A brand community is a group of loyal customers who are invested in a brand beyond its products and services. These customers want to be a part of the brand itself. The members of brand communities not only opt for that brand but also consume their content, do word-of-mouth marketing and promote the brand in every possible and constructive way.
A strong brand community strengthens the relationship of a brand with its customers, as it includes all the loyal customers of a brand in one place and offers a massive advantage to a brand. This leads to effective community engagement by letting like-minded audiences chat and communicate with each other.
What is a brand community?
Definition: A brand community is defined as a functional group or platform that brings together all the loyal buyers, users, and employees at one place whose interactions and movements are focused on brand growth. It is a group of people who are brought together by their collective interest in one’s brand, products, and the values that a brand stands for.
A brand community helps bring together like-minded customers. Customers like a brand so much that they want to be associated with it long after they have consumed their products or services. Brand communities can be formed by any small or large business and come right after brand loyalty and retention.
Characteristics of a Successful Brand Community
Some of the notable features of a successful brand community are-
- Integration and fulfillment of needs
- Shared emotional connection
Importance of a Successful Brand Community
Building a brand community has several advantages. A brand community is a powerful business tool. A brand can always reach out to its community.
With the help of these community members, a brand can ask the community to promote their products, check sample products, ask for feedback, etc. On the other hand, the customers benefit from the community by giving reviews, creating recommendations and favorites, suggesting products, or merely socializing together.
A brand community helps in brand awareness and brand building. Engaging with loyal customers creates customer retention and brand advocates. This is because, in a community, customers are usually emotionally connected with the brand. They use the products religiously, engage with the content, share it on social media and bring back potential customers.
How to build a brand community?
For most of the brands, some people already like the brand. One has to rally them together and provide a platform for them to communicate.
Not every brand can build a community as large as an entire country, but one can surely start somewhere.
1. Defining the brand
Defining a brand means what the brand represents, what it has a stance on, or what it can impact. The purpose is to connect to the target audience and be as relatable as possible. People always tend to gravitate towards the brands they feel most connected to.
2. Choosing a platform
Abrand community needs a specific platform to connect over and help the brand.
Some options of platforms to connect are:
- Online forum: An online discussion is a great way for a community to connect. All the loyal customers can interact with each other and the specific brand. The forums need to be updated and be interesting for the users.
- Social media: Is there anything that social media cannot do? It is probably the easiest and most effective way to build a brand community. One needs to create a group or page and ask people to follow. People can like, comment, share, use hashtags, and whatnot to promote the brand further.
- Affiliated programs: These refer to building communities on a platform that also rewards the customers. These programs are designed for the customers to engage themselves and earn rewards in return. Customers tend to be more assertive and excited to participate since they are rewarded in return.
3. Making sure Community Members Benefit from the community
Customers will only engage enthusiastically if the community is relevant and valuable for the customers. One should adhere to the likes and preferences of their customers and build a community that the customers appeal to.
4. Constant engagement
Building a community and gaining said platforms is not enough. A brand needs to keep engaging and make the community attractive. This ensures the retention of old customers and the joining of new prospective customers.
To know and grow with the customers, one should conduct polls, initiate live sessions, reply to comments and feedback, etc.
5. Promoting the community
People won’t find and start following a community. A brand needs to promote a community just like they would encourage a brand to achieve the target audience’s attention. Listing the customers’ benefits after joining the community is a great way to get people to join.
Another way and something in the limelight is getting the promotion done by a social media influencer. They will help spread the word and get more relevant people to follow the brand and build the community further.
There are hundreds of brands that have successfully built their brand communities. A product or service of a brand is temporary, but the relationship they make with the customers make a small company a brand. Customer loyalty and retention are some of the factors which induce trust in the customers. Customers hence help grow the brand further.
How to Identify a Strong Brand Community?
For identifying a strong brand community, the first thing you need to understand is that it is not similar to brand awareness or how recognizable a brand is, instead it is dedicated to motivating community members to Join, Engage and Share.
Therefore, if a brand community incorporates the following features, it would be a strong community-
- Customers, users, or audiences are excited to join
- Community members are motivated to engage within the brand community
- Brand community members act as brand advocates and share the brand content in their circle
Examples of Brand Community
Many brands have incorporated these techniques and made the brands who they are today. Let’s look at some of them:
Apple is easily the biggest consumer electronics company in the world. Apple’s success is not just due to selling a lot of products. It also creates an elaborate community that goes behind the purchase of products.
The apple support community goes beyond selling products. It provides a platform for the users. Customer-generated activities like feedback, service support and sharing of knowledge take place. It increases engagement by rewarding participants.
