A Survival Guide For Symbolic And Lifestyle Brands

In an article on the Forbes website, written by Antonia Marazza, (co-author of the book, Lifestyle Brands: A Guide To Aspirational Marketing). In this article he tells us about the five main categories that symbol-intensive brands fall into.

  • Authority Brands - brands that typically fall within a narrow market segment and generally auto-directed emotional responses, making people feel a certain way. They are often based on technology patents or processes or highly distinctive styles, for example Illy; BlackBerry; Dr Hauschka cosmetics.
  • Solution Brands - the territory that most well-known brands occupy. Like authority brands, these often make people feel a certain way, but unlike them, they cover a wide range of consumer segments. Often, these brands were formally authority brands that started as highly respected products in a defined area, for example Microsoft, Honda and Sony.
  • Icon Brands - These brands carry with them powerful universal values or stories that are instantly recognisable. They prompt hetero-directed responses, making people perceive they have “become” something more than their usual status.
  • Cult Brands - those that are orientated toward symbolic excellence. They are usually specialists tied to a single customer segment or product category. They often deliver “social” benefits making people feel part of a group; think bikers, golfers, musicians. Harley-Davidson is of course a classic example. A product that is not necessarily the most advanced, but encapsulates the spirit of the open road.
  • Lifestyle Brands - those that truly represent the word by associating themselves firmly with a particular way of life. They deliver strong social benefits through which a consumer will be able to subconsciously answer the question, “when I buy this brand, the type of people I relate to are…” they create a sense of belonging or disrupt the status quo. So, Nike aligns people who want to push their limits. Club Med connects those who wish to communicate; The Body Shop, those who value nature.


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