Starting a Brand? Grow your Community : Under30CEO Starting a Brand? Grow your Community : Under30CEO
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Starting a Brand? Grow your Community

| July 28, 2009 | 9 Comments

red sox kidBuilding 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. PacSun on Twitter or Zappos on Twitter
  • 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.  Check out Tom’s Shoes Get Involved Page.

“You don’t want customers, you want fans with money.” -Frank Kern

mattwilsonAuthor Matt Wilson is co-founder of Under30CEO, challenging people to defy the 9-5, stop doing stuff you hate and get innovative. Wilson graduated from Bryant University after leading Bryant University to becoming the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization of the year and earning himself National Student Leader of the Year.

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Category: Finding Customers, Startup Advice

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    For the record–I hate the sox.

    Also, sorry about 2 articles in the last week having people flipping the bird in the picture–they pictures were just too good to pass up.

  • http://Under30CEO.com Jared O'Toole

    Also know who is NOT in your community. You cant be everything to everyone. You want to have people who you dont want in your community. This is why your community is there in the 1st place…because they feel they are a part of something special and not everyone can join.

  • tejas_bhatt

    Businesses, not in consumer goods or without such direct involvement of customers, can also create a brand-following. They have to start by giving back to their community.

  • http://Under30CEO.com Jared O'Toole

    The classic give to get mentality is very powerful.

  • tejas_bhatt

    It is chiefly because unless you are a company who is directly involved with a large customer base, it is hard to create a fan following. i.e. a software company (unless they are Apple of course), or a finance company can hardly dream of having a strong fan-base. They have to look at other ways of creating a brand following, by creating general events where everyone can participate.

    A finance company in my city arranges a seven day classical music show for people. Not to mention, it has become one of the most significant culture event in the city over time, winning the company a fan-base it would not have gained otherwise.

  • http://Under30CEO.com Jared O'Toole

    The classic give to get mentality is very powerful.

  • tejas_bhatt

    It is chiefly because unless you are a company who is directly involved with a large customer base, it is hard to create a fan following. i.e. a software company (unless they are Apple of course), or a finance company can hardly dream of having a strong fan-base. They have to look at other ways of creating a brand following, by creating general events where everyone can participate.

    A finance company in my city arranges a seven day classical music show for people. Not to mention, it has become one of the most significant culture event in the city over time, winning the company a fan-base it would not have gained otherwise.

  • http://Under30CEO.com Jared O'Toole

    The classic give to get mentality is very powerful.

  • tejas_bhatt

    It is chiefly because unless you are a company who is directly involved with a large customer base, it is hard to create a fan following. i.e. a software company (unless they are Apple of course), or a finance company can hardly dream of having a strong fan-base. They have to look at other ways of creating a brand following, by creating general events where everyone can participate.

    A finance company in my city arranges a seven day classical music show for people. Not to mention, it has become one of the most significant culture event in the city over time, winning the company a fan-base it would not have gained otherwise.