The lines between work and play get increasingly blurred every day. As a result, retailers are fighting hard to find the best way to position their products and services. Smart retailers have developed lifestyle brands . These brands speak to their target audiences' innermost values and desires. They create an implicit brand promise: if you buy our products you will [name your target audiences' desired feelings].
Check out some relatively unknown lifestyle brands that are creating a connection with their audiences:
Spreading soul one friend at a time:
In a few months Charlotteans will be able to take a voyage beyond vanilla compliments of Charlotte (NC) native Eric Polite II and his Soulmade ice cream café. In its tangible state Soulmade is an ice café and espresso bar, but it goes far beyond that. Soulmade is a lifestyle, a consciousness that recognizes the commonalities and links shared by diverse communities. In an effort to gain support and raise dollars for the project, Polite will hold several friendraisers. These personal parties will be hosted by friends of Polite and will give attendees a chance to sample the product. But just as the store is more than ice cream and coffee, the friendraisers will be more than a party. It will be an experience. Polite plans to develop a party host toolkit, including product, t-shirts and a musical CD that sells the Soulmade concept. In return for the experience, attendees will lay down cash to support the vision. While waiting for the actual store to open, you can get a piece of the experience by buying a lifestyle-inspired Soulmade tee at www.soulmade.com .
Gettin 'em through new media tools:
You've seen her hustling through the subway station in her Jimmy Choo stilettos. As the doors close she sits down, pops her mp3 player's ear buds in her ears, hits play and starts tapping away at the keys on her laptop. She is putting the finishing touches on the presentation she is scheduled to deliver in 30 minutes. Her phone buzzes. It's a text. She stops tapping at the laptop and begins to tap the keys of the phone. She's making plans to meet the girls at happy hour after work.
Who's that girl? She's a Get 'Em Girl.
A Get 'Em Girl is the essence of the urban woman; she sets trends and exudes confidence. Get 'Em Girls is a lifestyle brand that tells the story of the sassy, fierce, feminine, intelligent, provocative, motivated, chic, urban, nurturing, audacious, level-headed, diverse, unique, tenacious, fashionable, and technologically and brand-savvy woman. The brand was developed by three Get 'Em Girls to honor the spirit of the woman that knows what she wants and goes to get it. And they are gettin' it online with their website, e-newsletter, and Myspace page, which will soon feature a blog. Check'em out at www.getemgirls.com or www.myspace.com/theofficialg.
The lesson. Create a brand connection with your core audience by reaching them where they are. Create an emotional connection by making the brand speak to the desires of your target audiences. Use new media tools, like blogging and podcasts; and employ grassroots marketing tactics, like street teams and appearances, to help create the connection.
Great insight on new media tools from Kezia Jauron:
As PR pros we need to have our fingers in all of these areas. If nothing else, we need a rolodex of outsourcees/ vendors we trust and like who are masters in these fields. So far my clients seem to understand that we don't personally have experience creating these projects.
Certainly not all clients will find these forms of communication useful all the time. It would be rare that a B2B company selling $100,000 systems would need to have a presence on MySpace, but a personal trainer, realtor or entertainer probably does.
I tend to see blogs as distinct from YouTube and such, maybe because the medium is well established at this point. Keep in mind there are media blogs and corporate blogs. Media bloggers are often better journalists than journalists these days, and influential bloggers should be treated like journalists. Use one of the ranking engines to establish which blogs are most popular. Monitoring blogs for mentions of your clients is a service a PR person can provide alongside a regular clipping service.
Corporate blogs are a major area of interest. The CEO or another high-level executive almost _should_ maintain a blog on the company's web site to put a face on the operation and communicate directly with customers and prospects. Even though PR and marcomm people regard a corporate blog as just another fluff piece, these can be very popular, in the tech industry at least.
Corporate podcasts are helpful for communicating quick tips or how-tos, but I haven't seen them really catch on. Webcasts, though, may be a regular part of a big product launch or initiative. Stakeholders or analysts can view it live, and then the webcast is archived for later views.
Indie podcasters, if they're good, should be treated like other broadcasters.