What does the word community mean to you?
A group of people with shared interests or people who have something in common. Your favourite brand of jeans could have a community. Or there could be a community of people who meditate together. Today, community and brands go together. Huge corporate business houses are taking the word community rather seriously and it’s not difficult to guess why?
Communities, especially online communities form a crucial link ‘online sales conversion’ to happen. Creating a community that can trigger sales directly or indirectly is no mean a task. Internationally, it’s a catchphrase already; although back home it’s not a big hit yet.
“Having a website that gets visitors is nice, but if most of what you learn about your visitors is what you see in Google Analytics, then there’s a lot you still don’t know,” says Kristen Hicks in a column for HostGator, a global web hosting service provider. In short, it is not about the ‘clicks’. It’s about ‘knowing your customer’.
The best in the business do it in a very subtle and indirect form. Let’s study a few brand community examples:
The brand community for each of these ten businesses, show how with a little creatively and resourcefully a consumer can be engaged, entertained and retained. With the added benefit of promoting its brand values and thoughts organically.
A word of caution!
Avoid any kind of controversies. “It would do more harm than good to your brand name,” warns the author of Steps to Successful Forum Marketing in an article for a web hosting firm for small businesses.
Brand communities denote three characteristics as per Muniz and O’Guinn (2001):
Shared Consciousness – is an instant connection with people who use and love the same brand. For instance, a community dedicated to Wrangler jeans, as they talk about what they like about the product and what makes it tick. They will feel as if they know each other since a long time. Without any face to face contact it creates a bond of shared consciousness.
Rituals and Traditions – The Harley Davidson brand community has a special handshake which gives the feeling of oneness to the owners. One of the best brand community examples, where a ritual fosters bonding. Something which could go beyond the virtual world. Any distinguished form of public greeting or acknowledgement forms the rituals and traditions.
A Sense of Moral Responsibility – Once the community is formed and gets going the members naturally feel responsible towards each other. If there was a community for Apple users, helping each other explore the features of any of its product would be a given. Research on friendships states that indulging in mutually inspiring activities creates a stronger bond. The brand community environment is conducive to this form of bonding.
Remember that Brand Community is not a sales exercise. It a process where the consumer can be a part of a brand story. It’s about similar values, dreams, social connect and brand loyalty. As a community creates user-generated content, the user becomes the brand ambassador.
Looking at brand community examples like Starbucks brand community, Lego brand community, Harley Davidson brand community and the Barbie brand community the successful legends. Everything discussed above makes perfect sense. In all, brand community is a motivational platform to keep connecting and spread the love for the brand.
So how about creating a community for your brand?
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