Lifestyle Brand Plan

Published by Colin Finkle on

The list of steps laying out how we plan to successfully create our ski lifestyle brand.

Executive summary | Abstract | TL:DR
A strategy is the best position for success, and tactics are how you plan to get from where you are to that ideal strategic position. How do you create a plan to build a lifestyle brand? Easy: work backward.

You may not have the domain knowledge to know every step, but you can ask your suppliers and hire consultants to help. Write action-oriented steps, and do not worry about resourcing and timing at this stage.

Take your time. This is challenging and overwhelming work. We show you our brand plan for Codename: Champagne Powder.
15 minute read | 2750 words

This article is part of our Lifestyle Brand Series where we explore how brands become associated with aspirational lifestyles. 
– Part 1 to understand what is a lifestyle brand
– Part 2 on Beats by Dre.
– Part 3 on DC Shoes, 
Part 4 on Arc’teryx
Part 5 on what they have in common
Part 6 we applied what we learned, creating a brand strategy for a ski lifestyle brand
In this article, Part 7, we make a list of action steps.

Now that we have our strategy, we can worry about our tactics. If our strategy is the position where success is most likely to happen, then tactics are the steps to getting there.



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In a military scenario, positioning a battalion on a north-west facing hill may be the best strategy to defend a town, then the tactics are the steps to get atop that hill: move south-east, bribe locals for passage, siege enemy encampment, and make way through the mountain pass. In a lifestyle branding scenario, the strategy may be to be the athletic wear brand perceived to be most authentically linked to the skateboarding sub-culture, then the tactics may be to establish relationships with top skaters, develop signature lines with them, and have them promote their on their channels.

We have decided that our ski lifestyle brand, called Codename: Champagne Power, for now, would be best positioned for success if we can fulfill this brand promise:

Codename: Champagne Powder is going to keep people clean, dry and smelling good through a suite of personal care products so people can spend all day on the slopes and be fresh for apres-ski.

Brand Promise

Considering we have nothing right now, getting to that position seems daunting right now. But how do you eat an elephant? One bite of the time. Getting there is just a matter of breaking it into small steps, and completing those steps one at a time.

How do you figure our the steps to create a lifestyle brand?

Easy. Work backwards.

From our previous exercise, we know what the end result looks like. We just need to ask a simple question to get our first action step: what step was taken directly before that?

There may be multiple answers. After we have that answer or those answers, then for each we ask again: what step was taken directly before that?

You keep working backward until you arrive at something you can do right now, that doesn’t require any previous step or resource you don’t have.

Example
One of the results from our strategy session was: “our products will be promoted through influencers in the ski-snowboard lifestyle.”

So we ask: what was the step taken directly before that?

The answer: receive signed contracts from influencers promote Codename: Champagne Powder, and send first payments.

We ask again: what was the step before that?

The answer: send influencers their contracts as per negotiations.

And before that?

Receive final contracts from lawyer

To continue the example via working backward: negotiate the contract, tell influencer objectives, get a show of interest from the influencer, send the product, ask to send the product, reach out to an influencer, get influencers contact information, identify critical influencers… finally, something do-able right now!

Domain knowledge

Creating your brand plan alone would be very hard. Actually, it’s nearly always impossible.

You may not have the domain knowledge to know what steps need to happen. That is 100% okay. You can seek the experience of people in other industries to get the steps that you are unsure of. They should not charge you for this.

For example, you may not know that a graphic designer is not going to be able to design a box unless he has a die-line, a file defining how the box is cut, from the manufacturer. You would need to ask a designer or a packaging supplier what they need and what they will provide to understand their place in the process.

You may also run into situations where you don’t know how to manifest something. How does one “make the products desirable to skiers and snowboarders.” Not knowing how to translate your vision into action steps is fine. Entrepreneurs are mortal! It just means that you will need the help of consultants. In this example, a branding or marketing consultant (we are available to consult!) may be able to help you translate your strategic vision into action steps.

Tips on Making To-do Lists

Making points on to-do lists is actually a high art form. You should see Leonardo DaVinci’s to do lists in his notebooks… assuming you speak Italian. (I’m kidding!)

Getting Things Done. The Art of Stress Free Productivity. From the New York Times bestselling author David Allen. An all-new and updated edition.
Getting Things Done by David Allen is a book that changed my life. Buy it on Amazon.

But there is a right way and a wrong way to make to-do list items. In the wrong way, the points and vague and no one is quite sure when they the action item is done. Do them right, and the action is in the bullet point and already seems half done.

Format: Verb + Deliverable
Your points need to define two things: 1) the action someone is taking, and 2) what you will have when the action is done. The items should have those things and be worded, so there is a verb followed by a thing. “Write tagline,” “design logo,” “register trademark,” and “standardize legal lines.”

How and What, not Who, When, Where and Why
Don’t get mired in the who, when, where and why. The timing and resourcing of steps might be part of a broader project plan later, but is going to inhibit the process now. One of two exceptions is if the Who, When, Where or Why defines when you know something is done. For example: “get sign off from legal two weeks before the shareholders meeting.” The other exception is if you are 100% certain this will be done by an external resource. 

