With the advent of social networks and digital platforms, brand communities have become a major stake for companies. The aim of these communities is to gather people around the same interests, to make them be involved in the brand and the products, and to set up a dialogue between the brand and the consumers.
« Members of a brand community are never similar, it’s the company’s goal to create a certain homogeneity. »
The concept of brand communities
To analyze brand communities, it is important to understand why people need to gather around a passion they share. Theses individuals will share the values and standards of the brand, and will feel like they belong to something they admire. The members of a community will interact in different ways according to the brand, and that’s how companies can differentiate themselves. Brand communities usually are built around a hard core of faithful clients. Then around this, another more distended group of customers but still passionate about the brand will form.
Some companies even make a business based on these communities. The Wing for example is a company that develops some workspaces for women. It takes the form of a club in which the members encourage and help each other. The company Glossier based its success selling cosmetics and beauty products that are designed, elaborated, talked and advised by the community of users. The client becomes part of the company.
The relationship between the individual and the brand
A brand community is never only made of alike individuals but the role of the company is actually to create homogeneity within a disparate group. Every member will have a special relationship with the brand and will be a fan more or less committed into the success of it. It all depends on the level of knowledge, the identification to the brand values, the number of purchases and the durability of the relationship between the individual and the brand.
What’s at stake for the companies is to create a double dynamic : setting up a brand culture within the community, then this will reinforce the cult of the brand and feed even more the community. One of the most emblematic example is the community strategy of Nike. The company set up some communities for every sports it covers, so the golf fans are not mixed with the basketball fans, which would make very difficult to instaure a strong culture with strong values. On every social network, Nike bets on images and everything is made so people can spontaneously interact and dialogue. Another example is the app Nike + for the runners. It takes the form of a game so the app is very entertaining and it helps creating a link between the users.
The stake for companies is big because the more a community is stable, the more it is powerful. The best thing to achieve for a brand is that the members of its community generate and create some original contents themselves and share some informations around. Moreover, when the customer is involved in the content creation, he feels even more attached to the brand. So this is a virtuous circle.
Also, setting up a brand community will help the marketing team of the company. It is easier to convince and seduce people who are already part of the brand and big fans of it. On a side, it is important not to disappoint the members of the community, and on another side, it allows the brand to take some more risk and to feel free enough to be more creative. At the end of the day, the brand community helps understand your target’s demands. The communities are full of very relevant informations that the brands can’t ignore anymore.