Grow Your Business By Growing Your Brand Community

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Canadian SME Business Magazine

Wayne S Roberts
Creative Branding Innovator
Blade Creative Branding Inc.

Characterized by the Globe and Mail as “an ad industry provocateur,” Wayne brings more than 25 years of award-winning experience in strategic branding, creative advertising and innovative online solutions to Blade’s clients.

He has “columned” for Canadian Business magazine, and been featured in the Globe and Mail, Marketing & Strategy magazines. He has been interviewed on Global TV and Radio Canada, commenting on modern branding issues.

As an educator and public speaker, Wayne has entertained and inspired audiences ranging from National Bank to McMaster University’s FORGE start-up incubator. His commitments to straight talk, creative collaborative and building friendly business relationships are the defining characteristic s of Blade Creative Branding, the agency he founded in 1991.


The Brand Building Secret You May Have Forgotten 

 

Whether you’ve created and/or run a small or medium business, you might define your brand in a way that all successful, modern brands do. What’s weird is that a lot of brands don’t know they are using this definition or perspective to inform everything they do to grow their businesses. 

Embracing this perspective, using this language and managing your brand differently, as a result, is the key to charting a path to a more growth-oriented future and an even more profitable business model. The reason is simple – when you see your brand differently, you discover the value and staying power of an essential truth that informs all brands. 

 

Truth: People Don’t Buy Anything. 

 

Before we reveal the “secret” perspective, let’s first understand the almost DNA-based relationship you have with your customers. One that is reinforced with every transaction that takes place, financial or otherwise. 

As contradictory as this may seem on the surface, the truth is your customers don’t buy anything from you. Sure, they drive up to car-friendly service windows, line up in the rain for super sales, or cluster around crowded service counters to order their favourite burger. But the financial investment they make is the product of a more profound emotional investment they’ve made in your brand promise. Simply put: they don’t buy – they buy IN. 

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Provided you keep delivering on your promises, they’ll continue to buy in automatically. When prompted as to what kind of coffee, fried chicken or sweet treat they want, they’ll spontaneously blurt out their brand preference, triggered in their brains at 186,000 miles per second – the speed of light. It happens so fast, they don’t even think about it. 

 

The “Secret” Perspective That Inspires Everything About Your Brand 

 

There is only one reason to justify why you invest so heavily in the myriad strategies and tactics that grow brand awareness and invite brand engagement. That justification can be summed up as follows: You’re not just creating a brand and a business. You’re creating a community – a brand community. 

Seeing your brand as a community is the secret to coordinating all of your marketing efforts, internally and externally, in a way that inspires loyalty; and that can transform your business into a self-perpetuating movement that grows organically every day of the year … forever. 

It’s helpful to remember that seeing your brand as a community creates a near default setting for your customers. It expresses itself in the same way people will respond when asked where they live, for example. They don’t have to think about it because it’s a virtually autonomic response. Autonomic meaning hardwired into their physiology – like breathing or their heartbeat. THAT’s enduring loyalty because it’s based on customers taking up residence in your brand and calling it “home.” 

The reason why seeing your brand as a community is so relevant and useful is because it establishes a business ethos that recognizes and embraces another truth about modern branding. One you may be uncomfortable accepting, at your peril. 

 

Truth: You Don’t Own the Brand 

 

You don’t have to look too far back in the annals of branding legend and lore to see the mind- boggling blunders that befell powerful brands whose “owners” decided they had a license to pursue profits and not maintain their focus on serving their community’s needs. 

While it may not be a small-medium sized business, Volkswagen is still a dealer network and is still suffering from a head office decision to report less than accurate data on its emissions testing results. The tally to date for that mess, in fines alone, is approaching $20billion (USD). Some have speculated that if Volkswagen had instead invested in engineering more efficient engines, the cost may have been as little as a quarter of the aforementioned penalties. 

Volkswagen’s executives did the same thing Coke did back in the 80’s and that numerous other brands have done since – they believed they owned the brand. 

Even if you personally built your with your bare hands, you stopped “owning” the brand the minute you sold your first product or service. The mechanics are simple – you’re in a relationship with the people who really own the brand because they bought in – and keep buying in day after day. 

 

That gives them the right to expect you to serve their needs first. You can cheat and maybe get away with it. But why cut corners? It’s smarter, in the long run, to just find better ways to serve your community – and that will serve your business growth. 

 

Happiness Loves Company, too. 

 

Misery’s not the only thing that loves company – happiness attracts a helluva crowd from which you can build a powerful brand community. 

Seeing your brand as a community creates a culture of support and care inside your organization that will quickly find its way out to your customers in all of your daily operations. In happy organizations, there exists a collaborative culture that puts the customers’ interests above everything else. 

When that culture pervades your business, your customers take up the task of sharing their happy stories about their experiences with “their” brand. It might seem old school to encourage spontaneous testimonials and endorsements, but user-generated, positive content is the gold standard result of delivering on your promises. 

Besides, no amount of flashy ads, super cool store layouts and deep price discounts is going to repair a broken promise. So, keep your promises simple and make every effort to deliver on them consistently. 

The ongoing dividend you reap from seeing your brand as something more than just products or service attributes at an attractive price, is a thriving community that consistently attracts new residents. 

So keep the streets clean, keep the lights on, and keep delivering on your promises. Then enjoy the benefits as your brand community become a growing movement that can’t be stopped. 

 

Five Essential Benefits of Embracing the Brand Community Perspective 

 

  • Puts the Customer Relationship First … so you’re always innovating better ways to deliver on your promises. 
  • Rationalizes Marketing Investments … on only those strategies and tactics that will enhance customer loyalty. 
  • Creates Endless Opportunities to Expand the Brand Narrative … because your customers will take up the job of telling the happy story of their relationship with, and residency in, the brand. 
  • Blunts the Competition’s Efforts to Steal Customers … because you’re focused on building and bettering your community, it’s less likely folks will move out. 
  • Enhances Internal Corporate Culture … because your employees are core members of the community, their buy in is just as essential as your customers’. After all, they’re the face and voice of your brand so keeping them happy matters, too. 

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