Skift Take

Why are brands like Apple, Disney and Nike are among the world’s most valuable? Because they’re able to embody a lifestyle, offering consumers access to an emotional connection that goes well beyond their product offering.

Last week we launched a new report in our Skift Trends Reports service, The Rise of Lifestyle Branding in Travel.

Below is an extract. Get the full report here to stay ahead of this trend.

Building a lifestyle brand also has a lot to do with creating a community of likeminded individuals. But how does a business start to find and build that community, and how can they use their online content efforts to help it grow?

One example of a smaller brand that’s used its lifestyle approach to take on much larger, well-established competitors is Poler. The Portland-based outdoor retailer, which describes itself as “a brand created to bridge the gap between action sports and traditional outdoor activities,” has built a thriving business by catering to a community of casual campers that wants to connect with nature.

“It’s stuff that is made for people that have adventures all over the world while wearing jeans, a t-shirt, and sneakers,” said Poler co-founder Benji Wagner in a 2011 interview with Transworld Business. “It’s for people that wonder why everyone is trying to pretend they are going to do first ascents on alpine peaks instead of celebrating the fact that they are having adventures that are awesome in their own way.”

For Wagner, the insight into how he might build this potential community came from personal experience. “I would say we are embracing aspects of doing stuff outdoors, sleeping on the floor, in your car, on your buddies couch for example, that I think was being ignored by an industry too focused on hi-tech mumbo jumbo.”

Poler has reinforced this relaxed outdoor mindset through its various digital channels and presences. Perhaps the most popular vehicle is brand’s 417,000-follower Instagram account. Poler uses the account not only to post its own product content, but to curate entertaining and inspiring adventure photos from fans who have posted using the company’s branded hashtags #campvibes, #adventuremobile and #beneaththebrim. To date, Instagram users have contributed more than 643,000 posts to the #campvibes tag, 150,000 posts to the #adventuremobile tag and 9,000 posts to #beneaththebrim.

Poler has further expanded this lifestyle philosophy of laid-back adventure on its company “Adventures” blog, where it releases eye-catching photo essays showcasing travelers using its products during various explorations across the globe.

Taken collectively, the company’s digital content strategy not only creates free advertising for the brand, but also helps to cultivate a more inclusive idea of outdoor adventure for younger travelers turned off by more “elitist” outdoor clothing brands like the North Face or Arcteryx that are associated with professional alpinists. “We just really want to connect with people on an inspirational and emotional level, and then also make a great product,” said Wagner.

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Photo credit: Poler’s savvy digital strategy includes a series of hashtags, including #campvibes, #adventuremobile and #beneaththebrim, that encourage followers to share their own interpretations of the company’s laid-back outdoor lifestyle. Instagram

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