The stakes for global consumer brands have never been higher. As companies like Apple soar to market capitalizations in the hundreds of billions of dollars, making them among the world’s most valuable, many in the travel industry are taking notice. What they’re grasping about the success of Apple, and other companies in this top tier of brand excellence, is their increasing embrace of the philosophy of lifestyle branding.
World class brands like Nike, Disney, Coca-Cola and BMW that succeed with lifestyle branding embody the interests, attitudes, and opinions of a particular group or culture of consumers. They do so by using their products and services to help inspire, guide and motivate people. Apple has succeeded not just by selling computers but by selling the idea of beautifully designed, consumer-friendly technology as a way of life. Nike, on the other hand, has gone from selling running shoes to a symbol of an athletic-focused community of competitors and sports enthusiasts.
Plenty of travel-industry brands like Virgin America, ACE Hotels and Airbnb have also carved out unique lifestyle brand niches as well. But creating a lifestyle brand requires a significant amount of commitment, marketing excellence and resources to pull off. For every company like Apple that spent nearly $1.8 billion on branding efforts in 2015, there are countless other firms in the travel space with limited resources struggling just to stay on top of the latest social media platforms.
What lifestyle branding strategies are marketers in the travel industry using to redefine their brands for consumers and differentiate themselves from competitors? And what obstacles do they face to accomplishing these strategies now and in the years to come?