This is Not a Lifestyle Brand

April 11, 2016

"Lifestyle brand."

What was once illustrative and implicitly definable is no more. The term has been bastardized and bludgeoned to death on account of laziness and sloppy strategic marketing. It has become cliched and hopelessly ambiguous.

The North Face used to be a lifestyle brand. As in, a brand created-for and catered-to a certain activity - mountaineering, say - and it made perfect sense. (It's now too big for a single lifestyle, so it's *just* a  brand.) These days, though, your latest t-shirt company also claims lifestyle brand status, because "there just weren't any t-shirts out there that fit our lifestyle" say the brand founders.

(Ugh.  Really? It's not much better than a stick in the eye.)

It has become a meaningless catch-all and it's pure laziness that comes off as a little pretentious - or at least self-involved - which is usually never a good look for a brand trying to reach a specific tribe, unless it's 'the self-involved tribe.''s not easy this strategic marketing and branding business. Because you have to be something, right? For somebody, right? Well yes and yes, and when it's not as simple as being an outdoors brand, or a software brand, it seems you have to be "some-sort-of-adjective" brand. Because it would be silly to just say "we're a brand," and end it there; that's not very helpful either.

But calling yourself a lifestyle brand anymore is vacuous and usually nothing but mush. Civil Standard is a company that makes hats, but it's foolish to think our hats speak to a 'lifestyle' in a way other hats can't or never have. Instead, our aim is for Civil Standard to speak to an identity in a way other hats can't or never have. So in the quest for purpose and spirit of context, we like to think of ourselves as an "identity brand."

Pretentious?  You be the judge. It may not be perfect, but the scourge of the lifestyle brand has got to go.