Brand Community: Successful Strategies and Examples
Explore the power of online platforms and customer stories for user-generated content and brand community building. Discover the best practices for community engagement and content creation, including loyalty programs and social initiatives.
Defining brand community
Creating a loyal brand community is essential for businesses to remain competitive in today's digital age. Online brand communities are a powerful tool to increase customer loyalty and promote a positive brand image.
Businesses can leverage their brand advocates and ambassadors within their own community to help spread the word about their products and services. A well-crafted online brand community can also help organizations better understand their customers, allowing them to create more meaningful connections with their target audience. In this blog post, we'll provide tips and strategies on how to create the best brand community in your niche.
What is a brand community?
A brand community is a group of people who share a common interest in a particular brand and actively engage with it.
This community can be built through various means such as social media, forums, and events. Strong brand communities have loyal customers, brand advocates, and ambassadors who help promote the brand's products and boost its online presence. Building a strong brand community can increase brand loyalty and customer retention through community building and engagement. Some of the most successful examples of strong brand communities include Apple, Harley-Davidson, and Nike.
Overall, brand communities thrive on community engagement and user-generated content, and can be created through various means, including social initiatives, social networking, and online platforms.
In this article, we will explore the importance of building brand communities and provide some tips on how to create and maintain a loyal brand community.
Why is it important to have a brand community?
Brand communities can strengthen brand image, increase customer loyalty, provide valuable customer insights, and serve as a platform for user-generated content and social proof.
The importance of online brand communities for businesses cannot be overstated.
Firstly, brand communities help to create a strong brand image and increase customer loyalty. When people feel a sense of belonging to a brand community, they are more likely to become loyal customers and promote the brand to others.
Secondly, brand communities can provide valuable insights into customer preferences and behaviors. By engaging with customers within a community, businesses can gain a better understanding of their needs and preferences, which can inform product development and marketing strategies.
Finally, a brand community can serve as an online platform for user-generated content and social proof. When customers share their positive experiences within a community, it can create a ripple effect and encourage others to try the brand's products or services.
Types of Brand Communities
Brand communities can be broadly classified into two types - those that are formed by brand users and those that are sponsored and created by companies.
Communities formed by brand users are typically created organically by loyal customers who share a common interest in a brand or product. These communities are usually based on shared values, interests, or experiences and are often facilitated through online community forums and social media platforms. Best examples of brand communities formed by users include communities around the outdoor brand Patagonia or the gaming brand Xbox.
On the other hand, communities formed and sponsored by companies are intentionally created by the brand to foster a sense of community among their customers. These communities are designed to create a space where the company's most loyal customers can connect with each other and engage with the brand. They can be facilitated through various channels, such as social media platforms, online forums, or live events. Some examples of strong brand communities created by companies include Apple's community forums, Nike's Run Club app, and Sephora's Beauty Insider program.
Regardless of the type of community, successful brand communities share some common traits. They are built around a shared passion or interest and offer engaging content and opportunities for customer interaction. They help companies make customer-driven decisions, using customer feedback and data.
In the next sections of this article, we will delve deeper into the best practices for building a successful brand community through community engagement, content creation, and customer loyalty.
Benefits of Building Brand Communities
In today's consumer landscape, word of mouth has a significant influence on sales, with studies showing that over 80% of consumers are influenced by it when making purchasing decisions. Marketers recognize the power of word of mouth for community building as well, with over 60% considering it the most effective form of marketing. Building online brand communities can harness this power by boosting search engine rankings and driving website traffic, ultimately contributing to a strong brand image and increased brand loyalty.
By creating online brand communities and customer loyalty programs, many brands have been successful in engaging with their community members and making customer-driven decisions. Research shows that these communities can boost customer engagement by up to 21%, leading to an increase in website traffic and increased brand loyalty.
Moreover, a strong worldwide community can provide valuable insights into customer needs and preferences, helping businesses make informed decisions based on feedback from community members. In fact, a study by Innsbruck University School of Management found that nearly two-thirds of companies reported an improvement in decision-making as a result of engaging with their brand communities.
Overall, investing in a strong and engaged brand community can have a significant impact on a business's success. By creating digital communities and loyalty programs that encourage community members to share their experiences, businesses can build a strong brand image and increase brand loyalty attracting new members and retaining the existing ones.
Steps to Build a Successful Brand Community
Building a successful brand community involves several important steps.
1. Identify your target audience
Identifying your target audience is one of the most crucial steps in the process of community building. It helps you to create content and activities that are specifically tailored to the interests, values, and preferences of your audience, making your community more relevant and engaging to them.
