Having a great product can only get you so far. What consumers want can sometimes go beyond the tangible. Amongst this is a sense of belonging. And that’s where brand communities come in. A shared love for a product can be a powerful driving force that bonds people together, making them feel united in their shared admiration and love for a brand and all it represents. When your brand is able to bring people together and make them feel connected and part of a larger community, it can be powerful enough to drive brand loyalty and brand advocacy.
In this article, we provide insight into brand communities, their benefits and how you can start building one.
What is a brand community?
A brand community is a group of individuals who feel like a part of something bigger than themselves. These groups of people are united around a shared interest, product, service, or idea. Brands that create communities tend to experience greater levels of success than brands that don’t.
Vans, the American skateboarding shoe and apparel brand, is a great example of a brand that has authentically built a community of like-minded individuals. Instead of focusing on just selling good skateboarding shoes, it aspired to fulfil a higher purpose. It strongly advocates creative self-expression and, in doing so, is able to organically unite those who are passionate about asserting their individuality and creativity through art, music, action sports and street culture.
How does a brand community help create brand advocacy?
Consumers crave connection. Brand communities give consumers just that. They fulfil the most fundamental human need to belong and develop strong social relationships. What exactly does it mean to belong? It is the feeling of being close to other individuals and feeling accepted by them. It’s also built upon shared interests, values and beliefs. Strongly tied to social identity, it makes individuals feel united with others within the community. For example, Vans’ tagline, ‘Off The Wall,’ is a state of mind and philosophy that fans of the brand share, and it’s what creates a sense of affinity and connection to one another.
By going beyond simply offering a product or service and giving consumers something a bit more intangible – emotional connection and a sense of belonging – you inch closer towards brand resonance. With brand resonance, customers feel a strong affinity with your brand, are loyal towards your brand and become brand advocates.
What are the benefits of a brand community?
Building a brand community of individuals who love your brand generates invaluable currency for your brand. The feeling of belonging is potent and can move consumers to share their love for your brand with everyone around them. These consumers act as brand ambassadors that will advocate for your brand and will fiercely defend anyone who puts your brand down.
According to Nielsen’s latest Global Trust in Advertising report, 92% of consumers state that they trust recommendations from friends and family over other forms of advertising. Having a group of individuals who vouch for your products and services can contribute to raising brand equity – the value your brand is seen to have in the eyes of consumers.
Beyond sharing their love for your brand, brand advocates also serve as great defenders of your brand. It’s not uncommon to hear Apple lovers jump to defend the MacBook or iPhone if they hear any criticism against it. Or hardcore Coca-Cola lovers swearing their allegiance to the drink and sticking up for the product if anyone says Pepsi is better.
Ultimately, brand communities help to increase brand awareness, build brand identity and increase bottom lines.
How can you create a great brand community?
One of the best ways to create a successful brand community is to listen to your customers and understand what they want. Market research is an effective way to achieve this. Through online surveys, focus groups and interviews, you can gain an intimate understanding of what consumers’ needs and wants are. You can gain valuable insight into what works and doesn’t work for them. This deep understanding also allows you to create meaningful digital and social media initiatives.
You can also create a great brand community by identifying inspiring individuals within your industry who can act as brand stewards. What’s important is that these ambassadors of your brand share a genuine affinity with your brand and embody the mission and values that it represents. Consumers can spot a gimmick a mile away and using influencers who do not authentically share your brand’s philosophy can hurt it and erode the trust of the community. Be selective about who you choose as paid sponsors. A real connection can galvanise consumers and strengthen your brand community.
Build a strong brand community with BDSA
BDSA is a branding and marketing agency in Singapore that offers brand consulting and social media marketing services. Develop a strong brand and marketing strategy that attracts consumers and makes them feel like a part of a community.
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