Building your brand means growing consumers dedicated to the success of your company; people who have a vested interest in your products and services. These are your evangelists, your biggest fans, your mavens. If you want people to shout from the rooftops about your company you’ll have to start forming community.
Look at Harley riders, Mac geeks and the Red Sox–people are absolutely obsessed. They have meetups, wait in line for hours and will fight to the death to prove to someone they are right. What motivates them?
Your Brand Gives them Meaning
To create a loyal following for your brand you must give people something to rally around. Whether it’s the tough guy motorcycle lifestyle, the super trendy piece of technology or the diehard city of Boston people need to feel connection to something. When they start connecting with other people who feel the same you have community.
As a company you need to relate to your customers and make them feel one with your brand. Harley riders identify with their band of brothers, Mac users love lighting up their little Apple at the internet cafe and Sox fans love wearing the same putrid ballcap everyday of their life.
Your Customers are Branding Themselves
The best type of evangelism for a brand occurs when consumers brand themselves by identifying with your brand. Brands aim for that connectivity with other runners when you lace up your Nikes or feeling slightly more elegant when you have a man riding a horse on your Polo shirt. A guy reading Under30CEO Magazine is bound to impress the ladies. See a lady reading U30? She’s instantly pinning herself as a potential Sugar Mama. People connect with the Under30 brand because we are building something to identify with. We want people to have a natural sense of belonging when they think about Under30CEO.
Making customers feel warm and fuzzy inside is only the start. Your customers need connectivity with all parts of your brand: your product, people inside the company and other fans of your brand.
Try these Community Building Tips
- Let people know what’s going on inside your brand–ask your consumers for input, give them a sneak peak on whats going on inside your brand–write a blog or talk to them on Twitter. The key here in engagement. Building community is not a one way conversation–you need to listen first, then respond.
- Host a meetup. Get your fans together. Yelp! throws huge parties for their biggest users. This makes the customer feel appreciated, feel part of the team and allows you to get to know your biggest fans.
- Do good–start some type of socially conscious project that your fans can get involved in and feel part of. Sure it’s great to use your following to make money, but encouraging them to make the world the better place creates a stronger bond and tighter community around your brand.
“You don’t want customers, you want fans with money.” -Frank Kern