Unfortunately, many brands fail to identify their target audience and end up with a product or service that doesn't resonate with anyone. To avoid this, it's important to take the time to research and understand your audience. This can involve analyzing data on demographics, interests, and user behavior, as well as conducting surveys and focus groups to gather feedback from existing or potential community members.
For example, if you're building an online community around a cooking brand, you may identify your target audience as foodies and home cooks who are passionate about experimenting with new recipes and ingredients. By understanding their interests and preferences, you can create content that speaks to their needs, such as recipe ideas, cooking tips, and product recommendations.
Once you've identified your target audience, it's important to keep them in mind when creating content and activities for your community. This can help to attract new members who share similar interests and values, as well as keep them satisfied.
2. Define your community purpose and values
Defining the purpose and values of your own community is crucial in attracting the right people and creating a sense of shared identity and belonging. A strong brand is built on a clear and compelling purpose and a set of values that resonates with your target audience. Professional branding services can help you identify and articulate your community's purpose and values, ensuring they are authentic, meaningful, and relevant to your audience.
For example, a community for an eco-friendly clothing brand might have values such as sustainability, transparency, and ethical production. These values would be reflected in the brand's messaging, product offerings, and social initiatives, such as eco-friendly fashion tips and recycling programs. By aligning the brand's purpose and values with the needs and interests of its audience, you can build a great brand community that cultivates a sense of shared purpose.
3. Create engaging content and experiences
Creating high-quality, engaging content is key to building a successful brand community. Although the main purpose of content creation is to provide information, your content should also be entertaining and inspiring for your audience, encouraging interaction and engagement.
One effective way to create engaging content is to develop a loyalty program that rewards your most loyal customers for their engagement and participation. This can encourage user-generated content and foster a sense of community among your most loyal customers.
Additionally, by leveraging brand ambassadors and other members of your community, you can create content that resonates with your target audience and builds a strong brand identity.
Examples of engaging content could include Instagram reels that showcase behind-the-scenes footage, tutorials, or product demos, as well as articles on Medium or Reddit that provide value to your audience through informative and thought-provoking content. These types of content not only capture the attention of your community but also make community members engage with your brand by leaving comments, sharing, or creating their own content in response.
The key is to consistently create content that adds value and connects with your community on a deeper level. By doing so, you can strengthen relationships with your most loyal customers while also attracting new members to your community. Ultimately, a strong brand with engaging content can help to foster a passionate community of brand advocates who are dedicated to promoting and supporting your brand.
4. Foster interaction and engagement
Social networking can be a powerful tool for a brand to foster interaction with its members. One way of building a loyal brand community is by encouraging members to share their thoughts and ideas on the brand's social media pages and other social networking platforms. Social media groups or forums can be an ideal tool for sparking discussion about the brand or industry, where businesses can leverage user-generated content to further drive engagement and create a sense of community.
Moreover, by actively participating in these discussions and listening to feedback from customers, brands can make customer-driven decisions that improve their offerings and the overall customer experience.
One of the best examples of a great brand community is Nike’s Reddit space which allows followers from different backgrounds to share customer stories, pursue fitness goals, and motivate each other. By creating a dedicated space where followers can share their stories, pursue fitness goals, and motivate each other, Nike has effectively harnessed the power of user-generated content to create a more engaging and authentic brand experience.
Glossier, a prominent cosmetics brand in the U.S., also leveraged an online platform to build relationships with its customers and recruit new brand ambassadors. The company used Instagram to showcase user-generated content, held Q&As, and ran polls to collect opinions on prospective products, which made their customers feel an intrinsic part of the brand. As a result, they have a strong community of over 2 million loyal customers.
5. Listen to feedback and adapt
Listening to feedback from community members is not only crucial for building a successful brand community, but also for making customer-driven decisions that meet the needs and expectations of your loyal customers. It gives you a better understanding of what members expect from your brand and how to adjust your approach to meet their needs. Being open to feedback allows to foster of transparency and builds trust, letting loyal customers know that their thoughts and ideas are valued.
Additionally, staying responsive to your members' wants and needs is necessary for retaining engagement and growing your own brand community. As times change, so too may the needs and interests of your members, and you need to be able to reflect those changes in order to remain relevant and useful.
To make customer-driven decisions and improve the overall experience of your community, it's crucial to gather feedback from your members. There are several ways to gather feedback from your community, including surveys, polls, and open-ended questions. It's important to actively listen to the feedback you receive, rather than simply collecting it and ignoring it. Take the time to analyze it, looking for patterns and themes that can help guide your strategy moving forward.
