Community Building: The Overlooked Detail In Marketing

Imagine walking into a lively party where you are surrounded by unfamiliar faces. Each person appears busy in their own world, disconnected. You feel that strong urge to leave because you feel like you do not belong. 

Now imagine if the atmosphere was different. You walk in and everyone greets you with a smile and makes you feel welcome. They make you feel like you belong. And it turns out to be one memorable party! Now that’s what brand community building is all about. It’s about making a customer feel like they belong. It’s about creating that welcoming space, a friendly community of like-minded people. 

Obviously, when that happens, your customer does not want the party to end! 

Don’t you want that for your brand? That unshakeable bond with each customer? Community building can get you there. But where do you start? How do you go about building a strong community for your brand? We have all the answers right here. 

However, let’s not rush ahead just yet. Let’s take a moment to discuss the basics. 

What exactly is a brand community? 

Brands have customers. Whereas brand communities have evangelists! 

That’s the simplest way to describe brand communities. A brand community is when you foster a feeling of belonging that has your customers emotionally invested in your brand. And when you do that, the customer’s relationship with your brand goes beyond the products you sell. 

To explain this in another way: in traditional branding, each customer connects to the brand one-to-one in their own bubble. Whereas when the brand fosters community building, customers don’t just feel connected to the brand but also feel connected to the other customers. 

There’s an African proverb that says “If you want to go fast go alone. If you want to go far go together.” 

Brand community building takes this idea seriously and helps brands progress at a steady pace toward long-term growth. 

Community building in marketing- 3 benefits that make the case

  • Helps boost brand awareness – A 2022 survey (on Apple’s brand awareness) by Statista found that nearly 92% of the responders were aware of the Apple brand. And one of the main reasons behind this is Apple’s strong brand community. 
  • Nurtures brand loyalty – Customers who feel like they are part of a community of people who share their values and interests are more likely to stay back. 
  • Brings credible brand ambassadors – When you have a strong brand community, your customers become your brand ambassadors. They bring in more leads and help expand the community and your brand as well. 

Okay, so that proves that community building should be an important part of your marketing strategy. But how do you do that? Let’s look at some tips to build a strong brand community. 

Community building for brands – 5 useful tips 

Say what your brand stands for 

The foundational step in a brand’s community building efforts will be the establishment of the brand and what the brand stands for. 

This step is pivotal because your brand is going to be the guiding star. Your brand’s personality and values attract people who share the same values. 

That’s why it’s important to focus on consistently depicting your brand and laying the foundation for your brand image before you start thinking about brand communities. 

Take the Lego community for example. Without a doubt, it is one of the strongest brand communities in the world. And probably one of the most exciting ones as well. Who would have thought that a toy brand could have such a cult following? 

When the brand started out, there was a clear objective in place. The idea was to “create a toy that prepares the child for life”. From consistent branding to staying true to its values, the Lego brand established its position in the market strongly. Despite of the many Lego lookalikes out there, the brand manages to stand out. All because of its strong branding. 

Through its brand partnerships and collaborations, as well as its omnichannel campaigns, the brand has positioned itself and established that it’s more than just a toy brand. It has continued to prove that the brand is about consistent experiences for children in their growing years. 

That’s why Lego is able to nurture and expand its brand community continuously. 

KIMP Tip: Your brand visuals represent your brand in several places. So, to establish a strong brand and to depict your brand personality, you need visuals that capture the essence of the values you stand for. 

Need help creating consistent-looking brand visuals? Get KIMP

Create the right platform for the community 

Every community needs a platform where the community grows and expands. This can be a social media page, a dedicated website, or even a social media group. The idea is to create an exclusive zone where members feel at home. This will be a space where community members interact with and get to know each other and the brand as well. 

Therefore, choosing a suitable platform is a critical part of community building for a brand. The type of platform you choose depends entirely on the kind of communication you wish to maintain. It also depends on the resources you have for managing the community. 

For example, if it is a Facebook Group, you will need a set of Admins and Moderators to manage the group as it expands. If it is a dedicated website, you need the budget to get the website up and running and a team that takes care of the website content. 

Sephora Beauty Insider Community is a good example of creating a thriving platform for your brand community. This is an online community of beauty creators sharing their insights and customers looking for ideas. Groups, featured posts – the whole experience is very similar to most social media platform experiences. 

Similarly, taking into account the resources available, create the right platform when you start building your brand community. 

KIMP Tip: If you are working on limited resources, you can still create a strong branded community through social media pages and groups. All it takes is to identify the visual theme and tone for this space. While connected to your brand at the core, the theme here should be aligned with your community members. 

