Growing a community vs building a brand

Growing a community vs building a brand

Author: Riel Roussopoulos / Source: Medium Branding is more than just making a logo, we all understand that. But creating a brand does not

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Branding is more than just making a logo, we all understand that.

But creating a brand does not by definition create community around that brand, that’s a different focus and skill set.

Word of Mouth fuels sustainable growth for brands. It’s the stories your audience tells, not the ads you run, that create explosive growth around your product.

Community, happens when people rally around your brand. They don’t ask for money, they don’t need permission, they are motivated by wanting to be part of something that they perceive to be bigger than just money or titles, it’s a movement.

Brand building and community building are not necessarily (I would argue rarely) part of the same skill set. Both are important, but they both need to be working together as part of an agreed goal to grow community around the brand.

This is particularly the case for consumer products, building a community around your brand will drive sales to way no ad campaign ever will.

Let’s use the recent St Patrick’s day holiday as an example.

Does this actually contribute to selling more product for a brand?

Creating a shamrock edition of your product will connect with a few people, but let’s be honest, it’s a great example of tent pole marketing.

Tent poles, for those of you unfamiliar with the term in marketing, are those overarching events that you can build a promotion around without having to necessarily be involved in it directly.

IE: Spring clean up event, Summer Sale, Black Friday Promotion, or St Patrick’s Day Party.

These are all tent pole marketing strategies, and while they are a practical way to leverage the holidays in a relevant way for your brand.

They are not the same as building a community around your product. Frankly it’s somewhat lazy marketing.

Building community is a more involved process. It takes more time and requires you to find and highlight committed community members and draw them in and make them feel like they are a valued member of that community.

Good community building creates brand ambassadors for you.

These are people that take it upon themselves to talk about you at dinner parties with their friends, these are people that will leave work early to come be part of a demonstration, a march or something as simple as a meet and greet.

You don’t have to pay by the click for advertising when everyone at an event is sharing pictures of your logo and product for you as part of sharing their experience.

They complement each other, but they are very different pieces of the marketing challenge for a company. Understanding the value of a good community builder is essential to getting your brand to grow without constantly having to apply pressure.

A strong community around your brand will do the uphill pushing for you.

They’ll come and help you setup your booth at an event, just to be part of your community.

They’ll organize camping trips, picnics and local meetup’s because they are passionate about the community they (and you) belong too.

They will work tirelessly to help you build your brand, because they consider themselves to be part of a movement, not just a customer buying your product.

Let’s look at a few companies that have gotten community building right over the years.

These are in no particular order and are only a few of the many examples of companies that have leveraged community marketing strategies successfully to become bigger brands.

Red Bull is a pillar of the extreme sports community.

Not because people love their energy drink, you never even see people drinking their products in any of the pictures. They have tirelessly organized events as part of a wide variety of passionate communities.