Create a community — Brands help us relate to one another by bringing together people that share the same values. The most successful lifestyle brands have a strong community and when they launch a new sub brand or product line, their community is there to purchase and share on social media, AKA word of mouth marketing, to boost brand awareness and perception.
As a part of our series called “5 Things You Need To Know To Create A Very Successful Lifestyle Brand”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kate Obert.
Kate Obert is a fashion stylist turned Chief Brand Officer who empowers 6–7 figure entrepreneurs to create a beautiful life you don’t need a vacation from through high end branding. She is fierce when it comes to mapping out the vision, strategizing and connecting the dots to curtate a full-sensory brand experience with ease. She services luxury personal brands & multi-brands to elevate the brand perception to stand out in their market & become industry leaders.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?
Absolutely, and thank you for featuring me in your interview series!
I grew up in a small town in Virginia but always had a big city vision. Ever since I can remember, I’ve always been into fashion, design and aesthetics and was (and still am) the go-to to all of my friends and family. I loved creating content and being in front of the camera, whether that was producing a dance routine, news show or fashion show to record with my sister. I went to college for Business Marketing, with a minor in Clothing & Textiles, where I also participated in our University’s fashion show. I designed & won my Freshman year, which allowed me to focus on using my business skills to build out the show (or, the fashion show’s brand) the remaining years as Co-director. Although I didn’t always know that what I was doing was called branding, I have always applied my expertise of building brands to everything I did.
Can you tell us the story of what led you to this particular career path?
I always knew that someday I wanted to be an entrepreneur but I didn’t know it would happen this quickly. After a move to Los Angeles and no call backs for hundreds of jobs I applied to, I had to take action on what I could. I loved the idea of working for myself, creating my own schedule, living life on my own terms and making as much money as I wanted (not what someone else thought you were worth). With those thoughts in mind, I sat down and wrote a list of everything I was great at. I then asked 10 of my closest friends and family to share with me what they thought I was best at and what they thought was my unique ability. (Essentially, I was doing a brand audit of myself and feeling out the brand’s perception.) Fast forward, I realized that my unique ability was in understanding how to build an aesthetic brand. Through multiple iterations of taking messy action and adjusting as I go, Kate Obert, LLC was born. What I’m doing now is slightly different than what I set out to do and it’s all because I tuned out all the noise of what other people were doing and listened to how I wanted to run things. This is exactly what sets me apart from every other brand strategist — I’m a Chief Brand Officer for 6–7 figure entrepreneurs & my specialty is in rebrands and creating full-sensory brand experiences. I help my clients with everything from the foundational elements of their brand to image styling, brand shoots, content and so on. I tap into all of my unique expertises with my clients, which helps them to become the luxury in their market.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Of course it’s not funny when it’s happening but looking back, I tried to have a plan. I thought I needed everything in place before starting and that only stunted my growth. I came up with a fancy business plan and program that wasn’t market tested, therefore I “wasted” lots of time, money and energy. I also got a fancy logo and website which I don’t use because I pivoted my business. The lesson I learned from that is to “date before you marry,” when it comes to business plans. Test things out before you commit to an LLC or paying for a logo design. Test out if your target audience understands that they need what you have to offer, if not, figure out a plan on how to educate first before putting a lot of time, money and energy into a program that when you launch, no one will buy.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Wow, there are too many great ones to list but the catalyst that started me on this journey, and a book that I’ve read multiple times since is, “You Are A Badass At Making Money” by Jen Sincero. This was the first book I read that made me think differently about money and providing value. We’re all so focused on how to make money but forget that money is just a byproduct of creating value. The more you focus on the value you provide to the world, the more money you will receive. I like to listen to this book on Audible at least twice a year, if not once a quarter, because it A. reminds me of where I started and B. keeps me focused on providing value vs. how to make money. Also, I love Jen’s writing style, it’s very down to earth and funny!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“The only reason you have the desire to be realistic is because you have yet to meet people with goals and a vision as big as yours.”
This was recently said to me by my Business & Life Coach, Elyse Conroy. When she told me this, it was such an ah-ha moment because it gave me permission to be even more of myself. The more I am myself, the more my business grows and the more opportunities become available for me. I’ve struggled with the word realistic for a long time. I had this internal struggle that I have these big, huge dreams for a reason but also, can I do that? Am I good enough, smart enough, etc.? Most of the people around me just didn’t get me so when I’d share about my big plans, their own lack of belief or scarcity would be projected onto me, but once I realized that it was okay that those people didn’t understand me and my big visions, I just need to surround myself with the people who have just as big visions, because we rise together.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. For the benefit of our readers, let’s define our terms. How do you define a Lifestyle Brand? How is a Lifestyle Brand different from a normal, typical brand?
A lifestyle brand is a brand that elevates your experience; they exist to show you what’s possible. A normal, typical brand sells you products, a lifestyle brand sells you on a feeling.
What are the benefits of creating a lifestyle brand?
When you create a lifestyle brand, you share with your audience an entire full-sensory experience, very detailed and specific, on how they can conduct their life. When you paint a very specific picture, you take the complexity out for your customer where they can envision themselves using your product. You also give them pointers on how to use the product and why it’ll make them feel a certain way. You’re teaching your customers that they will be in a special, perhaps elite, club by using your product, which then you’re able to demand a higher price, all based on the aesthetic experience.
