A brand community is the community of the people/users/consumers who are emotionally invested in a brand. The community members follow all of your content on online communities or social media, plus they also share your products or services and content with other people.
Albert Muniz Jr. and Thomas C. O’Guinn introduced the term “brand community” in a 1995 paper for the Association for Consumer Research Annual Conference in Minneapolis, MN. In their 2001 article titled ” Brand Community” for the Journal of Consumer Research (SSCI), they defined a brand community as-
A specialized, non-geographically bound community, based on a structured set of social relations among admirers of a brand.
What is Brand Community?
Brand Community is a business strategy that utilizes a group of customers who take brand loyalty to the next level. Community members like to be a part of the brand itself as they are invested in a brand beyond what is being sold.
For people in the brand, community loyalty is not the limit. They take it further by getting emotionally invested in a brand. Starting from buying products of that brand to engaging in word-of-mouth marketing for that brand, they make the brand strong. A company offers support and value to its like-minded customers by forming communities.
Steps To Build a Strong Brand Community
1. Defining a brand alongside Brand Goal & Metrics
One needs to know the core values, mission, vision, and personality of a brand to build a community. So, define the brand for which a community is being built.
People cannot become loyal customers if they don’t know about the brand in-depth,i.e. beyond its products and services.
2. Choose a community-building platform
Starting from Forums to social media, there are several platforms available to create a brand community. For example, a Forum like Spotify Community enables a customer or target user to engage in discussions on common interests that can either be related to the brand or unrelated to the brand.
Now, social media provides two options for building a brand community. Either people can have their pages or create a social media group for everyone in the community to join.
A brand can provide rewards or affiliate programs, small perks for the most loyal customers of a brand. For example, Starbucks provides free espresso shots or free drinks.
You can also use third-party community platforms like Mobilize or Slack to connect with enthusiasts of your niche with absolute authenticity and commitment.
3. Regularly engage with your community
For building a strong brand community, you should give your community members a reason to stay involved with your brand. You need to respond to any and all questions, plus it is important that you create discussion posts and encourage new conversations.
You can use different social media engagement tools for enabling you to not miss any post from someone in your community. This will help you nurturing relationships with all of your most loyal customers to optimize brand loyalty.
Misconceptions associated with Brand Communities
Some doubts and confusion are related to the Brand Community conception. For everyone, the concept is not so crystal clear. Some such confusion and doubts have been cleared here.
1. Build The Brand And Community Will Follow
This is a wrong notion because it should be: Build the community, and the brand will become strong. Brand communities are comprised of loyal customers, who all strengthen a brand’s position in the market.
2. Brand Community is a Marketing Strategy
Again, a wrong notion; brand community can be called a business strategy but not a marketing strategy.
More than marketing brand community contributes to the strengthening of brands’ position in the market.
Successful Brand Community Examples
Examples of some of the well-known brand communities are provided here for reference-
A world-renowned fitness apparel brand has built a strong community around its blog named Gymshark central, which largely contributes to its rapid growth in the business world.
New and Repeat customers both can avail their blog, which is full of health tips, fitness information, tutorials, and exercises. The brand’s blog has become a fitness encyclopedia for its members.
Starbucks does it a little differently. They engage their community members in initiatives like volunteer matching service. This initiative enables the community members to engage with each other and provide assistance to those outside the community and need assistance.
Starbucks believes in a community where users actively participate by posting photos to starting up contests.
3. Glow Recipe
It is often known for possessing the most strong community in the cosmetic industry; this brand has a blog that is referred to as ‘Glowpedia’.
Members are quickly drawn to its community as its blog provides skincare recommendations, tutorials, product reviews, to quizzes.
Members can find anything related to beauty on this brand’s blog.
Luxury yoga gear is the premium product of this brand, as it operates in the Athleisure sector of the sports industry. Lululemon engages its community members in free yoga classes and invites them to their festivals and events.
Through all these initiatives, the brand encourages its members to engage in a healthy and active lifestyle. By being a community member of Lululemon, one can engage in fitness with an ambassador program that features several athletes and fitness leaders.
5. Charlie Hustle
Charlie Hustle’s sporty t-shirt brand lets customers the chance to show their hometown pride by using their Kansas City dedicated clothing. Therefore it is not essential for a brand to have a global community, building local communities also helps companies to optimize presence and engage loyal consumers.
So, on the concluding note, it won’t be wrong to say that the brand community can benefit both the brand and its customers. Customers get privileges while a brand grows through the brand community.
Therefore, a brand needs to possess a brand community and engage in it regularly.
How fruitful do you find brand communities in engaging with consumers and optimizing conversions?
Pinky is an MBA in Marketing from the University of Mumbai. She loves helping people out in learning Marketing and sharing latest ideas and tactics for growing businesses.