BRAND DRIVES DEMAND Through Community
Updated: Dec 23, 2018
While "opposites attract", it's equally considerable that "like attracts like". With this in mind, humans naturally gravitate towards people like themselves, due to the comfort of familiarity. A relationship is called a relationship, after all, because fundamentally, humans desire to relate to each other. An easy way to relate to others is to be like others in the first place. Brands can leverage this aspect of psychology to strengthen the relationship between them and their customers, as well as the bond between the customers themselves through brand communities.
There's no bond quite like the one created by a shared interest. For example, if you've ever driven behind a Jeep, you may recall reading, "It's a Jeep thing. You wouldn't understand!". This seems to be true, because personally I do not own a jeep and I do not understand! What Jeep has done is created a community of like-minded car owners. There's no car quite like Jeep, and therefore no brand or community quite like Jeep either. Jeep owners, then, have become very loyal to the brand as there is simply no replacement.
The Harley Davidson Brand is centered around Rider Passion. It's clear that its riders are passionate. Harley riders value freedom, the open road, and love a good rev of the engine. Motorcycle riders (due to their shared interest) are naturally attracted to each other. This forms communities of like-minded Harley riders, which strengthens the Harley-Davidson brand as a whole. Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.) is an online resource that helps to connect riders and share their stories.
Humans have been forming communities for ages, as we naturally evolved from tribes. While some communities are inclusive to all or many, others are exclusive by design. For example, American Express' Centurion Card (commonly known as its "Black Card") is an invitation-only credit card; one is unable to apply for the card and must meet minimum income requirements to be considered. This type of application process breeds exclusivity, secrecy, mystery, and ultimately if accepted, the joining of an elite community. Upon being accepted, one perk of being a cardholder is access to private airport lounges. In these lounges, communities of high-earners are able to gather with their like-minded counterparts.
Humans are social by nature. Brand communities give people a tool to socialize with others who are like-minded and share their brand experience. The internet has allowed Playstation to create an interconnected platform for its global community. Playstation Network (PSN) features rankings, trophies, reward points, forums, friends, and chat features. By doing so, gamers who share the same passion can connect with personal friends, or at a greater scale, the world as a whole. No limits are set thanks to the power of the internet, the desire for social status, and the human need to socialize.
Communities nurture the personal bond that people desire. Brand communities can be built through shared interests, exclusivity, or socialization. It's important to note that brand communities (and brands in general) must start with a good product or service; one that meets (and ideally) exceeds consumer needs. When done right, a strong brand community is an aspect of an effective brand strategy. ▲
You can also watch the "How Brand Drives Demand" speech by Adam Morris.