Community building: Empowering brands through the strength of unity
8 min read
Seeking innovative strategies to distinguish your brand? An often-overlooked approach with the potential to forge stronger customer bonds is building a brand community.
By leveraging the power of community, brands can build deeper connections with their audiences. Whether through social forums or offline events, creating a sense of belonging can have a profound impact on brand perception and ultimately drive long-term success.
It is within communities that we find support, share our experiences, and foster a sense of belonging. The same principles apply to brands. By creating a community around your brand, you are not only building a loyal customer base but also establishing a support system that can catalyse success. By fostering a sense of belonging, brands can tap into the power of advocacy and word-of-mouth marketing, where satisfied customers become the driving force behind new customer acquisition.
The importance of community in brand success
I'd argue that community building is not a mere marketing gimmick — it's becoming a key component of a holistic brand strategy. It is a magnet, drawing in consumers who share your brand's values and vision. Unlike traditional marketing techniques that broadcast messages to a vast, often indifferent audience, community building focuses on creating genuine connections. These connections not only generate sales but also pave the way for long-term loyalty and advocacy.
Think of it as the marketing equivalent of building a house of bricks rather than a house of cards: sturdy, sustainable, and designed to weather any storm.
A strong brand community is built on trust, shared values, and a sense of purpose. It is a space where customers feel connected to your brand and each other.
And with so many digital tools at our disposal, building a brand community has never been easier.
Benefits of building a solid brand community
Building a community offers brands invaluable insights into customer behaviour, preferences, and pain points. Furthermore, it significantly boosts brand visibility, fosters trust and loyalty, reduces marketing costs by relying on word-of-mouth, and allows for real-time feedback and engagement.
Boosting engagement and loyalty:
A strong community fuels emotional attachment, transforming one-time buyers into repeat customers. A dynamic brand community not only solidifies loyalty but also drives engagement. Curating interactive spaces lets customers bond with the brand, fostering a profound sense of association, ownership and involvement.
Driving customer advocacy:
When customers feel a sense of belonging to a brand community, they are more likely to become loyal advocates, essentially doing your marketing for you. They feel personally invested in the success of the brand and are more willing to recommend it to others.
Enhanced customer feedback:
Your community can offer valuable insights for product development and fine-tuning your services, thereby increasing market responsiveness.
An engaged community can set you apart from competitors who are less focused on fostering authentic connections.
Cultivating brand ambassadors:
Customers immersed in a brand community often evolve into brand champions. Their vested interest in your brand's success makes them proactive in recommendations, bolstering brand advocacy.
Amplifying user-generated content:
When customers feel connected to a brand, they are more likely to share their experiences, stories, and opinions. This user-generated 'social proof' can be a powerful tool for brand storytelling and can help create a positive brand image.
Gleaning insights and feedback:
When you engage proactively with your community, you gain a deeper understanding of their needs, pain points, and preferences. Their feedback, rooted in their preferences and challenges, becomes instrumental in the enhancement of product, brand, and strategy.
OK, so who's doing this well already?
Case studies of successful brand communities
Lululemon has successfully built a community around its brand by hosting free yoga classes and fitness events in its stores (I think these have been stopped since Covid, though). These events not only attract customers but also create a sense of community among participants. Lululemon has successfully tapped into the growing fitness and wellness trend and has become more than just a clothing brand.
LEGO has created a thriving brand community by encouraging its customers to share their creations and stories on its online platform, LEGO Ideas. This user-generated content not only drives engagement but also provides valuable insights for product development. LEGO has successfully tapped into the creativity and passion of its community members.
Sephora: Beauty Insider community
Sephora has built a robust online community where customers can share beauty tips, product reviews, and makeup tutorials. The platform also allows for Q&A sessions with beauty experts. Beauty Insider serves as a valuable resource for customers and provides Sephora with insights into consumer preferences and trends.
Adobe's Behance platform serves as a community for creative professionals to showcase their portfolios and share work. It's a symbiotic relationship: creatives get exposure and feedback, while Adobe strengthens its position as a leader in creative software solutions.
Let's start thinking about how we can replicate these brand's successes.
Building a brand community
Creating a brand community requires profoundly understanding your audience and connecting with their values. Whether it's using online platforms like social media or offline events like meetups and conferences, the goal is interaction, engagement and creating a sense of belonging.
Building a brand community in the digital age has become easier than ever, but it isn't an overnight affair. It's more of a marathon than a sprint, demanding a sustained commitment.
Here's a quick blueprint to get you started:
Know your audience: Before you can build a brand community, you need to understand who your target audience is. What are their interests, values, and pain points? By understanding your audience, you can create content and spaces that resonate with them.
Choose the right platform: There are many online platforms, such as Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, Discord, or dedicated forums, where you can build a brand community. Choose a platform that aligns with your brand's values and where your target audience is most active.
Deliver valuable content: To attract and engage your community members, you need to offer insightful content consistently. This can be in the form of blog articles, videos, podcasts, or social media posts.
Encourage interaction: A strong brand community is built on interaction. Encourage your community members to share their thoughts, experiences, and opinions. Ask questions, run polls, or host live events to foster engagement.
Reward and recognise: Show appreciation for your community members by rewarding and recognising their contributions. This can be as simple as featuring their stories or testimonials on your website or social media channels.
Listen and respond: Actively listen to your community members and respond to their feedback and concerns. This will show that you value their opinions and that you are committed to their satisfaction.
Offer unique benefits: Your community is likely already aware that they can purchase your products or services. But what else can you offer that's unique to your brand? Beyond regular offerings, consider exclusive webinars, early product access, or platforms for them to share their stories. Such unique value propositions enhance loyalty and advocacy.
And, of course, remember, what gets measured gets managed.
Measuring the success of your brand community
It is essential to define clear metrics and track them over time to determine the success of your brand community. Utilise key performance indicators (KPIs) such as engagement rates, churn rates, and Net Promoter Scores (NPS) to gauge the health and vitality of your community.
Here are some basic metrics to consider:
Engagement: Measure the level of engagement within your brand community, such as the number of active members, comments, likes, or shares on your content.
Retention: Track the retention rate of your community members. How many members remain active over time? Are you able to retain them and turn them into loyal customers?
UGC creation: Measure the volume and quality of user-generated content created by your community members. Are they actively sharing their experiences and stories? Are they promoting your brand through their content?
Referrals: Track the number of referrals or recommendations generated by your community members. Are they actively promoting your brand to others?
Customer satisfaction: Measure the satisfaction level of your community members through surveys or feedback. Are they satisfied with their experience within your brand community?
By tracking these metrics, you can monitor the success of your brand community and make informed decisions to improve and grow it over time.
The future of community building for brands
Hopefully, I have convinced you that building a solid community is a smart option to consider for brand success. By harnessing the power of community and creating spaces for customers to connect and share, brands can create a sense of belonging, provide added value, and create lasting connections.
In the future, I expect community to play an even more significant role in the success of brands. So, embrace the power of community, rise above the noise and start building stronger bonds with your customers.