Brand identity is a carefully crafted image of what your business represents. Besides visible elements such as your brand’s logo or colour palette, it is also a portrayal of your values as a business. This is a concept every marketer is familiar with, since it plays a major role in attracting a relevant audience. However, we now live in a generation where a brand’s identity constantly evolves based on feedback from customers. Having a subset of engaged customers is a priceless tool that can be tapped into for strengthening your business, and in this article we will understand how to do so using the help of creative automation software.
Let us first think about branding in a holistic fashion: brand awareness is created by marketers, and brand experience is developed by customer success and sales teams. But as previously mentioned, the customer is an integral part of this equation as well. They are the people who ultimately determine whether a service or product has a future in the marketplace. This group of people who endorse and organically promote your brand comprise your “brand community.” Not only is this user base your ideal buyer persona but they are much more than that, becoming ambassadors of your business!
What is a brand community?
A brand community is a group of people who endorse or align themselves with a brand because they love certain aspects of it. They might be avid users of your products and services, or your brand’s culture and values might resonate with them.
There are some defining characteristics of a brand community. They are:
- Shared traditions – Members of a brand community build an interconnected, unique set of values and experiences that differentiate them from other communities
- Consciousness of kind – Members of a brand community see a distinct separation between in-group and out-of-group members, the perceived membership gives them the feeling of belonging to the brand community
- Sense of identity – This is the self-concept each member develops around the brand based on knowledge and value relationships
- Moral responsibility – members gain the feeling of being morally committed to their brand community peers and upholding certain shared ideologies.
To better illustrate what a brand community is, let us look at an example of a business that has built a rabid brand community over years, helping the company strengthen their revenue and maintain their position as leaders of their industry: Nike.
When it comes to sneaker culture, Nike is undoubtedly the world’s most influential brand in this category thanks to its loyal brand community. The sneaker community is very vocal about their likes and dislikes, and Nike pays close attention to what they have to say. The company has developed an experience around their customers to optimize the whole process of engaging with their brand. Everything from their colour palette to their social media presence is built around their brand community. Nike has a deep market understanding of how fitness and fashion are the two most important pillars of their business, and keep strengthening their brand loyalty by tapping into the minds of their customers.
For example, Nike frequently collaborates with high profile designer labels such as Dior or Louis Vuitton for creating “limited edition” shoes since they have understood that sneakerheads love exclusivity. Some of their most simple and plain shoes are often auctioned for multiple times their retail price, which is a testament to how their customers value rarity. So to exploit this to their advantage, they went a step further by combining luxury and exclusivity. “Even if you have the money to afford these shoes, you will still have a hard time getting your hands on them!” This appeals directly to their customer base and helps maintain Nike’s position at the forefront of sneaker culture. Even though competitors such as Adidas or Puma offer nearly identical products in terms of shoe quality and design, the loyal brand community Nike has created is its moat that has kept it head and shoulders above competition.
What are the benefits of strengthening your brand community?
- Increased brand visibility
The best advertising is through word of mouth and direct referral. When customers are passionate about a product or service, it spreads like wildfire. To add to this, your potential customers care more about what your current customers have to say than what you have to say. This is why cultivating a loyal brand community is essential. If done right, your current user base alone can grow your brand for you. For example, clothing brand ZARA spends absolutely nothing on advertising – yet they are world famous for being a fast-fashion brand. How? Their customers are their biggest brand ambassadors.
- High retention
If you have a user base with a strong affinity towards your brand, they are almost guaranteed to be repeat customers. Having a high retention rate is a critical factor to the success of any brand, and creating a brand community is one of the best ways to increase your customer retention.
- An influx of user generated content
Brands represent a lifestyle and way of thinking. Whether it is sustainable fashion or vegan food, people pick companies that they resonate with beyond just the product or service they are consuming. Therefore they are the people who will be sharing photos and videos of themselves using your product online, giving their honest opinions and reviews. This data is coming straight from the mouth of your consumer, giving you the best opportunity for refining and improving your brand. What’s a better way to run experiments and launch your next hit product?
How to use creative tools to strengthen your brand community
- Create video content – lots of it
Whether it is viral video marketing, generating brand awareness, coming up with a quirky ad campaign, or developing a video guide for your service, video marketing works. Not only does it work, it is highly effective. Video content has the highest engagement rate of all media on the internet, and helps communicate your brand’s identity with potential customers. Setting your tone with your audience builds authenticity and a sense of “realness” which is what improves consumers confidence.
But how is it possible for businesses to generate so many personalized videos for different subsections of their audience, that too in different dimensions and formats? Well, creative automation software is the solution to this challenge.
- Maintain consistent branding
In order to build a community around your brand you must first develop familiarity and comfort in the minds of your customers. The most straightforward way to do this is by using brand management tools. In order to ensure a consistent brand experience across different touchpoints and develop brand recall over time you must pay attention to details such as consistent fonts, brand assets, visual design, colour palette and more. This is a tedious task that is prone to error, especially if you are a larger business and have different teams working together. Luckily, creative automation tools simplify this process as well, helping you achieve your goals of growing your brand community.
- Monitor feedback from your customers
Besides your product, your customers want to know more about the vision and culture that defines your brand. Sure, this is something that is constantly evolving. But you do not control the narrative of your brand – your customers are part of the journey too, and play a huge role in shaping the future of your business. Therefore, you need to implement tools that gauge user engagement to better understand what works and what doesn’t. This could be in the form of displaying different ad variants or personalizing your banners and videos for different cohorts. By catering to your audience’s needs you are greatly improving your chances that they become lifelong fans of your brand. Establishing your brand as one that truly listens to their customers and puts them first is a great endeavour and one that has a huge payoff.
Creating a community around your brand is a long process that requires consistent effort. However, using a combination of strategic planning and creative automation tools you can greatly improve your brand management process to achieve this goal. Once you have built a loyal and dedicated brand community, you are in an enviable position regardless of your industry, because you can tap into this user base to grow your business organically and at an unbelievable pace.