In an increasingly digitized business environment, marketing research shows that consumers are opting to engage with brands that offer a more human experience—one that creates deep human connection. Human connection is established through culture and is built through opportunities to participate and engage, such as social media platforms, online communities, and positive interactions.
Purpose and engagement are integral steps in building a strong brand community. Let’s highlight the facets of building a brand community and talk about some successful brands with strong brand communities.
Foundation of Building a Brand Community
The Harvard Business Review defines a brand community as a group of ardent consumers organized around the lifestyle, activities, and ethos of a brand.
Interactions between businesses and their customers are no longer just transactional—more people are buying with their values, their aesthetics, and their aspirations.
Define Your Brand’s Purpose
In building a brand community it is impossible to underscore the importance of making your purpose clear.
To determine your purpose, here are a few questions to ask:
- Why does your brand exist?
- What’s your brand’s purpose? What need does it meet?
- What are your “big picture” goals for your brand?
This purpose will serve as the basis of commonality for your community to rally around. The more you center your purpose around human life, the more relevant your business becomes. In turn, this leads to your community feeling incentivized and rewarded when engaging with your brand.
A perfect example of a brand community with a strong purpose is the cult athleisure company Girlfriend Collective. This brand exists as an environmentally and body conscious athleisure wear company. Think millennial-pink leggings made from water bottles and fishing nets!
Girlfriend Collective defines themselves as, “a sustainable activewear brand for people who care—care about other people, care about how their clothes are made, and care about making an impact through their purchasing power. Through ethically manufactured activewear, recycled materials, and our ever-growing community, we hope to help people lead more sustainable lives and rethink the activewear industry’s role in saving the earth.”
This purpose dedicated to environmental commitment can be seen in their transparency about the materials used for their clothing and their SA8000 social accountability standard and certificate that demonstrates their good factory conditions. Their online and social media marketing campaigns are premised on diverse womxn with different bodies and lifestyles. Conversations are centered around social, political, and environmental consciousness. The Everyday GF collection’s proceeds will be donated to various organizations supporting BIPOC’s livelihoods.
They are selling leggings, socks, bras, workout clothes, and an ethical engagement with the fashion industry. For $68 you can have kelp green leggings that are great for yoga, and for taking action.
Marketing research demonstrates that consumers make choices not just about the quality of or the price of the product but also how the product engages with class, gender, environmental, and social issues. People want a product that achieves a goal and facilitates themselves and the community towards said goal.
Grow Your Brand Through Belonging
Following a solid brand purpose is the need for creating a community space that encourages engagement. Subsequent growth comes from the ease of sharing and participating in a brand’s message and goals. A successful brand has articulated their impact through their product or service and has a message that is easily articulable by their consumer to other consumers.
A company with brand loyalty at the very center of this conversation on brand communities is Warby Parker. Their purpose is centered around the idea of testing out different frames from the comfort of consumers’ homes…and in providing glasses for those in need through their Buy-a-Pair, Give-a-Pair program.
By purchasing a pair of glasses, consumers play a part in helping Warby Parker bring prescription eyewear to people in developing countries.
Not only that, but Warby Parker aims to build a strong sense of brand community through their content as well: the brand is focused on creating a lifestyle that’s aligned with their mission. From recommending books to restaurants, Warby Parker shows their community how to apply their values to real life, and they do more than just help people see: they help them make, and do.
Through these social media pages on Facebook, Youtube, and Instagram, community members are able to engage with one another and experience the feeling of community in action. Public business pages can also share content from members of their online community to their Instagram stories to celebrate their customers and build deeper relationships. Digital participation in your brand’s community allows your customers to be involved in your media and marketing, essentially as the voice and face of your brand.
Key Takeaways for Building A Successful Brand Community
A successful business strategy is propelled by having a human-centered, community-based brand. To build a successful brand community, a company needs:
- A clearly articulated purpose that ties itself to human connection.
- Opportunities for consumers to feel like they belong, both in real life and via social media.
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