15/02/2023 • Andrew Lowdon
One of the most enigmatic marketing strategies, in terms of scaling your brand, has always been communities. They can be something to consider, at the very conception of an idea, to get the easiest results as you progress as a brand.
Whilst creativity and problem-solving is in no way limited towards forming communities around any kind of brand, some concepts are more difficult to entrance your customers into rallying around your product or service. If longevity is your goal, consider this point before creating your business plan.
There is absolutely zero reason to not pursue the creation of a community. Nurturing a community around your brand can result in something that becomes timeless, with user-generated content, assured buyers, or subscribers, to whatever you sell or offer as a service.
It’s important to differentiate between what a brand community is when compared to brand awareness. Brand awareness is a familiarity with your company, product, or service. It’s the same as going to a supermarket and choosing between different offerings. If you know a brand is consistent, you’ll opt to purchase that one over the others.
But a brand community is something different. What makes a brand community is an emotional, sometimes fanatic, connection that surrounds your brand, whether it’s been nurtured by the brand itself, or formed by itself from some need or reaction.
A brand community is always an extremely powerful thing to have. It essentially serves as its own self-fulfilling marketing tool, with minimal offhand intervention from your own efforts.
Of course, you can absolutely guide the direction that the community goes in by utilizing numerous engagement strategies. But left alone, they can nurture themselves. Be weary of this, as it may take your brand in a different direction compared to your original business ethos. It’s better to engage any natural communities that form themselves, as early as possible, so you can make sure they align with your own goals and targets.
One of the bigger benefits is that a community can contribute to the growth of your own branding. In the days of online media, it’s incredibly easy to find like-minded people, especially if they like your brand, and the products that you have go on to enable them to discuss their hobbies and interests.
If you provide a guiding hand, and can moderate a toxic environment, you’ll foster something that not only increases your reach, but it’ll also enhance your reputation positively.
It’s already easy to think about LEGO in the community brand context. LEGO ‘built’ itself by showcasing the creativity of its members, and celebrating the creations they come up with, by featuring amazing builds on their website.
Other members can vote for their favourites, including concept ideas for new kits, to which LEGO will then produce said kit. They’re also active on social media and do not hold back in making sure their members know that their creations are beautiful, interesting, and brilliant.
If you don’t know, GoPro create compact cameras designed to capture things that are action orientated. The founder came up with the idea to capture video footage of himself surfing, and common cameras, like digital or SLR’s, were too bulky and heavy to do that safely.
They’ve built their community similarly to LEGO. They feature the best videos recorded through their cameras and feature them. Furthermore, they have regular awards for their users, which encourages user generated content.
Whilst Xbox does indeed have its own community, there’s an even deeper level of their community that remains exclusive for their hardcore fans. The Ambassadors.
Xbox set criteria for this program, meaning that it isn’t something that you can jump into if you’ve not engaged with the brand a lot. It’s the role of the ambassadors to represent Xbox in tertiary roles, like community support and feedback.
In response, Xbox rewards ambassadors with free games, and beta testing new apps and software. This is a great example of Brand Advocacy, and shouldn’t be underestimated.
Viewing the examples above, you can see that a community can keep brands alive for a very long time. Brands like these go beyond a simple customer and company relationship, it invites a customer to develop an emotional connection to your brand, investing their own energies to become a treasured part of it.
Picture the scenario with LEGO.
LEGO has been a part of most of our lives, and it’s very rare that someone hasn’t heard of it, having been founded in the 1930’s. It was one of the best ways to show creativity as a child, and it’s something that adults could take part in. It was unique in its execution.
Our grandparents likely played with it. Our parents. Us. And it’s very likely that our kids, and our grandkids, will play with it also.
We used to be able to show off our creations to our friends and family, even if it was a simple, tiny little LEGO house. But now, with the birth of the internet, we can showcase our creations to thousands of people.
Because of the multi-generational interaction with LEGO bricks and builds, it’s universally liked. And now that it can be shared with people around the world, the boundaries of creativity have been pushed to the limit, showing the capabilities of the brand to people who wouldn’t have tried LEGO to begin with.
Building a community alongside your Brand can be a powerful thing. Whilst it can undoubtedly be seen as a marketing tool, it also acts as a form of social proof from the fact that your brand has connected passionately with people.
If you’re considering making your brand be more than just a message, a product, or a service, nurturing a community will be one of the best things you could ever do.
Just be careful. A lack of consistency can make irreparable mistakes. Make sure that you stick with your company ethos, and stay on a path that works. The benefits, in return, will be amazing and worth the time.
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