was a movie trailer (six of the top ten most shared ads were movie trailers). Advertisers are still able to connect with people, and they are still able to craft stories that are engaging, not invasive. Even from personal experience, there were many ads that I personally enjoyed and so did almost everyone else I watched with. But I didn’t share any on social media. Perhaps that’s the problem, then; not the ads or people’s perception of them, but rather the role that social media plays in all of this.

Let’s look at the larger picture. People have grown averse to the invasion of advertisements. There has been mass-groaning as ads have been introduced to some of the most used platforms and spaces in the world (Instagram and Snapchat come to mind). There seems to be a dwindling number of bastions of ad-free space online. Multiple ad-blocking apps have dominated the Apple store top 10 most downloaded chart (last September, three ad-blocking apps held the number 1, 3 and 6 spots on the list). As Patrick Kulp wrote for Mashable, “The people have spoken: mobile ads suck.”

Speaking from the perspective of a 22-year-old, mobile ads really do suck. I grimace every time I am forced to watch an ad on my phone. I release an audible sigh of frustration when I want to quickly show a friend a video on youtube but we have to sit through a 30-second ad that neither of us want to watch. That’s the thing: I’m not choosing to watch these ads, I’m being forced to. With the Superbowl, I watch because I want to. I watch because I enjoy the advertisements, and I know many of my friends like to watch them too.

However, increasing frustration with advertisements within social media has made me feel less inclined to share an interesting advertisement than ever before. I don’t want to add to the clutter, and no matter how compelling or funny an ad is I won’t feel inspired to share it on Facebook. This doesn’t mean that advertisements are evil or bad or even annoying. What it means is that advertisements and social media have a complex relationship, so measuring the overall quality or creativity of advertisements by the number of ‘shares’ seems like an outdated and unreliable practice.

Social media is changing. While I hesitate to indict Facebook, as I still frequently log in to check it out, I have noticed less and less of my friends posting things on the social media giant’s platform. Most people I know stopped changing their status long ago. Uploading pictures to Facebook has changed from something done immediately and with excitement to a burden perpetually put off for a tomorrow that rarely comes. The one thing that still pervades Facebook is sharing. Any given day, one can find an endless stream of articles, blog posts and videos that friends have deemed noteworthy. As powerful as this tool can be (see viral sharing of breaking events, or the sharing of locations/check-ins during the Paris attacks) it is a far cry from the interactive and social playground that Facebook used to be. In fact, those who overshare on Facebook often find themselves being unfriended, blocked or the target of internet trolls. As Facebook degrades from a medium where multitudes interact into a medium where the few interact and advertisers try to get in front of the eyes of the majority, people share less and observe more.

Facebook, and social media in general, are hardly static, and a real change is happening in front of our eyes as we turn from active sharers into passive observers. Facebook is turning into the world’s biggest reality television show. This doesn’t change the fact that social media is an important measuring stick and lightning rod for brands and advertisements. However, claiming that it wasn’t a great year for quality Superbowl ads seems like a statement that overlooks the real factor at play; people seem to feel less inclined than ever before to share within social media, a space whose current evolution must be taken into account by the marketers and advertisers who depend upon it.


Article links:
10 Most Viral Ads of Super Bowl 50 - Adweek
Ad blockers rule the charts - Mashable
Most shared ads of Super Bowl 49 - Unruly

The Year of Connection

The Year of Connection

2016 will be the year of connection. One might ask, “well, hasn’t that already been a mainstay of our society?” A question which I would respond to with an emphatic yes. Yet, this feels like a year that will be a bit different. There’s one technology that drives this seemingly redundant proclamation of mine, and that is virtual reality, also known as ‘VR.’

I still remember those rainy days of my youth where I imagined what virtual reality technology would look like. The only conceptions of VR that I could draw inspiration from were sci-fi film renditions of a dystopia where everyone chose to live in their fantasy worlds over their limited and boring reality. Back then, I didn’t really grasp the ethical hold-up of virtual reality, it was mainly just excitement at the prospect of experiencing the heart-pounding and visceral world of a special forces operator, or being immersed in alien and otherworldly landscapes that I would never get to see with my own eyes.

Then, almost as suddenly as virtual reality had become an imagined possibility, it faded out of my life, becoming an irrelevant and somewhat unpromising pipe-dream. That is, until the past year or so, specifically a few months ago. That is when I stumbled upon a Reddit AMA (‘Ask Me Anything,’ basically a forum for Reddit users to ask celebrities/famous thinkers/CEO’s questions) with the president of Oculus, Palmer Luckey. Oculus is one of the companies at the forefront of VR technology, and will begin to ship their headset (the Oculus Rift) at the cost of around $600 this Spring.

Also competing in VR is Samsung, HTC and Playstation, among others. These headsets are no joke, they are exactly what I imagined when I was younger. While the ethical debate now raging in my mind is problematic, that isn't what really has my attention. What captivates me about VR is the wide-ranging applications that are being rampantly developed.

While gaming is an extremely potent storytelling medium, it isn’t the sole benefactor of the pursuit of commercial VR as one might intuitively think. Film and television are increasingly transitioning from mediums interested in VR into mediums invested in VR.

The one thing that ties all these mediums together? Storytelling. The crazed interest in VR is indicative of the widespread desire to achieve historic closeness between storyteller and listener. In fact, calling the storyteller the listener/reader/watcher does not do justice to VR, as they are comprised of all three of those monikers. The VR user is an experiencer. This invention is far more groundbreaking than simply being a fun toy for those with the money to splurge. This is the creation of an entirely new method of storytelling that connects people to stories like never before.

The possibilities are endless, and as we’ve seen with technology in cameras and cell phones, it will only advance and evolve faster and faster in the coming years. I, for one, am on the edge of my seat waiting to see where VR goes, especially considering the potential risks and ethical questions involved. However, I am sure of one thing—the huge advancements and interest in VR show how important connection will be within storytelling this year. As the mediums we use become more immersive and technologically advanced than ever before, and as businesses become more invested in developing and transmitting their identity, this most likely will be a definitive year for digital narration.

What are your thoughts about VR? What do you think would be the most exciting application of the technology? Feel free to share them with us!


Lucas Weaver

Welcome to Brandbump's Blog, Brandbumpin'

Welcome to Brandbump's Blog, Brandbumpin'

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