We are wired for connection—as humans, we were never meant to live life alone. If there’s anything that being stuck at home has taught us during this MCO, it’s the importance of belonging to a community as we try to weather the many days ahead.
We have never been more connected yet still disconnected from one another in this day and age. During a time like this, belonging to a community can help us feel seen and heard; a validation we all deeply desire. If anything, this desire is comparable to a brand’s desire to be seen and heard too. Advertisements and marketing materials are present almost everywhere we go. Brands who get caught up in competing for their audience’s attention and crafting their media plans and executions can tend to forget they are communicating with real human beings; full of desires, opinions, and feelings of their own.
As much as brands want to be seen and heard, we realize that our customers and audience want to feel the same way too. We all have the same desire to feel validated and to build deeper connections. Here’s where building a community for your brand can come in to help with that. But I hear your questions already: “Why do I need to do that? I still get sales consistently. Do I really need to fix something that’s not broken?” To answer your questions, here are 4 reasons why building a community for your brand is so important:
1. It creates a sense of belonging for your consumers.
A community is a shared space among individuals who share a common interest. This could range from an interest in reading, writing, or even an interest in your brand! Your consumers can then have a collective safe space to come to when sharing their knowledge or experiences, knowing that they will be seen and heard not just by other community members, but also by you. Think of it as a home; as they say, home is where the heart is. And if you can create a warm and welcoming home for your consumers to belong to, they would surely want to come back, right?
A space like this is also the perfect environment for passionate brand ambassadors to rise. When you build a community, you can have a much easier time expressing your brand’s beliefs and principles in a way that relates to your audience. It’s more than just telling your audience what you stand for (be it through advertising or marketing), it’s about living it out and opening important dialogues about them. Once you resonate with your consumers on this level, they will truly believe in and support your brand and tell others about it.
2. It creates opportunities to engage your customers and audience on a deeper level.
Sometimes, in their efforts to create a flawless image, brands might forget to connect with the people who truly sustain their companies—their consumers.
Research from Procedia – Social and Behavioural Science Journal shows that consumers view brands as relationship builders. What better way to build relationships than through creating a community for your consumers? By building a community, you break down the barrier that exists between businesses and consumers. Your brand becomes more than just communicating your brand messages or product descriptions to your consumers. You begin to look at your consumers as real, genuine people. You pay more attention to what they want, what they care about, and thus, learn how to engage them on a deeper level to address their needs.
We often create space for our Crunch community members to express their thoughts and tell us how they have been coping through the pandemic during community events. It opens up discussions about their feelings and the things that have helped them through. With this knowledge, we know how best to angle our content to cater to our audience and encourage them through these tough times.
3. It creates positive experiences and associations.
Creating a warm and supportive community allows your consumers to experience your brand in a different light. They don’t only experience your brand through your products, packaging, or content. They can also experience your brand by creating positive memories and associations with you. The same research from Procedia shows that positive brand experiences do positively impact brand loyalty.
At our Crunch Book Club meetings, we place a lot of emphasis on just having a fun and relaxing time as we talk about our favourite books. We share our thoughts on the discussion questions and our book recommendations all while laughing with one another. Opportunities like these allow us to truly make our community members happy and light up their day, even though they might have just had a rough week. The more our community members enjoy themselves, the more they’ll tell people about it and want to come back for more!
4. It humanizes your brand.
Possibly one of the most important reasons to build a community for your brand is that it brings your brand down to earth. It puts names and faces to a brand; people we can potentially connect with and talk to. You become more than just ‘the brand on the shelf’ or ‘the brand I saw an influencer talk about’. Instead, you become real, approachable, and human. Who would you feel more comfortable approaching: a big, scary and silent brand, or a warm and friendly human face?
Not only that, but it gives your consumers something to relate to. Humans get angry; brands don’t often do. Humans feel sad, but we can’t always say the same for brands. It’s this element of relatability and vulnerability that causes consumers to empathize with you, and by extension, your brand. With our Crunch community, we don’t need to hide behind a facade that says, “Everything is perfectly fine and I’m so happy right now!” We can express our sadness and struggles openly with our community. While that in itself is a beautiful and wholesome gift, it also reminds our community that we’re human too, and that’s okay.
Creating meaningful connections through a community holds many benefits and joys for both brands and consumers alike. While building a community from scratch can be tough, the results are definitely worth the time and effort invested into it. When you stick it out long enough, you’ll come to see how a great community can add value to and enrich your own life and brand, too.