One Step Per Checkbox
Some steps may be so linked with the next step that you want to merge them into one. For example: “receive die line from packaging manufacturer and forward to the graphic designer.” Fight the urge to do this. There should only be one action item per point. All points are linked to the action before and the action after; cause and effect are the nature of the universe. Combining steps will slow your planning down because it will be impossible to know when to start and stop grouping steps. Plus, when you get going, you will be able to check things off easier, and that will feel like you have momentum.

Make Steps Within Companies Control (as much as possible)
Write out your to-do list for actions that are within your control or someone in your companies control as possible. For example: don’t word a step as “graphic designer designs logo,” instead, word it as “receive logo concept from the graphic designer.” It seems like a small distinction but will keep your stress down because you are not taking ownership of other’s actions. You cannot make the graphic designer design the logo, but you can set expectations of when I would like to receive concepts.

WARNING!

This step can get overwhelming. Take your time.

Most of the entrepreneurs I have worked with have a personality type that has them look before they leap. They are not planners. Most of these people say: “had I known how much work it was going to be at the start, I never would have started.”

This planning takes a lot of courage. While you may have an easier time starting without a plan, i.e. ‘diving in,’ doing so will make you less likely to succeed and guaranteed to waste your time.

Making a plan may make you anxious and overwhelmed at times. When this happens, simply take a breath, stand up and walk away, and commit to returning in an hour or a day. The only way to do this is slowly.

The steps to create our ski lifestyle brand.

Result:
Codename: Champagne Powder has a brand identity that connect with skiers / snowboarders and are perceived as clean and fresh.

  • Write the mission statement
  • Define brand personality with adjectives
  • Design logo
  • Register the logo as a trademark in the US
  • Standardize trademark and copyright wording
  • Choose corporate colors
  • Choose fonts
  • Define image standards
  • Compile mission statement, personality, logo, colors, tagline, font choice, legal lines, and image standards into the first draft of brand standards book
  • Make final revisions to brand standards manual
  • Approve brand standards manual

Result:
Codename: Champagne Powder shows photos that focus on confident and carefree enjoyment of skiing, snowboarding and nightlife.

  • Find photographers with previous experience with on-mountain shooting experience
  • Choose photographer based on past work and fee
  • Have photographer sign an NDA and work for hire agreement
  • Share with the photographer the image standards in the brand book
  • Choose stylist based on prior work and charge
    Schedule and plan the photo shoot with the photographer
  • Go with photographer, and stylist to ski resort site and take photos
  • Work with the photographer on picture choice and edits
  • Receive digital files from the photographer
  • Apply adjustments in Photoshop, so all pictures have the tone stated in the brand book

Result:
Codename: Champagne Powder offers a unisex fragrance that emulate the smell of fresh snow.

  • Find labs that specialize in making scents
  • Approach labs
  • Choose lab to move forward with
  • Share with lab direction on the scent
  • Formulate concept scents
  • Market test scents with people in the ski / snowboard lifestyle
  • Choose final scent
  • Coordinate lab and manufacturer so that scent is in the other products
  • Find industrial designers with experience in fragrance bottles
  • Choose industrial designer based on expertise and fee
  • Receive bottle design concepts from industrial designer
  • Choose bottle design concept with consultation from graphic designer and manufacturer
  • Receive photo-real rendering of the filled bottle from industrial designer
  • Receive 3D files of the bottle from industrial designer
  • Send 3D files to bottle manufacturer
  • Find packaging companies
  • Receive die line from the packaging company
  • Forward box die line to graphic designer
  • Commission graphic designer to design bottle label and box.
  • Send label to packaging compliance expert
  • Have graphic designer make any changes recommended by the compliance expert
  • Send label and box designs to packaging manufacturer
  • Receive production sample from packaging manufacturer
  • Commission product photographer to photograph box and bottle
  • Receive photos of box and bottle from photographer
  • Have web designer add sales page for scent

Result:
Codename: Champagne Powder offers a clinical strength antiperspirant, an aerosol drying spray, a dry shampoo, and a hair gel.

  • Find manufacturers capable of making antiperspirant, drying spray, and hair gel
  • Send manufacturers request for proposal (RFP)
  • Choose a manufacturer to work with based on their proposals
  • Give design briefs to the manufacturer for antiperspirant, drying spray, shampoo and hair gel
  • Commission product samples from the manufacturer
  • Receive product samples from the manufacturer
  • Share product samples with people in the ski / snowboard lifestyle
  • Receive feedback from testers
  • Give feedback to the manufacturer
  • Approve formulations of antiperspirant, drying spray, dry shampoo, and hair gel
  • Approve packaging designs
  • Receive die lines for labels from the manufacturer
  • Send label die lines to graphic designer
  • Receive label designs from graphic designer
  • Send label to packaging compliance expert
  • Have graphic designer make any changes recommended by the compliance expert
  • Send label designs to the manufacturer
  • Receive product samples from the manufacturer
  • Provide graphic designer with product photography or renderings of all products
  • Receive catalog design from graphic designer
  • Finalize catalog of products
  • Provide web designer with product photography or renderings of all products
  • Have web designer add sales pages for antiperspirant, drying spray, dry shampoo, and hair gel

Result:
Codename: Champagne Powder will be offered in a gift set with a carrying case and a comb.

