Why you should obsess over building a community of people who love you

Karishma Borkakoty

May 22, 202311 min read

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Just when it seemed like all hope was lost for Harley-Davidson- the iconic motorcycle brand we all know and love– something crazy happened that changed everything.

It was the 1980s. Harley was up against fierce competition from Japanese manufacturers, causing a decline in market share and leaving the future of the brand uncertain.

But, the company's loyal fans weren't about to let their favorite brand crash and burn!

In a stunning display of love, Harley-Davidson enthusiasts formed the "Harley Owners Group," or HOG, a tribe of passionate riders who would stop at nothing to protect their beloved brand.

HOG members would gather for rallies and events and become brand ambassadors for new customers. For them, riding a Harley was an emotional thing, so they went above and beyond to make the group a second home. And so, just like that, a new chapter in Harley-Davidson's story began.

HOG remains an active and vibrant club with one million members in more than 140 countries.

The story of HOG is a reminder that the most remarkable things can happen when people come together to support something they love.

It’s 2023. The impact brand communities generate has grown by leaps and bounds. No wonder, right? With the rise of social media platforms, it’s a lot easier for customers to connect with each other and the brands they love.

If a brand wants to establish itself as the go-to, it simply cannot afford to overlook the collective feedback, creativity and expertise of a community with shared interests and passion.

Table of Contents

What the heck is a brand community?

A brand community isn’t just a group of like-minded individuals who share a mutual love of a particular brand. It’s a safe space where individuals come together to forge long-lasting relationships with that brand and with each other.

It’s also a knowledge-sharing platform where people feel seen, heard and valued for who they are and not just for what they purchase from the brand.

A brand community can be summed up as a platform for individuals to express their opinions freely and share their own experiences, both good and bad, with a brand. It is comprised of individuals who are passionate about a brand and care enough to offer support to other fellow members. Effective brand community management can drive long-term loyalty, customer advocacy and ultimately drive business growth.

Three key reasons why your brand needs a soul of a vibrant community

Today’s empowered customers aren’t just looking for a quality product; they’re looking for an incredible experience that they can rave about on social media. They yearn for an unbiased platform where their needs and wants are heard.

By building a community where customers can voice their opinions and help their peers with tips and recommendations, you can take customer engagement and brand community management to the next level with little effort.

But that’s not the only reason why you should be thinking about building a brand community.

While the benefits of building a brand community are often linked to customer retention, engagement and loyalty, there are three lesser-known yet important reasons why you should be thinking about creating a community if you don’t have one already.

  • Cast a wider net and source ideas for better brand experiences

  • Understand if you are on the right track (or wrong)

  • Get into the customer’s shoes and fish for insights relentlessly

Cast a wider net and source ideas for better brand experiences

A brand community where ideas are shared day in and day out can double up as an innovation hub for that brand. By creating a space where an audience of any demographic can collaborate and exchange ideas and suggestions, you’ll uncover a goldmine of insights. This can drive product innovations and shed light on the gaps and shortcomings in existing products.

Understand if you are on the right track (or wrong)

Today’s empowered customers are vocal about their choices. They don’t shy away from sharing their bad experiences, and some of them even go as far as slamming brands on social media if their expectations aren’t met. And if you offer your customers a platform to vent as well as gush about your brand, you not only get their honest feedback but also get an opportunity to make things right.

Take Paramount Pictures and their recent revamp and re-do of their live-action film adaptation of the iconic “Sonic the Hedgehog” video game. After Paramount dropped a teaser poster of the film on the movie’s official X, formerly Twitter handle, fans were quick to point out that the likeness of the animated character with the original video game character wasn’t satisfactory.

When Paramount launched a teaser trailer of the film at the Las Vegas CinemaCon, they were bombarded with another flurry of disappointed tweets and disapproving comments from fans and former game designers who worked on the eponymous game.

