Be bold and take risks. Leaders don’t become leaders because they stayed in their comfort zones. If you aim to become a leading, successful lifestyle brand, you will have to take risks, eventually make mistakes — as well as learn from these — and have in mind that there are no miracle formulas.
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 Caio Bersot, Content Manager with Rank-it.ca, a product review and collation website in Canada. He manages most of the branding, content and communications projects for the website. Caio is originally from Brazil, where he graduated in Communications at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). Since then, he has worked with multiple brands in North and South America to get their content noticed through digital platforms.
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”?
I was highly creative and imaginative as a child. I was born in a small city two hours from Rio where many expected you to work in the oilfields or with something related to the offshore world.
We used to live by the sea, and our weekends were entirely dedicated to spending as much time as possible at the beach, which was great for my imagination. It was all about biking, building sandcastles, fighting invisible sea monsters, drinking coconut water, and eating tons of acai.
Although those were lovely days, I knew at an early age that I was not going to live there forever. I always felt an urge to explore the world and see more than I was able to see in my hometown.
Can you tell us the story of what led you to this particular career path?
I do not want to sound like one of those people that say they always knew what they wanted to do, but I did, in a sense. It all started with a passion for reading. I was (and still am) a bookworm. I would spend entire summer afternoons reading and reading. I also loved to paint, draw, sing and write, so it was almost natural for me to follow a career path related to writing and creation. When I became a teenager and started to research my college options, Communications seemed to be the best fit.
Since then, everything has been about storytelling, creativity and providing people with a good experience, be it a traditional print newspaper article or designing the perfect user journey for a website, which is one of our main focuses for Rank-it.ca.
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?
Those are the glorious, awkward mistakes we never forget!
I went internship hunting during my first college year as I needed the extra money, but I did not know anything about the job market or how interviews worked. I started applying for many positions and soon started having job interviews scheduled.
I did my first job interview ever at this big media company in Rio, and although I had many questions, such as compensation, hours, and duties, I chose not to ask as I felt like I would sound unpolite or dumb, even though the job description did not have any of those details. Many weeks and a four-step hiring process later, I was offered the position and found out that the internship was actually unpaid, which did not fit my main goal at the time: getting that extra money.
I had to decline the offer and explain the reason why. That was when the hiring manager told me “Why didn’t you ask? We would’ve told you right away.’
That’s how I learned that there are no such things as stupid questions. If you have a doubt, it is worth it asking about most of the time. You don’t need to feel like you’re supposed to know everything. Also, do your research before a job interview!
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?
There is this particular book called Fragments, which contains Marilyn Monroe’s unpublished poems, intimate notes and letters. I was so fascinated with the book the first time I read it that I decided to turn it into my final project subject for college.
I always loved movie history, and Marilyn Monroe was one of my favorite Golden Age icons alongside Frank Sinatra. Fragments was a closer look at such a complex 20th-century icon
It was amazing to get to know more about this icon through her own voice. Marilyn was an artist, first of all. Many people do not know that but Marilyn was an avid reader (some say she’s read more than 500 books) and a talented poet. Fragments helped to redefine how many people see Marilyn, and I’m glad that her voice has been finally heard.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I carry one of my favorite life lesson quotes with me everywhere I go not only as a lesson but also as a reminder. The quote is just three verses from Walt Whitman’s masterpiece poem Song of Myself:
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
That reminds me of my complexity as a human being, as well as of the complexity in the other, whether colleagues, friends, or family members. People are not plain, people are complex. As a team lead, having that in mind has helped me quite a lot and turned me into a more empathetic person.
Every time I feel like I’m adhering too much to what people expect from me, or what I expect from people, this quote seems to bring more clarity and remind me that everyone contains multitudes.
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?
In the age of social, it’s getting harder to separate typical brands from lifestyle brands. Social media and influencer marketing have changed how brands market their products and how they create a brand aura. Still, it is possible to notice some differences between these two.
Lifestyle brands are not only interested in selling a product, they want consumers to see their lifestyle represented by the brand. At the same time, these brands want to suggest new lifestyles and make people desire, dream about that lifestyle. It’s a cycle in which both parts are affected, guided and motivated by the other.
What are the benefits of creating a lifestyle brand?
Creating a lifestyle brand means higher chances of creating a following. In other words, brand loyalty and connection. People will be coming back if your brand’s suggested lifestyle appeals to their taste and makes them want to be more. Lifestyle brands are the ones with the highest customer loyalty rates.
