Kat Whitfield Design
Kat Whitfield Design

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Design Principles for Lifestyle Brands

Lifestyle brands focused on health and wellness are some of my favorite projects to work on. (Hence the niche!) I love the beautiful imagery used, the sense of calm and happiness you can feel from the colors, textures, and copy. 

However in searching around for some solid lists of design principles or guidelines to draw inspiration from, I discovered that there were none I could find! So I've decided to go ahead and compile what I've learned from working in this industry just to get everything written down neatly. 

What kinds of industries are we discussing?

I'll be focusing primarily on the types of clients I work with:

  • Personal Trainers / Group Instructors
     
  • Private training studios (yoga, barre, cycle, etc.) 
     
  • Spas + Massage Therapists
     
  • Life Coaches and Consultants
     
  • Nutritionists + Holistic Health Coaches 

A big theme all of these industries have in common is their focus on the client as a person. Their services aren't about the client's business or career, or the client's wardrobe or their makeup or anything like that - it's about their life and their body. Who they are and who they feel they are or want to become.

Types of Imagery

Because of this focus on the client's real life, I find that real photography is often the most appropriate type of imagery for these types of brands. (The biggest exception I can think of being for infographics which are often far easier to put together correctly using illustrations) 

Think of the biggest "lifestyle" brands you know of - they all use real photography for most everything on their sites. 

Here we have two very different companies: GoPro (not what you may typically think of as a "lifestyle brand") and the infamous Goop - Gwenyth Paltrow's wildly successful lifestyle brand that sells products aimed at optimizing women's life and health.

For GoPro's part, all the imagery is real photography of the great outdoors. They are selling clients an idea of themselves as adventurous thrill-seekers. Note the #GoPro section at the very bottom for reinforcement of this - pay attention to which photos they selected to appear on their website.

As an example from Goop, we're taking from the Travel section of her website and we see yet again more real photography, inviting the reader to imagine themselves at these luxurious venues. 

Take a look at a few more examples to reinforce this: 

  1. Red Bull
  2. Emily Cassel - Female Life Coach
  3. Dolce + Gabbana - almost any kind of perfume, really

The types of imagery you pick will have to do with who you want to attract and the mood you want to convey. Are you leaning more towards a free-spirit bohemian vibe or do you want to attract the high-powered, high-class woman

Go Pro is clearly going for someone is (or wants to be) adventurous and exciting with their imagery, whereas Goop is going for that high-class (or wants to be) woman who seeks to 'perfect' their life.  

Typography

I generally find that the type of industries I work with go one of three ways with their typography:

Whimsical, flowing, handwritten and personal:

 

Modern, bold, elegant, with clean lines:

 

Or, finally, some combination of the two:

I think the handwritten look is so popular in these industries due to the very personal and intimate relationships with clients. Life coaches will get to know every facet of a client's life - good and bad. A trainer, masseuse, or yoga instructor will be up close and personal with a client's body.

Handwriting can help a client feel more at ease off the bat with these uncomfortable situations. The more comfortable you can make a potential client feel before they even get to speak to you, the better! 

As for the bold style - which would at first glance appear to be the antithesis of the handwritten approach - I think it conveys an elegance, sophistication, and orderliness most of us crave in our lives. The letters are given plenty of breathing room when in this bold style so as to not feel overwhelming. Instead you are drawn to the tall, thin nature of the strokes, which is comforting in its own way.

There will certainly be exceptions to these rules. A brand that wants to appeal to a more counter-culture audience, or just want a bolder, louder look will probably shuck these general ideas to draw in their particular niche at the expense of others. (A very effective marketing strategy, I might add!)

Color Palettes & Patterns

I've noticed in researching brands that there is a very similar color trend among most female life coaches. It goes something like this: 

 Sometimes the bold pink is a bold purple or teal

Sometimes the bold pink is a bold purple or teal

There's nothing wrong with these colors - they're popular because they look amazing together! Just note that if you're working with a lifestyle brand or life coach, you'll have to distinguish yourself or your client in another way. 

Patterns also tend to be pretty similar: 

 "Fairy Lights" are basically very blurred and  non-uniform dots  imitating the  popular decorating trend.

"Fairy Lights" are basically very blurred and non-uniform dots imitating the popular decorating trend.

Now these are trends I mainly notice just for female lifestyle brands and coaches. Spas and yoga studios tend to incorporate much more subdued colors and softer patterns (though the thin geometric patterns seem to be everywhere!). You'll find greens, pastels, soft blues and purples, and far more cream colors among these industries (depending on the type of yoga studio, of course):

Conclusion

I'll add more to this post as I continue finding bits and pieces that inspire me and that I can link to for examples. I'll likely expand upon the kinds of patterns and colors found in other lifestyle brands, such as personal trainers and spas. For now though I think we've covered a good base!

Kat Whitfield