Once you do make changes in accordance with feedback, inform your community about these alterations. Doing this creates a sense of trust and loyalty among the community members.
6. Evaluate and measure success
Finally, you should regularly evaluate and measure the success of your community. Community measures of success are important for evaluating the effectiveness of a brand community. The specific goals and objectives of your own community will determine the measures of success that are relevant.
Community engagement is a common measure of success that includes the number of active community members, their interactions with the brand, and participation in your community’s activities. Brand loyalty is another key metric that indicates the level of commitment and advocacy that community members have for the brand.
Customer satisfaction is important for ensuring that the community is meeting the needs and expectations of its members.
Finally, revenue can be a significant measure of success, indicating the impact of the community on the bottom line.
Tracking these metrics will help you understand what is working and what is not, and allow you to make adjustments as needed.
By following these steps, you can build a successful brand community that attracts and engages loyal customers. Many brands have already found success with online brand communities, loyalty programs, and other social initiatives that leverage the power of social networking and community building to create a strong brand image and build a worldwide community of engaged customers.
Brand Community Examples
Here are some great brand community examples of online and offline brand communities.
Online brand communities
1. Sephora Beauty Insider Community
Sephora has an online community for makeup and beauty enthusiasts, allowing loyal customers to share product reviews and beauty tips, and connect with other community members. Sephora also offers exclusive perks and rewards to the most loyal customers based on their level of engagement.
Nike's online community for athletes and fitness enthusiasts has been around for almost a decade. Community members can track their workouts, connect with other participants, and receive personalized recommendations for products and services based on their activity and preferences. Nike+ has built an online running app where members can share their success stories and earn rewards based on their achievements. Nike+ also offers exclusive access to events, products, and services for the most loyal customers and active community members.
3. Harley Owners Group
Harley Owners Group is one of the best examples of a great brand community. It was created by Harley Davidson to bring together its most loyal customers and create a sense of community among them. By providing a platform for Harley enthusiasts to connect with one another, Harley Owners Group has become a hub for those who share a passion for the brand and its motorcycles.
The community members are Harley Davidson's most devoted customers, who are often referred to as "Harley Riders". These individuals are highly engaged with the brand and are committed to promoting it within their larger community of motorcycle enthusiasts.
Online community members have access to a wide range of exclusive benefits, including special events, merchandise, and services. These perks not only provide added value to the members but also serve as a way to strengthen their bond with the brand.
Offline brand communities
1. Peloton Studios
Peloton is an American exercise equipment company based in New York that has a strong offline community for fitness enthusiasts, where members can attend live and on-demand fitness classes, connect with Peloton owners, and participate in sports events and challenges.
These events and challenges offer a fun and engaging way for members to stay motivated and achieve their fitness goals. By connecting members through these events and challenges, Peloton is able to foster a sense of community and support that extends beyond the walls of its studios.
2. Lululemon Ambassador Program
Lululemon, a Canadian athletic apparel retailer, has established an offline community for fitness and wellness influencers through its ambassador program. This program offers exclusive access to products and events, as well as opportunities for members to connect with other ambassadors and the larger Lululemon community.
Lululemon encourages fitness enthusiasts from all walks of life to become brand ambassadors and spread the word about their products. Ambassadors get many perks and benefits, such as the privilege of trying out the newest gear, gaining access to development tools and experiences, and connecting with a community of individuals who share a dedication to fitness.
3. Starbucks Reserve Roastery
Starbucks Reserve Roastery can serve as one of the best examples of an offline brand community. It features an offline community experience that enables members to indulge in the rarest and best-quality coffees that Starbucks has to offer.
Through Starbucks Reserve, members have the opportunity to experience the art and science of coffee-making firsthand. They can learn about the complex process of sourcing, roasting, and brewing the perfect cup of coffee, and connect with other community members all while enjoying the rich and varied flavors that Starbucks Reserve has to offer.
Brand communities play a crucial role in the success of a business. By building a strong and loyal brand community, companies can gain valuable insights into their customer's needs and preferences, increase customer engagement and loyalty, and drive website traffic and search engine rankings.
The benefits of brand communities extend beyond just the customers. They also contribute to improved decision-making, higher customer satisfaction, and a stronger brand image.
However, brand communities thrive only when businesses invest the time and effort to create a meaningful and engaging community.
Building a strong brand community requires the definition of a purpose, providing engaging content and activities, paying attention to customer opinions, adapting to their varying needs, and monitoring its success.
If you consider building your own brand community, don’t delay it. We have given you some great brand community examples, so you know where to start!
Updated: May 31, 2023