On Lifestyle Brands (and how to build one for under 600 million dollars)

More and more companies are trying to expand into the ‘Lifestyle Brand’ category. Code for, “we’re probably not doing that well in our category, and invest a ton of money into another.”

You see it with apparel companies making podcasts, energy drink companies making apparel, fashion companies launching home decor.

It makes sense when a brand looks at what it does really well, and how it could leverage those resources to enter a new space. It’s how all of the tech brands – from Uber to AirBnB – disrupted unsuspecting legacy industries. Unique leverage is how the number one selling fashion accessory became the Beats Headphone.

How does a company inject itself into multiple categories successfully?

Interconnectedness

In the case of Apple and Google, they created a convenient ecosystem for users. They don’t necessarily dominate every category with the best product, they dominate with a seamless connectivity across categories. This part can be expensive.

Community

Does your audience have an outlet? Do you have a thing you do really well, and a place for those that love that thing to communicate? The platform is unimportant.

Take Harley Davidson, a classic lifestyle brand. They would be nothing is biker rally’s and motorcycle clubs didn’t embrace them. They made patches and leather jackets and saddlebags based on feedback and community need, not psychic predictions.

How can you, as a brand, harvest the profound knowledge of your community to decide where to go next?

And before that, how do you cultivate a community?

A goal

If I want to be fit, I don’t only work out.

I closely monitor nutrition, meal timing, sleep, stress. Most decisions I make, are made through the lens of, “will this help or hurt my fitness journey?” That’s how fitness giants succeed. They don’t only teach you new exercises – YouTube can do that all day long – they focus on adjacent areas to help your journey.

That’s how Dave Asprey cornered the Mental Performance market – starting with a strange niche product, a coffee with butter in it, and scaling it into a podcast, supplement company, etc. He cornered a niche market, built a die hard community, scaled based on their needs.

The Formula

Let’s assume we don’t have a few hundred-million to invest, the formula for expanding into a new categories can be:

1) Corner a very niche market: butter coffee, a digital bookstore, an online search engine.

2) Build a community around that niche, or a system that helps make it run seamlessly. Use your supply chain to quickly deliver books anywhere on earth.

3) Move into adjacent fields, either by Harvesting community knowledge or leveraging the possibilities of your resources or talent in fields that don’t have that efficiency. Amazon didn’t built the ultimate bookstore, they built the ultimate supply chain, shipping and server hosting company.

Lifestyle Brand = Goals + Leveraged Resources

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