Getting Brand Communities Right \u2013 Notes - By Jessica Gahtan Getting Brand Communities Right \u2013 Notes-\u00ad\u2010-\u00ad\u2010-\u00ad\u2010-\u00ad\u2010-\u00ad\u2010-\u00ad\u2010-\u00ad\u2010 A

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Unformatted text preview: By: Jessica Gahtan Getting Brand Communities Right – Notes -­‐ -­‐ -­‐ -­‐ -­‐ -­‐ -­‐ A brand community is a group of ardent consumers organized around the lifestyle, activities, and ethos of the brand Companies are inspired by Harley Davidson and enabled by Web 2.0 Now is a good time to create a brand community because people are hungry for a sense of connection Many companies aspire to the customer loyalty, marketing efficiency, and brand authenticity that strong communities deliver – few understand how to achieve such benefits This article identifies and dispels 7 common myths about maximizing value for a firm. For companies that are considering a community strategy – offer cautions and design principles For companies with existing brand communities – offer new approaches aimed at increasing impact IDEA IN BRIEF: -­‐ -­‐ -­‐ Many companies that try to turn their customers into a cohesive ‘brand community’ falter because of serious misconceptions. For instance, they relegate community building to the marketing department instead of treating it as a high-­‐ level strategy, or they assume that an interactive website will do the trick To build and maintain strong brand communities, companies must understand the individual and social needs of members and do everything possible to support and engage them on their own terms. Rather than attempting to control the community, the company should be guided by it: Indeed, the brand community experience should be central to the firm’s business model By managing their communities with a light, open touch – and sustaining them with corporate-­‐level commitment – firms can build fierce customer loyalty, increase marketing efficiency, and enhance their brand Myth #1: A brand community is a marketing strategy. Reality: A brand community is a business strategy. -­‐ For a brand to yield maximum benefit, it must be framed as a high-­‐level strategy supporting business-­‐wide goals -­‐ Harley Davidson realized that the brand had developed a community-­‐based phenomenon (“brotherhood” of riders, united by a shared ethos, offered Harley the basis for a strategic repositioning as a company that understood bikers on their own terms) -­‐ To reinforce this community-­‐centric positioning, staffed all community-­‐outreach events with employees rather than hired hands MKTG 4560 Page 1 By: Jessica Gahtan Myth #2: A brand community exists to serve the business Reality: A brand community exists to serve the people in it -­‐ A community based brand builds loyalty not by driving sales transactions but by helping people meet their needs -­‐ The needs that brand communities can satisfy are not just about gaining status or trying on a new identity through brand affiliation -­‐ People participate in communities for a wide variety of reasons – e.g. finding emotional support and encouragement, to explore ways to contribute to the greater good, and to cultivate interests and skills -­‐ Often, people are more interested in the social links that come from brand affiliations than they are in the brands themselves – they join communities to build new relationships (e.g. Facebook) -­‐ “Third place” brands such as Starbucks tap into this by providing bricks and mortars venues that foster interactions • In such instances, brand loyalty is the reward for meeting people’s needs for community, not the impetus for the community to form -­‐ Robust communities are build on an understanding of members’ lives (not on brand reputation) -­‐ E.g. Goldfish Myth #3: Build the Brand, and the community will follow Reality: Engineer the community, and the brand will be strong -­‐ 3 basic forms of community affiliation: pools, webs and hubs -­‐ Effective community strategies combine all 3 in a mutually reinforcing system -­‐ Members of pools: are united by shared goals or values • Pool-­‐based approach to brand building: identify and consistently communicate a clear set of values that emotionally connect with the brand • Pools only deliver limited community benefits – people share a set of abstract beliefs but build few interpersonal relationships • Common meaning that holds members together becomes diluted if the brand attempts to grow • Unless the affiliation to a brand is supplemented with human connections, community members are at risk of dropping out • Solution: Use webs and hubs to strengthen and expand the community -­‐ Web affiliations are based on strong one-­‐to-­‐one connections. • They’re the strongest and most stable form of community because the people in them are bound by many and varied relationships -­‐ Members of hubs are united by their admiration of an individual • Strong but unstable form of community • Often breaks apart once the central figure is no longer present • Hubs can help communities acquire new members who hold similar values • They can be used to create or strengthen a brand pool (e.g. Nike when they associate with Michael Jordan) MKTG 4560 Page 2 By: Jessica Gahtan • To build stable communities, hub connections must be bonded to the community through webs to strengthen its pool and hubs Myth #4: Brand communities