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Brand Community: Definition, Examples, and Strategies

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One of the lesser-known facets of marketing is the brand community. But the fact that you rarely hear about this doesn’t mean that it’s not effective. On the contrary, it’s responsible for the enduring legacy of some of the most well-known brands these days. A brand community’s basic definition is that it’s a group of individuals or persons who form an attachment or loyalty to a particular brand. Why are brand communities important? This is because the community becomes responsible for much of the brand’s growth.

Everything You Need to Know About Brand Community

A brand community is different from a cult product. A cult product is often a lesser-known but incredibly effective product. Cult products are mostly unassuming or unavailable to the general public, but their incredible effectiveness at what they do makes them popular.
Turning brand experience into a community is one of the most challenging things for a marketer.
On the other hand, a brand community is more focused on the overall brand than a particular product being touted by the brand. Thus, it’s much more enduring. The brand has more opportunity for expansion and serves as an imprimatur to the community that a certain product contains the same guarantee ensured by the brand. With this in mind, it might be helpful to delve into the idea of a brand community and what it can do for you. If you seek to answer the question "how do you create a community brand?" you should learn from the best brand communities and emulate what they’re doing for your brand. Lastly, after reading through the entire article, we hope you’ll be able to formulate your own strategies and create a successful community brand.

Types of Brands

Regardless of what brand type you have, you should always give the market a story to talk about.
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of building your brand community, it’s important to note first what kind of brand you have. The nature of your brand and business will vastly affect the way you build your brand community. You may ask, “what are the 4 types of brands?” or “What are 3 different types of brands?” In this case, we’ll discuss the four most common types of brands and some other lesser-known types.

Personal Brand

A personal brand, as the name implies, is a brand that’s personal to you. This is one of the fastest-growing brands these days, with the rise of social media influencers and online personalities. Now, what is an online brand community? A personal brand is founded on a particular person, instead of a range of products being offered, and is often referred to as an online brand community. The consensus is that a personal brand is the easiest to create; after all, you only need grit, charisma, and mad editing skills. However, the fact that it’s easily made also means that there’s a lot of competition on the market. To stand out, you really have to go above and beyond. A brand community can be especially useful if you have a personal brand. Because the brand is built around yourself, you’re free to select, endorse, and create products you’re passionate about. Once you’ve built a brand community, it’s very easy to leverage that community to support your brand’s expansion goals.

Product Brand

A product brand is built on the strength of an incredibly popular product. A product brand is often considered as the first step for those who are just starting their brands but hoping to make it big someday. The idea is to create an incredibly popular product, coast on that product’s success, leverage your success, and create more products. Although product brands are the most common success stories, they can also be limited when it comes to growth opportunities. To be honest, it will be challenging to leverage a brand community surrounding a product brand to more success, especially if the product is one-of-a-kind. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t try.

Corporate Brands

Corporate brands are behemoths of the branding industry. They’ve already achieved a high level of success for their brand and feature multiple popular products in their arsenal. A brand community is generally seen as a good thing for corporate brands, and they try to cultivate their brand communities whenever they can. The risk with corporate brands is that there’s an ever-increasing pressure to sustain momentum if you want to cultivate your brand community. There’s always the possibility of one product damaging your reputation in the eyes of your brand community. However, with greater risks come greater rewards, too; if you play the game right, your success can spawn more success.

Service Brands

The rise of delivery apps and similar brands has led to the creation of a so-called fourth brand, the service brand. Here, your reputation rests on the performance of your staff. You’re constantly called to provide excellent service. The margin for error is consistently larger because of human frailties. However, since service brands are relatively new, there’s also not much competition in the playing field. Simply put, you can take advantage of the service brand by staking your popularity early on.

Types of Brand Community

In determining the best type of community for your brand, you must aim for a loyal audience and authentic conversations.
Just as there are different kinds of brands, there are also different types of brand community. The type of brand community you have will affect your marketing strategies and your growth and development opportunities. There are certain identifiers for the type of brand community you have, and you don’t have to be restricted to the brand community you have right now. You have the opportunity to grow and jump from one low-level brand community to a higher one. That being said, here are some of the most common brand communities you can find.

Fan Club

Did you know that a fan club is actually a type of brand community? Fan clubs are ubiquitous, even before the advent of social media and technology. What marketers realize now is that fan clubs are often the precursor of larger brand communities. Simply put, a fan club is often the first step to creating a brand community. Having a fan club signals to other people that your brand is worth following and maybe enticing to other people interested in the same thing. You can wait for your fan club to grow organically, meaning you can wait for someone to start creating your club. You can also help create the process by supporting the creation of one. The goal, whichever way you go about it, remains the same—to build a thriving brand community around your brand. It doesn’t even have to be called a fan club. It could be a group of enthusiasts for the same product. The important thing is to sow the seeds for a thriving brand community.