In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job building a believable and beloved Lifestyle Brand? What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?
I love the brand Summer Fridays. They have done an incredible job with inviting you into their laid-back glam lifestyle. Right away the color palette makes you feel calm. You then see through their content that it’s a premium product because of the placement of their product with other brands (i.e Chanel bag, APL tennis shoes). Summer Friday’s is a beauty brand but they’ve leveraged their brand into another category of fashion with launching their chic, sweatpant & sweatshirt matching set in their brand colors. I’m impressed with Summer Friday’s because through the use of on-brand imagery that seemingly have nothing to do with their brand (i.e ocean, champagne), they’ve created a full-sensory experience for me.
Take a page out of Summer Friday’s book and understand your brand’s silent ambassadors and brand essence to create content from. How can you share with your audience that you are a premium brand without saying that? Perhaps some other product placement?
Can you share your ideas about how to create a lifestyle brand that people really love and are ‘crazy about’?
A lifestyle brand is a healthy balance between being approachable and showing your customers what life could look like if they used your product. Where I feel a lot of brands miss the mark is that their content is aspirational but it lacks a lot of value. There are so many other brands nowadays that do similar things, how you set yourself apart is by creating full-sensory brand experiences that provide a lot of tangible value.
What are the common mistakes you have seen people make when they start a lifestyle brand? What can be done to avoid those errors?
One mistake I see a lot, as I mentioned before, is brands are focused too much on only being aspirational vs giving tangible value that their customers can immediately implement and receive a “win.” If you’re a new brand, you need to earn your audience’s most valuable asset: their time; you can’t just launch your brand without any value substance besides telling people what your product is, you need to paint the picture of how it will make them feel. It’s human nature to share with others our great experiences and we all know that word of mouth marketing is the best, so when you quickly give your customers something that enhances their life, they’ll share you with more people.
The second mistake I see a lot of lifestyle brands make is they try to do too much at once. You can be a beauty brand with multiple products, have a fashion line, host a podcast and do all the things but when you launch your brand, focus on building your brand with one product at a time (at least publicly). It’s in our blood as entrepreneurs to be into multiple things and you can always be working on new ideas behind the scenes, but introducing too many things at once will not only split your focus but it will also split the focus of your audience. Teach your audience what your brand is all about, then get them comfortable with each product because introducing another.
Let’s imagine that someone reading this interview has an idea for a lifestyle brand that they would like to develop. What are the first few steps that you would recommend that they take?
Build the foundational elements of your brand first! Most people miss this step because they want to jump to the glitz and glamour of designing a logo, choosing colors and building a website, but you’ll never be able to successfully choose the aesthetics if you don’t know what they’re based on. Start with asking yourself: What are your brand’s core values and brand essence? Who are you trying to attract? How do you want them to feel? After you determine the foundation, match the aesthetic elements to the foundation; using color psychology, which colors evoke the emotions you want and line up with your brand’s essence?
Ok. Thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our discussion. What are your “5 Things You Need To Know To Create A Very Successful Lifestyle Brand” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Take the complexity out for the customer
Your brand should be clear and impactful, speaking directly to your target audience. If your brand is confusing, if people don’t understand what it is, how to use it, what it’s for, you’ll lose them and they’ll find a brand that immediately speaks to their soul. You only get one chance for a first impression, use it wisely.
2. Create a full-sensory brand experience
Building on my last point, you want your target audience to come across any touch point for your brand and know that you’re for them. When you portray your brand with such clarity and create a full-sensory experience for your audience, you’ll hook them. Most brands forget about taste, sound, and especially scent. Audit your brand and client experiences, from the moment they see your content on Instagram all the way to after working with you or purchasing your product, have you accounted for every single moment? Is it on-brand?
3. Give immense value
Aspirational brands are great but when there isn’t much substance about adding value to their life, your audience will quickly move on. What can you educate your audience about? How can you teach them something they haven’t heard before by sharing your expertise? When you give value, people remember and share that knowledge with their friends!
4. Collaborate and use your network
We’ve all heard the saying it’s all about who you know, and it’s true. Your network will be your biggest asset as you build your lifestyle brand but before you go collaborating with your Insta-bestie, you need to determine if the foundational elements of both of your brands line up. A collaboration is strategic — you’re able to be introduced to a new audience but the perception and core values of both brands must align! For example, Summer Friday’s would never partner with Skechers because the brand values aren’t in alignment; they would partner with a company like APL.
5. Create a community
Brands help us relate to one another by bringing together people that share the same values. The most successful lifestyle brands have a strong community and when they launch a new sub brand or product line, their community is there to purchase and share on social media, AKA word of mouth marketing, to boost brand awareness and perception.
Super. We are nearly done. Here are our final questions. You are an inspiration to a great many people. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
Always live life like you’re on vacation! We’re always better people on vaca, right? We experience life a little more, we’re focused on who we’re with, we celebrate more, we dress up… life is too short to live for two weeks of PTO or only weekends. My mission is to help people build beautiful brands (and lives) they don’t need a vacation from!
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
I would love to have breakfast or lunch with Jasmine Bina, the CEO of Concept Bureau! I discovered her last year on Medium, and have been hooked on her articles (past and recent) and her podcast ever since. I admire the way she interprets culture through the lens of branding and I always “walk away” feeling energized and full of new ideas.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.