Paramount went back to the drawing board, completely redesigning the Sonic character, pushing the film’s release date to the following year and even releasing this statement from the film’s director Jeff Fowler.


Thanks to their brand community, Paramount was able to retain customer loyalty, build a more trusting relationship with their audience and ultimately create a better end product. Even though the redesign may have cost them a significant amount of money and time, the new "Sonic the Hedgehog" film grossed over $300 million worldwide.

Get into the customer’s shoes and fish for insights

With so many platforms and options for customers to share their feedback — sometimes, really important messages can get lost in the clutter.

But one thing is clear: gathering insights directly from customers ensures a brand never strays too far from a customer's evolving needs. And what better way to collect customer insights than by hearing firsthand what customers are sharing and talking about with each other, no matter where they are?

When customers feel like they're part of something bigger, they'll be more invested in your brand and more likely to recommend you to their friends and family.

A brand community gives you access to all that: raw and unfiltered conversations and actionable insights, which can inform your product strategy, helping your brand make customer-friendly business decisions that benefit both you and your customers in the long run.

Three brand communities that exist to serve the people in it

Brands that have invested in setting up a thriving community have reaped rich rewards in the form of increased customer loyalty. Let’s see how some of these brands are slaying the community game and what you can learn from them.

Sephora utilizes the Law of Conformity to forge a sense of belonging

This beauty giant is always ahead of the game when it comes to creating a thriving community of loyal customers. If you're a beauty enthusiast, chances are you're already familiar with Sephora’s Beauty Insider program. But did you know that this program is responsible for more than 50% of Sephora's sales? Yes, you read that right. 50%!

So, what's their secret? Well, Sephora has done a fantastic job of tapping into the power of the Law of Conformity. By creating a sense of belonging, they've managed to turn their customers into die-hard brand advocates. And who doesn't want to be a part of an exclusive group, right?

What made the Beauty Insider Program so beautiful

  • Key to Sephora's success is their tier system. It's a great way to create a sense of friendly competition among members. As you climb up the ladder, you unlock unique rewards and privileges, making it an exciting way to challenge yourself and feel accomplished in your beauty journey.

  • Sephora has access to high-end brands, and they use this to offer unique privileges to Beauty Insider members. For example, customers can enjoy one-on-one sessions with industry leaders and free entry to masterclasses conducted by renowned makeup artists from around the world. Who wouldn't want jump at that opportunity?

  • Being a Sephora Beauty Insider member is also an aspirational goal for budding makeup enthusiasts. Shoppers can access top-of-the-line products and feel part of an exclusive community. It's a great way to connect with like-minded individuals and learn more about the latest beauty trends and techniques

Learn more about Sephora's Beauty Insider program

Apple’s collaborative space brings peers and experts together

Apple has always been a pioneer in the consumer tech space, and over time, this brand has become synonymous with quality, creativity, innovation and customer service. Whether you’re a casual user whose iPhone is acting up or a tech enthusiast who wants to get to know their Apple gadget inside out, the Apple support community has got a ton of troubleshooting tips and hacks. From sharing reviews about Apple products to bringing the latest scoop on new launches, passionate Apple fans have created a robust knowledge base that has something for every Apple fan.

But what's in it for Apple, you ask? Well, for starters, the platform has improved customer satisfaction and reduced the number of support requests that Apple receives so the brand can focus on other areas of its business, such as product development and innovation. Wait, there’s more!

Four key reasons why the support community is such a success

  • The community has helped to foster a sense of community among Apple users, building brand loyalty and reinforcing Apple's reputation as a customer-centric company

  • It is free to access and use, making it a cost-effective and convenient solution for Apple users who need help and support

  • The platform lets users provide feedback and suggestions to Apple, shaping the future of Apple products and services

  • The community is available in multiple languages, ensuring that Apple users worldwide can access help and support

Glossier’s influencer marketing turned one of its products into a cult favorite

Influencer marketing has turned out to be a powerful tool for building brand communities, and Glossier capitalized on this trend by partnering with beauty influencers to promote its products, including the popular Milky Jelly Cleanser.

