Why building brand community is so important

It’s proven that a business that can demonstrate a social purpose and greater long-term ambition than their own bottom line are ultimately more successful. People and communities are becoming increasingly invested in supporting projects and products that have a positive purpose. The reason for this could be because the more isolated we become with intelligent technology, the more we crave deeper connections with the world around us.

A report from Havas showed that the respondents said that they would prefer to live somewhere where they could share more resources. The report also showed that 60% felt that living in a city felt too impersonal and that there was no sense of community.

Corporate responsibility is therefore becoming a more integrated part of business and less of an afterthought, and, in-turn, the impact these companies have is more sustainable and effective in the long run. As explained by Co-founder and CEO of Who Gives a Crap Simon Griffiths, implementing a solution that solves multiple aspects of a social issue, particularly if one of those is poor education, is ultimately more effective than implementing a single ‘quick fix’ solution. Simon uses community led total sanitation as an example, an approach which includes implementing three things: clean water, toilets, and the sanitation education that grows with that.“The research shows that if you do one of those three things by itself, you're about 10% as effective as when you do all three of those things together.”
The ability for a company to build ‘community’ around their product or idea is now becoming an essential in today’s entrepreneurial market. As more and more brands are popping up and vying for the customer’s attention, advertising becomes increasingly expensive and the brand’s message can become diluted in the sheer amount of content available. It’s at this point that having built a community around your brand and its purpose becomes really important to building a global company from the ground up.

Entire platforms are being built around this philosophy now. Crowdfunding sites like StartSomeGood are designed to attract and showcase purpose-driven enterprises from people looking to make a difference, no matter how big or small, with the help of communities looking to do the same. 

At the same time, what problems could this present for larger incumbents who haven’t fostered that community and aren’t as nimble or agile as many emerging start-ups are? How can companies build this community? Well, it’s never too late to jump on this growing trend of building purpose into your work and tapping into the power of a community who cares about the same purpose.

Companies can build their brands by implementing purpose and tapping into the power of a community.

*Photo: Vinomofo
Building community through shared interests

Vinomofo – Going global by creating an online tribe of wine-lovers

Founded in 2007, and officially launched in 2011, the founders behind Australia’s largest pure play online wine retailer Vinomofo are passionate about bringing people together through a mutual love of wine, food and living their best life. The organisation was also built with the intention of helping winemakers sustain and grow their businesses in an increasingly homogenised industry.

The founders understood the power of social networks for creating communities of people who would enjoy similar things - wine, in this instance. 
Using social media to connect

In the early days, when money was running low and the co-founders Justin Dry and Andre Eikmeier needed to re-think their approach to the business, they turned to their online community and asked ‘should we sell wine instead?’ A resounding yes from that community saw the creation of the online selling platform Vinomofo. In the time since, the company has grown to attract over 500,000 wine-lovers. 

“One of the big advantages we’ve had is that we have been really early to get on all the platforms. Whatever was new at the time, whether it was Facebook or Snapchat, we were testing them out early. When a new platform launches, there’s a time before the big players get involved. Facebook was, in its early days, a very efficient way to reach new potential customers, and the spend that was required to get in front of the right people was a lot lower than it is today. The standard practice is to wait to see how things are working, and then wait a little more, and then jump on the bandwagon. But there is a real advantage to being a first mover,” Justin Dry explained.

Building community around the environment

Patagonia – A brand backed by purpose, not profit

With a long history in the adventure activewear industry, Patagonia has learnt a lot about being a simultaneously purpose-driven and profitable company. As part of their mission statement, their role as a vehicle for the love of the great outdoors meant they needed to participate in the fight to save it.

As Vincent Stanley, Director of Philosophy at Patagonia, spoke about recently, “I'm deeply convinced that no business will be able to operate within the next 10 years without addressing the harms it causes, without mitigating those, without trying to help solve social and environmental problems.”

A new initiative, Patagonia Action Works, is utilising their long-fostered community of customers who love the outdoors and want to fight and find solutions to the world’s most pressing environmental issues. This works by connecting committed individuals to grassroots organisations that bring awareness and action to environmental issues that the’re mutually passionate about. This can include bringing skills that can be used to volunteer, donating or signing petitions for a variety of causes.

Building a community around an enterprise is one way in which businesses today are making their mark and building connections where we may have become more isolated with new technology.. And this has extended beyond typical non-profits and towards more ‘traditional’ businesses and start-ups in order to do more good for the world, and build an amazing brand that people resonate with on a deeper level.

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