should be love-­‐fests for faithful brand advocates Reality: Smart companies embrace the conflicts that make communities thrive -­‐ Most companies prefer to avoid conflict -­‐ Communities are inherently political, and conflict is the norm -­‐ “In” groups need “out” groups against which to define themselves -­‐ Community is all about rivalries and lines drawn in the sand -­‐ Dove used conflict to their advantage with the real beauty campaign -­‐ Firms can reinforce rivalries directly or engage others to fan the flames – e.g. Pepsi Challenge -­‐ A group’s unity is strengthened when conflicts and contrasts are brought to the fore -­‐ Some companies make the mistake of trying to smooth things over -­‐ Communities become stronger by highlighting, not erasing, the boundaries that define them Myth #5: Opinion leaders build strong communities Reality: Communities are strongest when everyone plays a role -­‐ Opinion leaders spread information, influence decisions, and help new ideas gain traction – focusing on them is good advice for buzz campaigns but misguided approach to community building -­‐ Robust communities establish cultural bedrock by enabling everyone to play a valuable role -­‐ Those designing new communities can create structures and support systems to ensure the availability of a wide range of roles -­‐ Recognizing that life changes often prompts people to reevaluate their affiliations, successful communities give members opportunities to take on new roles, alternative between roles, and negotiate tensions across roles in conflict – without ever leaving the fold Myth #6: Online social networks are the key to a community strategy Reality: Online networks are just one tool, not a community strategy -­‐ Online social networks get lots of buzz and given today’s enabling technologies it seems silly to pass up opportunities in the virtual world -­‐ Most company-­‐sponsored online “communities” are nothing more than far-­‐flung focus groups established in the hope that consumers will bond around the virtual suggestion box -­‐> nothing wrong with listening to customers but this isn’t a community strategy -­‐ Online social networks can serve valuable communication functions – they help people find rich solutions to ambiguous problems and serendipitous connections to people and ideas MKTG 4560 Page 3 By: Jessica Gahtan -­‐ -­‐ -­‐ Limitations of networking sites include the anonymity of the web encounters emboldening antisocial behaviour and shallow, transient nature of many online interactions results in weak social bonds Physical spaces play important roles in fostering community connections Smart marketers use online tools selectively to support community needs – e.g. L’Oreal’s community building strategies always connect the people who make up the community in ways that reaffirm the essence of the brand Myth #7: Successful Brand Communities are tightly managed and controlled Reality: Of and by the people, communities defy managerial control -­‐ Excessive control has been the norm when it comes to community management -­‐ Community managers tend to put corporate interests over those of their customers -­‐ Such efforts have led to vigorous debate about how much control to asset over brand communities <-­‐ Wrong question -­‐ Brand communities aren’t corporate assets, so control is an illusion -­‐ Relinquishing control doesn’t mean abdicating responsibility -­‐ Effective brand stewards participate as community co-­‐creators – nurturing and facilitating communities by creating the conditions in which they can thrive -­‐ Companies build effective communities through a design philosophy that replaces control with a balance of structure and flexibility -­‐ Whether through constructive engagement, script-­‐based design, or other means, smart companies define the terms of their community participation but discard their illusions of control Are you ready? -­‐ -­‐ -­‐ Though any brand can benefit from a community strategy, not all of them can pull it off – requires an organization-­‐wide commitment and a willingness to work across functional boundaries Community is a potent strategy if approached with the right mind set and skills A strong brand community increases customer loyalty, lowers marketing costs, authenticates brand meanings, and yields an influx of ideas to grow the business MKTG 4560 Page 4 By: Jessica Gahtan Summary Table Myth A brand community is a marketing strategy A brand community exists to serve the business Build the brand, and the community will follow Brand communities should be love-­‐fests for faithful brand advocates Opinion leaders build strong communities Reality A brand community is a business strategy A brand community exists to serve the people in it Engineer the community, and the brand will be strong Smart companies embrace the conflicts that make communities thrive Communities are strongest when everyone plays a role Online networks are just one tool, not a community strategy Of and by the people, communities defy managerial control Online social networks are the key to a community strategy Successful brand communities are tightly managed and controlled MKTG 4560 Page 5 ...
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  • Fall '11
  • DetlevZwick
  • Marketing, Brand, harley  davidson, Jessica  Gahtan, Online  social  networks

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