Post by Prasad Narasimhan, Managing Partner for South East Asia, based in Bangalore.

Brand communities are not new. The Harley Owners Group (HOG), for example, is the stuff of legend. Yet, iconic examples of brand communities are rare, given the logistical & commercial challenges of growing these communities of loyalists. 

All that’s changed in today’s digital-first world. Costs of reach and engagement have crashed and brands are increasingly embracing communities to build competitive advantage. This is no longer a fancy idea, but an imperative for many brands to drive brand stickiness and profitable growth.

Successful brand communities attract millions of consumers, who buy from the brand, follow its social content, share their experiences with one another and even enthusiastically advocate it to their networks. Members are emotionally invested in the company of other brand lovers. Crucially, communities rally a brand’s most loyal consumers in one place, which is a massive win for any brand team. 

It is a ‘space’ (physical, digital, phygital), where consumers who are emotionally connected to a brand can connect with each other even as they connect with the brand. 

Most large brands already have a community on social media. Think of Apple consumers who’re constantly reaching out to one another to share queries, suggestions, frustrations, joys or hacks. Even as consumers are already finding one another, brands often just need to stay back and ‘shepherd’ the community with a light touch; connect with it and create ways for members to interact with each other in interesting new ways.


Builds business. Every brand manager dreams of having access to large groups of consumers who regularly use the brand. Such access is a godsend, whether one is testing new ideas (products, services, features, comms…), sharing blogs, or indeed collecting real-time feedback. Lego is a superb example of a brand that constantly taps into its community to develop newer innovations.

Builds awareness. Members are eager to share your brand’s content, and how they’ve experienced your brand, especially when it gives them social currency. This in turn helps convince others to try your brand. Nike uses the power of community brilliantly to build awareness and desire for their latest innovations.

Fosters loyalty. Successful communities get members to feel seen, heard, and included – super important for brands that deliver distinctive experiences. Think Harley and the HOG; every experience excites consumers and makes them come back into the brand’s experience, again and again, and along with others.

Improves communication. Brands speak to their consumers directly, avoiding the noise of traditional media environments. They are also able to engage consumers in two-way conversations. Quick feedback from engaged consumers keeps brand teams on their toes, creating new ideas for them. Starbucks constantly engages its community for newer ideas to surprise and delight them.

Amplifies brand experience. Communities offer a constant laboratory for brands to experiment with how consumers feel as they interact with the brand. Creating positive, talk-worthy experiences needs sequential consumer feedback. Service managers at Royal Enfield are constantly riding with their customers, enhancing brand experiences every day.


Since every brand community is different, there isn’t a universal approach. But the following steps are key.

Define the brand. What’s your brand’s purpose? Who is it trying to help? What is your brand personality & voice? The clearer we can articulate these, the easier for us to attract the right members.

Define objectives. Why are we creating this community? What will success look like? What metrics will we track? How will your brand community goals help your brand goals – reputation, penetration, loyalty?…

Choose your platform. There are several ways in which brands can set up for communities:

Forums are ideal for large communities to connect over shared interests, whether they’re directly about the brand or not. For example, Spotify’s community forum allows members to chat about artists, playlists or just the music they love.

Creating groups on Facebook or LinkedIn that members can join and interact on e.g. Visme, a graphic design platform created a The Visme Lounge on FB, where engaged members go to get and share ideas.

Directly engaging on the brand’s platform, using Instagram stories to regularly communicate with members, including Q&As, voting, and other interactive means. Traya, an Indian startup focused on hair loss, does this brilliantly.

Communities can also be built or activated through a hashtag. Disney and Make a Wish Foundation do this successfully, where they engage their community to come together to contribute to worthy causes

Rewards are another way to engage communities, by imagining programs that gives back to your most loyal consumers, giving them access to perks that make them feel special. Starbucks rewards members every time they order through the Starbucks app, add up to perks such as free drinks.


In conclusion, brand communities look they are here to stay. Creating a community is easy. But fostering one is hard – it needs belief, tenacity and a clarity on objectives, as discussed above.