Here’s how Glossier sparked influencers to fire up a community

  • Influencers started sharing their personal experiences with their followers, sparking a wildfire of interest and encouraging more people to join the Glossier community.

  • As a result, the brand saw a surge in social media engagement and its online community grew rapidly. But the cosmetics giant didn't stop there.

  • Glossier continued to connect with its loyal fan community through clever hashtag marketing — #glossierpink — and by regularly sharing user-generated content on their social media platforms.

  • This approach finally helped Glossier transform into a thriving community of beauty enthusiasts, all united by their mutual love for Glossier’s products.

Learn more about Glossier community.

Here’s how you can build a community of believers

Think of building a community like creating your kitchen garden. You have to be patient and nurturing, just like you would with a delicate seedling. And when that first little sprout pops up, it's like winning the jackpot! Building a community of people who love you takes time and effort. You have to keep tending to it while making sure your close-knit community has everything it needs to thrive.

Here’s a quick six-step guide to kick-start your brand community.

  • Step 1: Find your community’s true north

  • Step 2: Get to the perfect home where your community can grow in ways you never thought possible

  • Step 3: Provide a welcoming and supportive environment

  • Step 4: Encourage participation and create a culture of open communication

  • Step 5: Offer real value and be invested in your community’s journey and well-being

  • Step 6: Stay consistent and create content that connects

Step 1: Find your community’s true north

Before you start building your online brand community, it's important to define its purpose. What goals are you looking to accomplish? Which segment of your customers are you trying to target? What topics will your community focus on? By answering these questions, you can create a clear mission statement to steer your community's growth and development.

Step 2: Get to the perfect home where your community can grow in ways you never thought possible

There is a myriad of platforms available for creating a community today, but no two platforms are the same. Whether you're looking for a forum-style community or a social network-style community, it's crucial to choose the right platform that will best suit your community's needs and help it grow.

Step 3: Provide a welcoming and supportive environment

When people join your community, it's crucial to make them feel welcomed, heard and supported. By introducing your brand, providing clear behavior and etiquette guidelines, and encouraging members to share their opinions, you can create a positive atmosphere that fosters a strong sense of community.

Step 4: Encourage participation and create a culture of open communication

To keep your community engaged, it's essential to encourage and facilitate participation from every member. Ask questions, initiate conversations and provide opportunities for members to express their thoughts and opinions openly. By creating a space where everyone feels valued and heard, you can keep your community members actively engaged and invested in your brand.

Step 5: Offer real value and be invested in your community’s journey and well-being

By investing in valuable resources, gathering expert advice and inviting influencers to share tips, you offer your community members tremendous value, which will keep them coming back for more. Additionally, you can partner with influencers to host webinars or offer other useful resources from time to time to keep your community engaged and informed.

Step 6: Stay consistent and create content that connects

Consistency is essential to building a thriving community. By posting regularly and engaging with your community members on a regular basis, you demonstrate your commitment to your community and show that you value their presence. Again, it's not just about posting consistently- it's about creating content and engaging with your members in a way that feels authentic. Whether it's through social media updates, blog posts, or community events, make sure you're creating content that speaks to their interests and resonates with their needs.

Crafting timeless connections with love and perseverance

Building a brand community is not a cakewalk – it requires effort, commitment, and perseverance. It's about creating a space where people can connect with each other and with your brand, forging ties that stand the test of time and ultimately drive growth and success. So don't just think of community as another line item in your ROI. Instead, think of it as something that you are passionate about, something that you want to see thrive.

When you build a community with love, you'll definitely see benefits in the form of loyal customers who celebrate you and come to your rescue, just like Harley Davidson’s HOG.

So, what are you waiting for? Let's get started with community building!

Learn more about building and managing brand communities with Sprinklr’s online community software.

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