To My Brand, With Love!

– 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

15 thoughts on “To My Brand, With Love!

  1. In the case of Harry Potter, I’m impressed that JK Rowling is able to keep her fan base. I think it’s a difficult task to keep your original fan base as they grow older. Not everyone stays attached to a brand as they age. I know I’m no longer a fan of Beanie Babies, or Pokemon, the same way I used to be. There will always be a sense of nostalgia, but did these brands fail in creating a sustainable community? I think some could argue yes. It’s interesting to see how brands respond differently.

  2. I always wondered if Rowling would write another Harry Potter book – perhaps another sequel or prequel. She has stated she hasn’t given up on the possibility but as now the seven-book series is at a standstill and the movies of the books are obviously done. Creating Pottermore was a unique and smart way to keep those Potter fans still involved in Harry’s magical land without actually creating new content via a whole new book. There is a such a huge Harry Potter fan base that Pottermore is able to connect these fans and build an interactive community. What a great example!

  3. It’s interesting to see the different communities of different brands. I also think brands can be used very loosely. Those communities are everywhere and we just overlook them. I bet there’s a community of people that grew up watching Boy Meets World or even that whole TGIF segment in general that still have love for those shows. There will always be communities, even small ones, of fans that will always keep that brand, show or whatever it is in their hearts. I think everyone has a brand they rely on or go towards, even if they don’t realize it. I always choose Asics tennis shoes just because. Nothing too special about them except I’ve just always chosen them and they are familiar to me. In that case those are my brand.

  4. Great example of brand community and brand loyalty. I watched the intro video for Pottermore and it looks like it would be a worthwhile site for Harry Potter fans. It seems very interesting to me to see the evolution from books to movies and now a dedicated website. Rowling is very smart to continue to engage the fans of Harry Potter is this new medium.

  5. I also think that a successful brand changes with the times, but I think what is crucial is that a brand always stays true to its roots. One of my favorite examples of this is Nike. In 1986 Nike released the “Revolution” campaign and in 2012 the “Make it Count” campaign. If you look at the main advertisements for these campaigns they are quite similar in their essence and spot on the same in their message. I think brands that can span 26 years and still send the same message are absolutely building brand communities and doing it right.

  6. I quite agree with the Nile example, however brands also need to evolve since people are evolving all the time :-)
    To refer to Kelsey’s statement, in my opinion HP from its very inception was not targeted to a particular age group!Though many children have to thank Rowling for making the kids get back to reading books in this day and age of Xbox and other game consoles….i have seen many adults too being crazy and sometimes fanatic fans of HP!

  7. I was a huge fan of Harry Potter. I read the books, saw the movies opening night, bought Bertie Bott’s every flavor beans and even got a poster with the stars autographs. However, now, I’ve fallen out of my Harry Potter craze. I think as we grow and mature, our tastes change. How do brands acknowledge the changing tastes and opinions of their once loyal fans?

    I think Pottermore is a great example of how JK Rowling built a community for her older fans, younger fans, and even fans who may not be as fanatical as they once were. Pottermore isn’t just about Harry, Ron and Hermione. It’s about the fans that enjoy them, once enjoyed them or are discovering Harry Potter for the first time. When Pottermore was created, my interest that had waned, was peaked once again by the fantastic adventures of Harry and his friends. JK Rowling knew that the craze would die down once the final book and movie were finished, but she has drawn us all back in again.

  8. Great example with Pottermore. I think these websites are awesome because they allow fans to interact with their brand. When I engage in these websites I feel a deeper connection with a brand and my brand loyalty increases! I think there will be an increase in these types of websites in the future!

  9. It is interesting how many niche developments are made in regards to brands. Every time I see a new concept in regards to a brand, I realize how deep people are connected to brands. It is almost like they are public figures. I am impressed with JK for starting Pottermore. That goes to show that creatives are interested in promoting their own products in social media; this is because they know how important it is.

  10. I am/was a Harry Potter ( I plan on visiting Harry Potter land at some point in my life), but when it comes to Pottermore, I’m not a fan. I love being the Harry Potter generation but the series is done, let it be done.

    I will never grow out of the Harry Potter I grew up with, but I think more people have to trust that although a craze isn’t happening, Harry Potter will never die. We’ll show our kids and they’ll be come addicts and so will their kids. It’s an endless cycle of Harry Potter fanatics. The Harry Potter brand is forever.

  11. I think it’s important to note that brands don’t necessarily need a large and active community to be a great brands. You give great examples here, but not all brands are right for big communities. Sometimes people just want to have an individual relationship with a brand and not necessarily be part of a community.

  12. I think social media and technology has done wonders for brands. While it will always be important to adapt and evolve with time social media allows brands to remain relevant by continually engaging and bringing those with common interests together.

  13. Branding can make or break a company, an image or an idea. Keeping the brand or message alive by using social media is a great idea. Audiences become more invested when they are allowed to participate and interact. Potterworld.com is an excellent idea to keep the magic flowing when the books and movies end. Great post!

  14. I absolutely love the idea of Pottermore.com; JK Rowling is a genius. The only skepticism I have involves continuous engagement over a brand that has already ended and is no longer producing content. I would rather her efforts go toward creating an even better, new series.

  15. Great example! I remember when I bought my first Harry Potter book the day it came out, and nothing has changed my obsession with the series/movies/ideas etc. I think in the case of Harry Potter the community build around the books really tied people together and strengthened that sense of community, loyalty and pride. I believe the brand will continue to engage the community through the developments of the theme park in Orlando, for example. I think brands with similar customer communities also pass down their love/devotion to the brand to their kids, continuing that loyalty.

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