For more than 75 years, Lego made toys that were exclusive for customers in a closed innovative atmosphere. Over the last decade, though, Lego learned to build its community. Lego has proved that its popularity isn’t limited just to children. Lego Ideas is a community that initially started in collaboration with a Japanese brand in 2008.
It has since grown tremendously to become a significant product ideation community. Lego fans can submit construction ideas, and popular ideas are incorporated. Lego also consists of a global franchise consisting of movies, video games, and Legoland amusement parks.
Customers love to watch and contribute towards the development of the products they love. The lego ideas community provides the customers with that privilege. They accept product ideas, feedback, etc., from the customers. They also host contests and quizzes for the community to participate in. This creates customer retention and even brings more people to the community.
The Starbucks community has been quite active for a while now. The brand image of the company has been crafted accurately. The essence of their community begins the moment one enters their outlet. They refer to their baristas as Starbucks partners. This little detail makes the inclusion of the community wholesome.
Customers and partners share ideas on My Starbucks Idea, which has led to several implementations. Some of them are free wifi, peach tea, lemonade, etc.
This Paris-based personal care and beauty chain brand owns almost 300 brands that are sold worldwide. Sephora does a fantastic job of helping customers feel connected through their online community, Beauty talk. Beauty talk is a humongous online forum where customers can ask questions, share ideas and opinions, and have their queries solved by professionals.
Users can also upload pictures using Sephora products. These photos link to the product page of the products used. The said customers this way become brand ambassadors and inspire others to use the products. The management team of Sephora can help make constructive changes according to the reviews on the platform.
5. Playstation (sony)
The PlayStation community has done an impeccable job by providing a platform for the gamers to connect upon. The community offers a platform for the members to buy and play their favorite titles online. Playstation successfully created user-generated content, which came out to be an excellent strength for the community.
Playstation also later launched PlayStation plus, which provided access to premium features. These features included access to pre-released and exclusive games, discounts, referral codes, and community apps. Playstation paved the way for esports fans, enthusiasts, and leading influencers to come together over something they cared deeply about. It also rewards its valuable members with recognition and access to exclusive online gaming sessions. Now, how cool is that?
6. Harley Davidson
Harley Davidson has successfully maintained the name of being one of the most successful motorcycle companies for over a decade now. It has culminated in both formal and informal communities across the world. HOG or Harley Owners Club is a unique community. Harley owners share more than their loyalty towards the brand. For them, being an owner of Harley is a way of their lives, a culture, something that they deploy root for.
The brand introduced the Harley owners club to bring together enthusiasts and organize events and meetups. The Harvey owners club work by instilling the identity of their fans. It also provides exclusive benefits such as an invitation to social gatherings and events, membership of local services, among other benefits like insurance and roadside assistance. It has more than 1 million highly passionate members.
Oracle community connects millions of users worldwide. The people who use the platform, either for personal or business purposes, are included in this community.
It shares online forums where users can share their queries and come together for their solutions. Members can share their personal stories, form independent groups, build their networks and schedule their meetings. This community could be thriving because it is a remarkable technical resource for its users all around the world.
Airbnb was founded by two schoolmates in 2007 who started it by renting out mattresses. It has since grown into a multi-billionaire accommodation brand. The Airbnb community is a fantastic place that provides valuable and actionable tips to hosts of every size. It is a social platform, insight, and a place for support all in one!
Airbnb hosts let people communicate, share tips and tricks and even schedule local gatherings. Airbnb lets people create a platform where they can talk about things they are passionate about. Mainly travel and accommodation in this scenario. It helps people build relationships, learn about each other’s cultures and traditions, and become better hosts.
It’s a platform where people can share a laugh, vent their frustration, and even participate in debates! It can also help one grow their vacation rental business.
9. The SAP Community Network (SCN)
It is known as “the most extensive use to date of social media by a corporation”. SCN incorporates 2.5+ million engaged community members.
The reason behind its success is based upon the fact that SCN community members are highly engaged and they like to contribute time and expertise for growing the strength of their brand community
Start your brand community now!
One thing that all these brands have in common is that they know what their customers care about. Along with its loyal customers, the brand comes together in solidarity to form a community of mutual likes and preferences. It also means that brand communities are not what they are often perceived as.
Whether it’s through rewards, exclusive events, points, user-generated content, or brand advocates, the biggest brand communities bring their loyal costumes together. They give them the motivation to stay engaged and even allow them to share and create ideas for a better user experience.
With a brand community, a company can prosper with the expectations and needs of its most valuable customers. For starting your strong brand community, you need to interact with your customers in a manner that makes them feel valuable to the brand and motivates them to join, engage and share.