The main benefit is that instead of trying to market a specific product at a time, you can use your own brand as the main object of desire.
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?
Adidas has been one of the most well succeeded and beloved lifestyle brands for decades.
Older brands can have a really hard time trying to adapt to the times. For the past two decades, we’ve seen many luxury brands go crazy trying to appeal to the millennial and now Gen Z taste. Some succumbed to the 2010s logomania, others invested in street style, but most of them didn’t make it through quite well.
Adidas, however, does it efficiently and it doesn’t feel fabricated, although I’m sure they plan each step carefully. They have turned their lifestyle brand into multiple segments. If you like sports, artists, designer clothes, basic clothes, and anything in-between, you will find something for you at Adidas.
The brand has done a pretty good job of turning each of their categories into a desired lifestyle. They make consumers believe that if they buy Adidas, they will be part of the conversation and be modern, progressive, bold and almost young forever.
By crossing multiple worlds all at the same time, from fashion weeks to basic sportswear, Adidas has become the face of a generation. To replicate such a work, brands need to first understand who their consumers and followers are, and which niches could be explored from there. How many faces can your brand have? And how far can you stretch your buying persona possibilities? How can your brand make people not only have but also be something new?
Can you share your ideas about how to create a lifestyle brand that people really love and are ‘crazy about’?
There is really no magic formula. Even the greatest marketers have failed before, but consistency is key. Airbnb wouldn’t be a successful lifestyle brand if they provided travelers a bad service. And Starbucks wouldn’t have become such a trendy brand in the 2010s if they sold bad coffee.
Once you have a good reputation, you can map how to turn your products into a way of living. In that sense, it seems to me that influencers are going to continue to be increasingly important for marketers over the next few years when it comes to building a lifestyle.
What are the common mistakes you have seen people make when they start a lifestyle brand? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Lifestyle brands that don’t listen can’t succeed. Although the main goal is setting trends and suggesting lifestyles, their branding needs to be reliable, it needs to make sense for our times and it can’t feel imperious or forced.
That’s why I insist that building a lifestyle brand is working on a cycle in which both the consumer and the brand are constantly being affected and guided by each other. When that doesn’t happen, something feels off and people lose interest.
Society and consumer behavior are constantly changing, especially in our times, and although marketing techniques may change over time, listening will never get old.
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?
Do your research and dedicate a lot of time to benchmarking. Pay attention to the best and the worst examples. There’s so much you can learn from the ones who came before you. What do they do to stay on top? How do they manage their crises? The more examples, questions and answers you have, the merrier.
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.)
- A successful lifestyle brand needs to be convincing and attractive to people. One of the best examples of that is Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop. When she first launched the brand, everyone wanted to be Gwyneth and have what she had. Whenever people used something from Goop, they would feel like they were closer to living Gwyneth’s trendy lifestyle at that time. That’s why luxury brands, such as Versace, Dolce and Gucci, invest so much in concept stores, art exhibits and short movies. It’s not necessarily because these things increase sales, but they help you build an aura around your brand and generate desire.
- Expertise and authority are also essential. You can’t just build a successful brand around an empty concept, beautiful images and a weak product. You need to show consumers you know what you’re doing and constantly remind them why you’re the best in town.
- Adaptability is also essential for successful brands. You need to know the trends and be part of the conversation. We live in busy times, whether socially, politically, artistically and from a consumer behavior point of view. We need to do our research and make sure our brands are not tone-deaf or out of touch.
- In the age of social, listening to what people have to say is crucial. We need to not only listen but also show them that we’re addressing their concerns. Successful lifestyle brands need to pay special attention to user reviews, social media comments and media mentions.
- Be bold and take risks. Leaders don’t become leaders because they stayed in their comfort zones. If you aim to become a leading, successful lifestyle brand, you will have to take risks, eventually make mistakes — as well as learn from these — and have in mind that there are no miracle formulas.
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.
I’d love to see social justice becoming something as essential as oxygen, water and food for all societies. It would be great if we as a global community could switch how we perceive justice, meritocracy and fairness, focusing on more equal opportunities and stronger communities.
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.
Lana Del Rey. She’s a genius. And she’s pretty good with selling a lifestyle. Ask the 2011 Tumblr folks.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.