  • Commission industrial designer to design comb
  • Approve comb design
  • Send industrial designer product samples
  • Commission industrial designer to design a custom case for the gift set
  • Approve case design
  • Receive 3D files from the industrial designer
  • Send case design to packaging manufacturer
  • Receive production sample from packaging manufacturer
  • Receive label / box die line from packaging manufacturer
  • Send label / box die line to graphic designer
  • Receive label / box artwork for the label from graphic designer
  • Send the label to packaging compliance expert
  • Have graphic designer make any changes recommended by the compliance expert
  • Add gift set to catalog
    Send gift set to pharmacy and resort buyers
  • Take orders for the gift set

Result:
Codename: Champagne Powder products will be offered at a premium pricepoint.

  • Forecast order quantities
  • Send prospective order quantities to manufacturers
  • Receive quotes from suppliers for costs of goods, packing and shipping and see
  • Consult pharmacy and ski resorts on expectations of profit margin
  • Set manufacturer suggested retail prices for unisex scents, clinical strength antiperspirants, an aerosol drying spray, a dry shampoo, and a hair gel
  • Commission contract lawyer to word agreement with buyers that they will not discount any of the product (no discount agreement)
  • Have buyers sign the no discount agreement

Result:
Codename: Champagne Powder product to be carried at retailers in ski resorts.

  • Find retail display designers
  • Finalize retail display
  • Identify ski resort retail buyers
  • Reach out to ski resort retail buyers
  • Pitch interested resort retail buyers
  • Offer free display to retailers who order a minimum amount of product.
  • Have pharmacy buys agree that the products and never to be discounted.
  • Receive purchase orders
  • Pack product shipments
  • Ship product to retailers

Result:
Codename: Champagne Powder product to be carried at pharmacies.

  • Identify ski pharmacy buyers
  • Reach out to pharmacy buyers
  • Pitch interested pharmacy buyers
  • Have pharmacy buys agree that the products and never to be discounted.
  • Receive purchase orders
  • Pack product shipments
  • Ship product to pharmacies

Result:
Codename: Champagne Powder will show ads geographically limited to ski resorts and towns and limited to slightly before and during the ski season.

  • Write a design brief with pixel specifications for banner / Facebook Ads
  • Commission banner /
  • Facebook ads from graphic designer
  • Receive banner ads from graphic designer
  • Define season advertising window
  • Define geographical limitations
  • Run the Facebook / Instagram campaign with constraints
  • Run Google Ads campaign with constraints


Result:
Codename: Champagne Powder will be promoted by influencers in the ski/snowboard lifestyle.

  • Identify key influencers
  • Find the contact information of influencer
  • Ask influencer if it is okay to send product samples
  • Send product to influencer
  • Receive a show of interest from the influencer
  • Share objectives with influencer
  • Negotiate terms with influencers
  • A lawyer reviews contracts with influencers
  • Send influencers contracts as per negotiations
  • Received signed contracts to promote Codename:
  • Champagne Powder, and receive first payments.

Wow, that was challenging. But now we have some steps we can take to make the vision of building a marquee brand from nothing into reality, and that is the definition of priceless.

Conclusion Take Time and Be Kind. Your Plan Could be Infinitely Valuable

The brand plan step isn’t an easy step, but the plan you develop here could be the roadmap from nothing to a 100 million dollar brand, and that is pretty amazing.

However, no one gets rich or on business covers by making outstanding plans, well maybe Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos infamy. The challenge is going to be executing on this plan. The project is now atomized into readily achievable steps that you can conquer one by one.

Now take action to grow your brand.

  1. Commit to completing your brand plan by a specific date.
  2. Share this objective with a colleague, friend or family member and ask them to follow up with you before and on that date.
  3. Schedule hour-long chunks of time over the course of the week to plan your brand.

This assumes you have a brand strategy. If you do not, then you are not ready for these steps. If that is the case, read part 6: brand strategy and come back.

Full disclosure: This post contains Amazon Associate links. If a reader clicks these links and buys the product, Colin Finkle recieves a small fee from Amazon. This fee comes out of Amazon’s pocket, not the reader’s. 


Colin Finkle

Colin Finkle is a brand marketer and designer with ten years of experience helping Fortune 500 companies tell their story at retail. You can see his work at finkle.ca

2 Comments

Alan Louis · September 25, 2018 at 9:00 am

Really great article on Lifestyle branding. Keep it up.

    Colin Finkle · September 25, 2018 at 12:06 pm

    Thanks Alan. Keep checking us out. I am looking at Entrepreneurs Courtyard now.

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