– Suhasini Sanyal Twitter :SueSanyal LinkedIn : Suhasini Sanyal
In our last class of SSM, we talked about online community and brand community. I was immediately drawn to the question what makes a brand a “community?”
When looking at brands that have successfully adapted to the changing consumer, one needs to look no further than brands like Harley Davidson and Apple. And what do these brands all have in common? Through consumer-centric product development, web initiatives, and innovative communications strategies, they all found ways to foster and nurture a community of their most loyal fans, their brand communities.
Many of the major Brands in today’s marketplace have attracted loyal and enthusiastic fans who have not only made their chosen Brand an integral part of their everyday lives but have also chosen to actively seek out and interact with others who share the same interests as well as those who may have been unaware of the Brand’s benefits. The community that arises from the consistent conversation and interactions among these peers is what we call a brand.
In the world of brand communities, like-minded souls converge around a symbolic nucleus that just happens to be a brand. For example Harry Potter inspires me into this cohesion!
The year is 2012 and that generation has all grown up now. Back in 1997, when it all started, they were just kids, wide-eyed and impressionable. Now? Well, university is done, some are lawyers, some dentists, some made it in the corporates and other high flying jobs, and others are content just to make a home.
They are still connected, though, in a weird kind of way, still itching with an almost furtive desire to exchange the House news, share those Hogwarts rituals, turn up at Quidditch events and remain part of all things Potter.
Sensing the need of a cohort that grew up with her stories to remain connected, both to her fantasy world and to each other, JK Rowling started her website,Pottermore, with the aim of keeping fans involved long into the future.
With the launch of her Pottermore website, JK Rowling has not only given the existing offline community ways to build social engagement, but is ensuring that the commercial value of the brand remains healthy, too. According to Rowling, Pottermore will be ‘the place where fans of any age can share, participate in and rediscover the Harry Potter stories.’
But I wonder now with brands today openly seeking consumer interaction, lines are becoming more blurred and a true brand community more difficult to determine…how do you know its your brand? May be I know one when I see one! And also with so much in marketing, building a brand community comes down to a fair bit of luck and a great deal of work. If only you could just wave a magic wand J