Is it the Jordans or is it “Just do it”? What do you think makes Nike one of the world’s top brands? It’s their brand community. Any branding agency would agree, brand communities make all the difference. So, what exactly is a brand community? A simple answer would be, a brand community is a group of people who organically assemble or are made to gather pertaining to their interest in a brand. They actively engage with the brand and help it grow.
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Not just business
One must realise that the purpose of a brand is not just growing the business but also caring for its customers. Your brand community is present in the places that you aren’t and does what you can’t.
Influencers or celebrities can be appointed as ambassadors for this community while others bloom organically. The feeling of community and bond is what makes a brand loved and customers feel loyal. You may start slow but make sure to make a strong base on which a stable community can grow. Customers trust communities and a brand community gives authenticity to endorsement.
How a Brand Community Works
Before integrating a brand community into your brand strategy let’s understand how it works. For a community to function, two things are crucial-
- The right platforms
- The right amount of freedom
The people who form a brand’s community are interested in the product, service or mission of the brand. They talk about your brand, give feedback on your products, review and even recommend you to their friends and family.
They are your support on social media platforms and your first critics. A loyal brand community helps a brand build great goodwill. But when this community does not know what to avoid talking about it can become a problem. Keep an active presence within the community to get better insights into how the brand is being perceived.
Building Your Brand Community
- Sit and discuss the possibilities of integrating the brand community in your strategy with your branding agency. Having a brand community has many benefits for the brand’s digital presence. From a strong fan base to extensive reach, a community can amp up any campaign.
- Identify ways to reach out to your brand’s community, this will help you develop the community while benefiting the brand as well. The launch of a new product would give you a chance to send them the product first or send in custom options and gain feedback before launching.
- Community-centric events can be organised, this will help grow a healthy environment for the members of the community and attract more people. It is important for all the members to understand the mission of the community and to stay on the same page when it comes to discussions and talking about the brand. Brand guidelines need to be shared with them in this case.
- You can also assign the job of keeping the community space smooth and harmless by appointing moderators and paid ambassadors who keep a check. Social media platforms need to be closely monitored as a lot rides on the brand’s image in the digital space.
- Competitions and giveaways are the best way to rope in members that are interested in your brand but do not have an incentive to join the community. Give them something that keeps them connected to the brand and the community.
Going Beyond Building
Only focusing on increasing the number of members in the community is not going to suffice. Your brand strategy must include more than that.
Building + Retaining = Growing
Retaining members of the community is as important as adding new ones. In order to grow the brand community successfully, you must practise building and retaining with equal discretion. There is a good chance that the members who joined easily will also leave easily.
Maintaining momentum once the community is built is crucial. Engagement will keep the members interested while incentives will keep them intact.
Things To Look Out For
Digital platforms are subject to controversies and when the community is not controlled it can harm the brand. Brand guidelines regarding communication on social media platforms and what not to be discussed should be circulated and talked about within the community beforehand.
Make sure that the space is always open for people who are attached to the brand and have good regard for the same. Sometimes the existing community becomes rigid and does not allow new members to join. Make micro-communities to deal with issues of discipline.
Don’t treat the community as a mode of free marketing. Reward their loyalty at every opportunity you get. Your community can become the most powerful representation of your brand. Harness this power for promoting and shaping your brand.
Every community needs to be given a set of guidelines to walk through during the initial stages. Provide a sense of belonging to best hold onto the benefits that a brand community offers. Take your brand community’s feedback very seriously. This segment of the market not only stays loyal but chooses to give you the benefits of nurturing a community. Acknowledge their efforts and think about them while building the brand strategy.