5 Tips for Building a Lifestyle Brand From Scratch, According to a Facebook Alum
Sara Wilson, a skilled brand strategist, recently schooled us on what it takes to be seen online—a critical component to building a successful lifestyle brand and business. Sara is a Facebook and Instagram alum with nearly five years of experience on the partnership team at the corporation, and she recently struck out on her own to help clients such as Bumble, WeWork, the New York Times, Bustle and National Geographic with digital content, innovation strategy and working with influencers. Sara tells us that she relates to others who are building a lifestyle brand from scratch.
“My biggest challenge to date was actually making the leap from Facebook,” Sara confesses. “After four and a half years at the company, I didn’t want to get too comfortable. Now, my days are like a 50/50 split between hustling and enjoying the freedom I have to do whatever I want, like a hot yoga class in the afternoon. I take more coffee meetings than I can count, which means I do a lot of driving around Los Angeles with some trips to New York, but when you’re building your own brand, I like to remember that ‘opportunities come in the form of people.’”
Sara’s quote comes from her Silicon Valley-based friend, author and speaker Ben Casnocha, who she believes is right. “Opportunities are not free-floating things; they’re firmly attached to people,” she explains. “Tend to your network (both personal and professional) with a lot of care, and you’ll never have a shortage of great opportunities.” Read on for five more pieces of advice Sara believes in, lives by, and dishes to her roster of brands and publishers regularly.
5 Ways to Build a Lifestyle Brand When You’re Starting From Scratch
- Nail your niche. “Don’t try to be all things to all people,” Sara cautions. What to instead? “Find a lane for yourself that is a reflection of your true identity and expertise, and if it’s interesting you’ll find an audience.” She points to Michelle Tam from Nom Nom Paleo (@nomnompaleo) as an example. “It probably wasn’t a given that the ‘paleo-mom’ lifestyle was going to be a thing, but she’s built a major brand by doubling down on just that.”
- Hone your voice. What about you is different, unique and relatable? Sara says to ask yourself what sets you apart from the flock and would help or inspire others. “I love The Home Edit (@thehomeedit) because Nashville-based professional organizers Clea and Joanna are as obsessed with organizational home makeovers as their fans. They couldn’t be more relatable, riffing about ‘champagne brain’ and ‘carbs not cardio’ in between their many travels to whip celebrities’ homes into shape,” Sara says. “Being authentic is more important now than ever before.”
- Have a go-to platform and personal aesthetic. With heaps of social media platforms to pick from, it can be hard to know where to focus first; but Sara suggests that choosing one and creating a consistent aesthetic can go a long way. “Instagram is usually the go-to platform for lifestyle brands, but YouTube is great for tapping into hyper-niche fan communities. Targeting Gen Z? Snapchat might be the right channel for you. Is your content highly shareable? Consider doubling down on Facebook. And know that video will be a major part of your content mix because that’s the language of social platforms today.”
- Embrace experimentation. With the overflow of lifestyle content on the internet, you might feel like you’re not adding anything new or exciting to the mix. To avoid feeling bored or boring, Sara suggests having fun with what you create. “Experiment with other forms of communication and formats that set you apart or are tailored to your community and/or products,” she advises. “Expand the definition of content to encompass more than what you post online. Can you add meetups, events or conferences to the mix?” Not sure where to find inspiration? Brands like Create & Cultivate host a series of events that helps them expand their audience, while we count our WELL Summit as a part of our community building.
- Empower your audience. “Great lifestyle brands give their audience tools and information to become better versions of themselves,” Sara shares. “Take this a step further by empowering your audience, however small it might be, to help spread the word about your brand.” She cites Glossier’s ambassador program as a job well done, noting that the trendy beauty company enlists 500+ people as brand evangelists who help them share products, news and more. “The program formalizes a type of behavior the company saw on their social channels and in in their showroom, which involved watching people make recommendations about products to each other,” she notes.
Need more tips on building your brand? Check out how to monetize social media, according to four influencers, or what brand founders will do if Instagram disappears tomorrow.