Creating a Brand Community
What Is a brand community and why should you build one?
To put it simply, a brand community is a consumer group that believes in the value of a brand and not just the products or services it offers. They have an emotional attachment to what the brand stands for, share values with the company, and are eager to recommend it to friends, family, and followers. It is a type of extreme customer loyalty that transcends good reviews or repeat purchases. Members of a brand community get something more than buyer discounts from identifying as part of the group.
From a company perspective, a brand community is one of the most powerful marketing opportunities possible. Here is a group of people that are expert word-of-mouth advertisers and will share information about new products, services, or special deals as soon as you announce them and with no extra expense on your part.
Why should you build a brand community? The commercial value is obvious. A dedicated group of consumers eager for everything your company has to offer is a great source of revenue. It is much easier to market something new to an existing customer than it is to attract someone who has never heard of your brand before.
The reasons why brand communities matter, however, go far beyond your sales figures and balance sheets. While you can get warm, fuzzy feelings about having a strong fan base, it is more important to look at your brand goals and mission when considering why the community matters. Successful businesses these days stand for something. Your followers and fans can help you achieve goals related to whatever that is — eco-friendly initiatives, an end to animal testing, fair worker wages, etc. — more fully.
How to create a successful brand community
The whole brand community phenomenon is a bit like the proverbial chicken and the egg. Which comes first? Do you build such an amazing brand that people naturally come together as a community around it? Or do you work hard to build the brand community as part of the recipe for company success? The answer to both questions is, “Yes.”
If you have ever done any marketing online, there are most likely people talking about your brand on social media or review sites already. These early threads of interest and brand awareness will either dissipate or will form the foundation of a strong community. What does it take to make the second option happen?
Give your brand an identity
Things like recognizable logos, color schemes, and graphic design elements all help improve brand recognition. People buy brand-labeled clothing all the time simply to show that they are part of that community. These factors matter when defining the brand. However, things like company culture, personality, voice, and values matter too. This process determines what your brand will be known for, which will in turn attract people who care about the same things.
Choose the best community-building platforms
Where does your target audience already hang out? In most cases, groups of people come together on social media platforms these days. You already use them for marketing, now extend your efforts to community-building as well. Also, consider social apps and on-site forums.
Offer concrete benefits members
People initially join a community because they get something out of it. There is nothing wrong with boosting numbers with member discounts, reward programs, or freebies. Make sure to frame these things as thank-yous rather than bribes for getting involved.
Interact and engage in a more personal manner
Always remember that the strongest brand communities are formed by people who get something intangible from being part of the group. Consumers want to hear from the people behind the business. Interact, respond to comments, answer questions, share progress toward non-sales goals, ask for feedback, and nurture relationships.
Examples of well-known brands who benefit their loyal communities
Most people can identify dozens of brands, but recognition is only one small part of customer loyalty. The following companies have the strongest brand communities around, and this is possible because of the benefits they provide.
Many people identify themselves as iPhone or MacBook user or adopt an anti-android/PC mindset in service to the Apple brand. They provide great tech gadgets and computing capabilities but also a sense of style and trendiness that continues year after year.
The camaraderie felt between Harley motorcycle owners has existed for decades. The company pushes the brand community aspect with frequent events and meetups, global rides for both fun and charities, and tangible benefits like roadside assistance and merchandise.
This beauty and skincare chain has built its community around style and a certain level of elitism. There are less expensive cosmetics and creams, but the brand exudes an aura of prestige and trendiness through influencer marketing and beauty tips and talk.
No other brand on Earth has created a stronger community than Disney. While they offer a massive collection of entertainment options, products, and experiences, they also inspire a nearly cult-like following. Fan clubs, character to customer interactions, and deep emotion associated with childhood memories that last forever are key points in their brand identity.
While your brand may never rise to the heights of these iconic examples, encouraging fans to engage with your business can only benefit everyone involved. Want to get started boosting your customer loyalty by building a brand community for your company or personal project? Contact the Sketchy Digital team to schedule a call or order a design from our experienced and creative illustrators and designers.