How To Build A Community Around Your Brand

How To Build A Community Around Your Brand

An engaged brand community is every brand’s dream. Having loyal customers who care so much about your company and what you do, that they devote their time and energy into providing valuable feedback, advocacy and support to your company, is not something any company can take for granted.
Studies show that brands with engaged brand communities tend to release better products and attract more customers (by word of mouth marketing) than brands that don’t.
Investing in building a community around your brand is not a matter of choice but a necessity for your business’s long-term growth and survival.

Benefits of Brand Communities

  • They provide valuable feedback for the company on its products and services.
  • They are the company’s unpaid (and highly effective) marketing channel to acquire new customers.
  • They help turn simple customers into raving fans of the company. When you introduce new customers to engaged brand communities, they are more likely to become super fans of the company’s brand.
  • They serve as a source of vital product and/or service ideas for the company. Brand communities are your most trusted source of knowing what your customers want next from your company.
  • They serve as product reliable testers or reviewers. They are the best people to test your products and give you key insights before releasing it to the general public.

With all these benefits, you’d begin to wonder why all companies don’t have active brand communities right?

Well, that’s because it is not an easy thing to pull off. Creating a brand community can be easy, but having an engaged brand community is the hard part.

It requires a company wide commitment and dedicated resources and personnel to build an engaged community brand. However, most companies don’t fully comprehend the immense benefits of having brand communities, so they don’t see the need for such commitments.

If you are reading this then I’m guessing you are at least curious to know how to beneficial brand communities are and how to build one.

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With all these benefits, you’d begin to wonder why all companies don’t have active brand communities, right?

Well, that’s because it is not an easy thing to pull off. Creating a brand community can be easy, but having an engaged brand community is the hard part.

It requires a company-wide commitment and dedicated resources and personnel to build an engaged community brand. However, most companies don’t fully comprehend the immense benefits of having brand communities, so they don’t see the need for such commitments.

If you are reading this, then I’m guessing you are at least curious to know how to beneficial brand communities are and how to build one.

Now that you already know how beneficial they are let us talk about how to build them.

ow that you already know how beneficial they are, let us talk about how to build them.

Building An Engaged Brand Community

Truth be told, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to building an engaged brand community.


However, we can study those companies that we’re able to achieve this and pick a few lessons from them to apply discretionarily in your business.

1. Apple

When it comes to building brand communities, Apple was one of the first (if not the first) company to have an online community for its users.

The Apple User Group Connection (AUGC), established in 1985 Apple and led by Apple employee Ellen Petry Leanse.

The community was formed to help Apple share information directly with its users rather than through traditional support and distribution channels.

The idea for starting the online community came in response to complaints by Apple users who felt the company was alienating them with the release of new products.

So the community was created to keep users informed about innovations and product features. Through this community, Apple could extend user support services and information sharing to its enthusiastic user base.

The work done by Apple’s Ellen Petry Leanse is reported as the pioneering of online communities as we know them today.

Today, dozens of Apple online communities (started by users) and websites focused primarily on Apple news and products.

Today, Apple’s loyal user base can be traced back to its online communities, and the brand loyalty such communities build among its users.

So it is fair to say that people queueing outside Apple stores to purchase new products didn’t just happen because of brilliant marketing. It started in 1985 when Apple decided to support its users by focusing on its user community, which created super loyal customers.

The Mac Evangelists

Apple literally invented the term “software evangelist” by making some of its developers, “Mac Evangelists”.
Their job was primarily to promote the use of Apple products by working with third-party developers. They served as the middle-men between developers and the Mac team, helping developers solve problems they encountered when creating the Mac products.
This enabled Apple to build a strong community of developers around its products.
Today, there’s a community for almost everything Apple. From the Mac to the iPod, to the iPhone and the iWatch. These communities are now started and run by Apple users.

Lessons From Apple

  • Take the lead
    Don’t wait for your customers to create dedicated news channels and communities for your brand. You can take the lead and create the channels yourself and encourage your customers to engage you in them.
    You can also encourage employees to create dedicated news channels for your brand.

    Websites like 9to5Max, AppleInsider etc., are key sources of information for Apple customers who want to know more about the company. This helps build a following with your customers.
  • Prioritize user support
    When you create a product people love to use, that love will extend to your brand.
  • Value customer complaints
    Customers who take their time to complain to your company are those who actually care. Apple understood this, and was able to turn complaining customers into raving fans by simply making them happy, how hard could it be?
  • Just care
    By giving special care and attention to those who use your products, you win their respect and love. With a brand, love comes brand loyalty.

