How To Leverage Community To Build A Great Brand

Are you doing enough to tap into your community? Columnist Joanna Lord explains why community is key to building a memorable brand.

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mobile-tablet-phone-people-2Building a great brand is top of mind for today’s best marketers. They know that to succeed in today’s competitive climate their brands need to stand for something that millions of consumers are willing to stand behind. But how exactly do you do that?

A lot goes into creating a brand that is truly differentiated in the market. Two key assets that we as marketers understand well are the product itself and the culture of the company.

Whereas many years ago we overly focused on selling product features and value, recently there has been a shift to also package and share the team philosophy, company culture and mission. When all of this is combined, it hopefully creates a brand worth believing in.

But what about the community behind that brand? In my experiences at Porch, I’ve seen a triangulation in value between the product, the company culture, and the community as key assets to building a great brand. Community is often considered something that “comes later” or something that is optional, but the best brands in the world know differently.

Let’s walk through the top ways you can leverage the community you are creating to build a great brand.

Create A Rally Point

Great brands know that behind the product there needs to be a reason the company truly exists. This taps into the reasons the company founders decided to take this chance or leap into this adventure in the first place.

This can come in the form of a mission statement, or values, or even a mantra. Taking that essence and empowering your team to not just embody it, but also truly share it with the world, is what it means to “create a rally point.”

As marketers, we must take the time to build in a way that lets our team participate in the marketing of our rally point. This can involve creating social media policies that allow team members to share the company’s personality at any time, encouraging them to take pictures, videos, snaps of all things in and around your office.

Create a hashtag for your team to use so you can track and circulate the best rally moments in the office on a weekly basis. Invest deeply in company swag, special events for your team to celebrate your rally point, and office totems that show off that special something.

The more you invest in operationally empowering your team to share your mission and values with the world, the more authentic mission marketing moments occur — less created campaigns and more organic ones. Remember, your team is your first community. Give them the ability to market on your company’s behalf.

Invest In Your “Only” Statement

Great marketers know the importance of working for companies that have a defendable asset. This can be proprietary data, a trademarked feature, particular service or partnership that they can claim – is theirs alone. These companies are the best to market for because you have a weapon in your arsenal that is truly defensible and that builds great brands.

But what about actually “investing” in that asset? What are you doing to build out that asset, or as we call it at Porch, “extending your moat?” The more you set up infrastructure and intentionally structure your team to invest and extend this “only” statement, the more firepower you are giving your community to use it on your behalf.

What do I mean by that? If a set of data is unique to you, have you set up your team to collect more of it on an ongoing rhythm? If it’s a service you provide, have you built out the team structure that enables you to consistently build out that service?

If it’s a policy, like that of Nordstrom’s infamous Return Policy, have you built it deeply into the roots of the company so it’s front of mind in every business decision?

You need to set up the company to give your community more of what it needs to truly defend you when up against competitors. They need your “only” statement so they can loyally stand behind it.

I call this your “drop the mic” moment, and it’s a great asset to hand your community on your behalf.

Participate Fully In The Ecosystem

This one is near and dear to my heart, and at the core of what I believe to truly be better marketing. The best brands in the world understand they must truly participate in their industry. This includes everything from providing free resources, to educating and inspiring community members, to partnering with other brands to bring the best experiences to their industry.

Some marketers see this as inbound marketing, and others see it as content marketing – I simply believe that the more value you pump into your industry the more a community will build around that value.

Brand loyalty is a psychological connection between a consumer and a brand. It often stems from both the consumer and brand having similar icons, sharing similar rituals, and connecting over similar words. The more you can curate, build, and share these icons, rituals and words –the stronger the community behind your brand becomes.

In Conclusion

As marketers we are tasked with a big challenge. We must build beautiful brands that stand out from the crowd, and then we must get thousands, if not millions, of consumers rallied behind our brands. Community is a key asset to building a truly memorable brand.

Are you doing enough to set your community up to succeed? If not, are you willing to lose out on one of your best brand advantages? Marketers today must push ourselves to build great stories that share not just our products and our cultures but empower our communities to share them with us.

Contributing authors are invited to create content for MarTech and are chosen for their expertise and contribution to the martech community. Our contributors work under the oversight of the editorial staff and contributions are checked for quality and relevance to our readers. The opinions they express are their own.

About the author

Joanna Lord
Joanna Lord is Chief Marketing Officer of ClassPass, the world's largest fitness marketplace. Prior to that she was the VP of Marketing at Porch, a leading consumer marketplace connecting homeowners and home professionals. Prior to that, she served as Chief Marketing Officer at BigDoor, a loyalty software provider and VP of Growth Marketing at Moz (previously SEOmoz), a leading inbound analytics software. She’s an expert in brand marketing, acquisition models, engagement tactics, and retention marketing that drive business growth. Lord is a global keynote speaker on the future of digital marketing, a tech advisor, as well as a mentor to a variety of tech incubators including Techstars, UpGlobal and Startup Weekend. Lord recently relocated from Seattle, WA where she taught Advanced Digital Marketing at the University of Washington, and was recognized as a Seattle 40 Under 40. She nows live in NYC where she drinks way too much coffee and talks marketing with anyone who is up for it.

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