You can even create a style guide separately for this community space so that all branded content you post here looks consistent and easily recognizable. 

Identify and set the right rewards for members 

Of course, the sense of belonging is a strong motivator. But that’s not enough to hold things together for a long time. You need to think about the benefits of being part of the community. Therefore, one of the crucial steps in community building for your brand is identifying the rewards, the privileges that the community members enjoy. 

Defining the rewards for joining the brand community comes with two benefits:

  • While some customers are ready to join the community for the inherent satisfaction in it, there are others who do so for the rewards. 
  • The second benefit is that these rewards ensure continuous member gratification. This is important to retain existing members as you keep expanding your community. 

A good example of a brand community that takes community member rewards seriously is the Harley Owners Group. 

In fact, we can safely say that the brand is one of the trendsetters in community building. Because the foundation for the brand’s community dates back to 1914 when the brand’s racing team was formed under the name The Wrecking Crew. 

Today there’s the Harley Owners Group. This is a community of Harley riders who share a passion for riding. Harley Owners Group memberships come with:

  • A host of community benefits like free admission at the Harley-Davidson Museum, the option to take part in riding challenges, events, and more. 
  • And a variety of product ownership benefits like roadside assistance, insurance services, and more. 

As you can see the rewards are aligned with practical long-term benefits for customers. So, the key to strong community building for a brand is not just adding rewards but adding ones that really matter to customers. 

Facilitate user-generated content 

You cannot call it a brand “community” and maintain one-way communication. The difference between a traditional brand page on social media and a dedicated space for the brand community is that the community page is all about the community members. 

Keeping this in mind, community building for the brand should involve sharing user-generated content – a lot of them. Because user-generated content encourages conversations between members. When members start interacting with each, making new friends in the community, the community gets stronger. 

When we spoke about brand communities strengthening brand awareness, we spoke about Apple. It is one of the most popular brands with probably the largest brand community. So much so that other phone brands have customers while Apple has fans. How did that happen? Consistent community building efforts of course! 

Among the many things that Apple does to nurture its global community, one is the habit of sharing user-generated content. The brand’s Instagram page is all about user-generated content. Everything you find on the page was shot on an iPhone by a user from some corner of the world. 

Amplifying this idea Apple also launched its Shot On iPhone campaign where the brand shared stunning images captured by iPhone users on billboards and other advertising media. There are photo challenges hosted regularly and themes for the community to explore. By sharing user-generated content as the design that represents the brand, the brand puts its customers in the front seat. That’s a great way to strengthen the community and also attract new members. 

What Apple does here is simple – it lets the community members feel noticed and acknowledged. And that works tremendously well for the brand. 

Experiences and events to strengthen the bond 

Once you have gotten the ball rolling, your brand community members start actively interacting with each other. And with the right encouragement, they also bring new members to the community. There’s no doubt about all this. But that does not mean that a brand’s effort is over once the community is up and running. In fact, there’s a lot the brand has to do after establishing a community. 

One of the most productive things to do in order to maintain the community spirit and to keep the members engaged, in the long run, would be – hosting events. Because events are some of the most effective engagement tools to build trust and also to boost conversions. About 74% of consumers say that they are more likely to buy from a brand after attending the brand’s event. 

Want to know more about the effectiveness of events in community building for your brand? Take Google I/O for example. The annual event focuses on bringing the developer community together. This is where all the crucial announcements are made and developers in the Google community from around the world look forward to the event. The event gains a lot of media coverage for the brand and also has critics and content creators talking about the event announcements and updates on digital platforms. 

In short, the event does not just strengthen Google’s developer community but also helps the brand expand its reputation and the community to gain new members. 

It’s for this reason that even Meta, TikTok, and other brands regularly host creator meetups. This helps creators and influencers from around the world come together and discuss and discover ideas. 

Materialize your ideas for brand community building with KIMP 

As your brand community grows it might eventually need a brand of its own. It might need its own marketing strategies and branding efforts. You might even need a logo for your brand community. But in this case, your brand logo and the community logo should look cohesive. 

Take the Google I/O logo for example. It’s easily relatable to the Google logo, therefore, preserving the connection. Along with the community logo, you also need consistent marketing visuals to promote your community, the benefits, and any events you host. These efforts help in maintaining the progress of your community and also in attracting new members. 

Working with an unlimited design subscription might feel like the most cost-effective idea in such cases. Because you get unlimited designs both for promoting your brand and your brand community. And you also have the option to maintain separate brand profiles and guidelines so that you can achieve consistency within each category. 

Want to know how this works? Sign up for a free 7-day trial now.