2. Tesla And SpaceX

What do an electric car company and a rocket manufacturer have in common? – Elon Musk.

Elon Musk

Love him or hate him; one thing you can’t deny is that the visionary CEO of Tesla and SpaceX is one of today’s most admired entrepreneurs.

The companies he leads are futuristic and disruptive.

But one of the little known facts about Elon’s companies is the community they have built behind their brands.

Not only do they create and regulate official Tesla communities, but they also support successful communities created by their customers.

The Tesla Owners Club is one of such unofficial Tesla community that is supported by the company. With regular visits by top company executives at club meetings, to meet-and-greets with Elon Musk himself.

Tesla has also benefited greatly from its numerous Tesla communities, probably more than its benefit.

Tesla owner communities come together to help new car owners take delivery of their cars and then give them an orientation on the vehicle’s ins and outs.

The Tesla community is one of the most involved brand communities in the world.

“The Tesla Experience” is a term coined by the community, which means giving non-Tesla users a taste of what it feels like to ride in a Tesla.

Tesla also has a referral program where a car owner gets special points and rewards for referring a new customer to purchase or lease any of its models.

Tesla is the only car company in the world that does not spend on advertising.

And a huge majority of its new users are gotten from referrals from existing customers.

Here’s a video that reflects the true power of the Tesla community.

Lessons From Tesla

  • Let the vision unite:
    When you listen to Tesla Community leaders speak, they always talk about their belief in the vision of Tesla and its CEO, Elon Musk. While we all can’t be an Elon, (unfortunately), having a brand vision that unites people is one key way of building a loyal brand community. People don’t follow people; they follow ideas. Apple is a company with a vision that unites people, that is why they enjoy a loyal brand following as compared to other companies like Microsoft.
  • Appreciate your community:
    Tesla is a company that is actively involved in its communities and rewards community members and leaders with diverse perks and access to the company’s staff and executives. Despite his busy schedules, Elon Musk makes time to meet members of the Tesla community when they go for a tour of one of its factories and at community meet up events.
  • Reward your community:
    Humans are inherently self-motivated, they do things that will benefit them, and sometimes others as well. This is neither a bad thing nor a good thing; it’s just human nature. Tesla’s referral program is the company’s way of thanking its customers who help it bring new customers into the Tesla community.

3. Starbucks

In 2018, Starbucks celebrated the 5th anniversary of its crowdsourcing innovation platform, “My Starbucks Idea”.

The 5 year statistics

My Starbucks Idea has been hailed by industry experts as one of the most innovative customer engagement strategies ever implemented.
It is a crowdsourcing innovation platform launched by Starbucks to receive feedback from its customers to know what they want.
Every idea is voted on and implemented per the discretion of the company.
Its customers first suggested some of Starbucks’ most popular items in the My Starbucks Idea platform.
Rather than spending years and millions of dollars trying to figure out and test what customers want (which you should still do), creating a platform to crowdsource ideas from your customers is the easiest way to innovate.

The Outside Insiders

By implementing the ideas, regardless of how big or small, Starbucks makes the customers feel like they are part of the company’s decision-making process and not just another coffee buyer.
This gives them a good sense of ownership to the brand. When your customers feel like your company’s brand doesn’t belong to just the company but belongs to they the customers, that sense of ownership over the brand breeds loyalty like nothing else.
Without a doubt, people want always to feel like they belong and that they are a part of something big.
In My Starbucks Idea, Starbucks created the cheapest and most effective way to create this feeling of belonging and customer participation.

Lessons From Starbucks

  • Give your customers a voice and they’ll give you their loyalty.
  • Always strive to make your customers feel a sense of ownership towards your brand and they’ll care for it.

Conclusion

In building a community around your brand, the results are not immediate. They take time to add up. It doesn’t immediately reflect in your revenues and sales in the short term.

However, in the medium to long term, they’ll be one of the biggest contributors to your company’s growth and sustainability.

Companies that have been in existence for generations have learned to ingrain their brands into the hearts and minds of their customers.

The results are clear; if you decide to put in building a brand community, you’ll reap the rewards in customer loyalty.


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Great Damzi

I am a marketing and growth strategist, entrepreneur and creative thinker. My goal is to help entrepreneurs from Africa build successful businesses, impact lives and raise the black flag high.

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