Brand Nation

The term "brand nation" or any of its similar and affiliate terms have become prevalent these days. Some terms tend to blur the lines between a fan club and a brand nation. The difference lies mainly in the level of participation and not in the designation or name itself. A fan club generally implies a low level of financial or marketing participation. Members maintain an interest in a brand but don’t really go out of their way to show financial support. A handful of members spend only a significant amount when it comes to fan clubs. On the other hand, brand nations imply a higher level of participation. When you have a brand nation, the members thereof are generally more eager to spend money on the brand, although they’re more restrained than the higher forms of brand community. For example, the Nike Brand Nation consists of persons who generally buy one or two shoes at a time. But they also support and buy other shoes, although remaining loyal to Nike. Having a brand nation implies growth, so it’s a good thing. It means that your base has grown from just having a casual interest to actually spending money on your brand. After all, that’s what marketing is all about, right?

Brand Cult

Brand cults refer to the so-called "die-hard" fans of the brand. They obsessively follow the brand’s every move and anticipate every product it releases. A brand cult is possibly the highest level of brand community you can find, and its economic power cannot be underestimated. When you have a brand cult, you need to focus on cultivating your "cult" instead of looking for potential growth. This is because there’s generally no higher tier than a brand cult when it comes to brand communities. Is there a downside to having a brand cult? Maybe. The thing about brand cults is that your consumers are obsessively devoted to the brand they’re following. It means that they have more discerning eyes when it comes to the brand’s flaws and imperfections. There’s also the constant pressure to perform well and to exceed the last product you released. One simple mistake could erode the trust so painstakingly built between you and your brand cult. Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s not a goal worth pursuing. If you have a brand cult, you basically have a ready base of customers willing to purchase your product the moment you release it.

Examples of Outstanding Brand Communities

Coffee, cosmetics, or both? The best brand communities know how to target the market really well.
Sometimes, the best way to learn is to look at what other brands are doing right so you can decide for yourself. The experience might be the best teacher, but that doesn’t mean that you’re restricted to learning only from your experiences. What we’re saying is, learn from the experiences of other brands to know what you should and shouldn’t do.

Sephora’s Beauty Insider Community

Sephora is a well-known beauty brand across the globe, with more than 2,600 stores around the world. Competition in the beauty product community is famously fierce, mainly because of the vast plethora of needs and wants the community needs to fulfill. A few years ago, Sephora decided to capitalize on this need and created the Beauty Insider Community. The goal of the community was simple—to build a community where people could share beauty tips. However, the clincher comes in the fact that to join the community, you have to be registered as a member and included in the company’s loyalty program. In short, you have to support Sephora products to be a full-fledged member of the community. The premise is deceptively simple, but it worked. It allowed Sephora to consolidate its community and harness its purchasing power by giving rewards to loyal customers.

Starbucks

The Starbucks brand community is perhaps one of the most well-known, it's also the most popular coffee shop in the world. The food and beverage giant has around 31,000 stores all over the world. Its products are patronized by many, and it offers a wide array of options to suit individual and different tastes. However, Starbucks has gone beyond the idea of offering different options for different tastes. It also launched the so-called "My Starbucks Idea," which allows patrons to submit their own ideas for products. The campaign democratized the process of selecting products and allowed people to have a say in what kind of products Starbucks will offer. It was also a sure-fire way to test if a product would prove popular if offered; the more people requested for it, the more assurance that it would do well on the market. Starbucks also capitalizes on its patrons’ loyalty by giving them rewards once they achieve a particular number of purchases, thus cultivating their own brand community.

Final Thoughts

The main benefit of maintaining a brand community: engagement can lead to customers spending more. ║ Source: Martha Jean Schindler
With countless examples of brand community everywhere, you’re bound to find one that you can take your cue from. We suggest starting your strategies slowly and have a reachable goal in mind. This is especially true if you don’t have a brand community yet, and you’re still a beginner. With that in mind, always remember that a brand community’s loyalty will depend on how you treat them. Make sure to cultivate and nourish your brand community. Want to learn how to grow your business through other marketing strategies? Read our article “Winning Over a Following: How Micro-Influencers Can Boost Your Brand’s Strategy.”
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