6 Brands That Build Communities to Connect with Customers

Community building is not a quick win. So, why do for-profit brands invest time and money in this activity? Put simply, building a community around your brand gives your customers a sense of belonging. And belonging creates brand loyalty like nothing else.

In the digital age, we’re experiencing a crisis of belonging. Technology has given us more and more ways to connect. And yet many people are lonelier than ever. The connections people make on social media are often superficial. People crave meaningful engagement.

According to, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a sense of belonging is a basic requirement all human’s share. Brands that build strong communities can help people to meet this need. The by product? A deep sense of brand loyalty, commercial opportunities and — for those that really master the art of community building — cult status.

In this blog post, we discuss the creative ways six brands are using community building to connect with their customers.

1. Rapha

Rapha has used community building to create a cult following. Not only does the cycling brand produce high-quality clothing but they truly understand how to connect with their audience.

Rapha shops are more than commercial spaces. Rather, they’re “clubhouses”, serving coffee and cakes to cyclists looking to refuel. Customers can even lock up their bikes inside their shops.

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The Rapha Cycling Club (RCC) invites anyone and everyone to come and ride with them every week. Being part of RCC is more than just being a fan of the brand. It’s a lifestyle.

2. Airbnb

Airbnb is a brand that’s built around belonging. The apartment rental service gives holidaymakers the chance to immerse themselves in the community they’re visiting.

Airbnb’s host community allows Airbnb hosts to connect with others like them globally. This empowers hosts to feel like they’re part of a movement.

Together, Airbnb hosts are encouraged to feel like they are helping to create a world where anyone can belong. Meanwhile, their membership of the platform helps to spur the brand’s rapid growth.

3. Nike

Nike is a brand that’s world famous for inspiring customers to feel like they belong when they exercise. It’s long-running ‘Just do it’ slogan is synonymous with self-belief.

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Nike’s Run Club takes this philosophy one step further. It allows people to connect with fellow runners in their city to run together. This opens a number of commercial opportunities, such as advice about kit to equip runners to optimise their performance.

4. Amazon

Amazon understands the commercial value of community. This is why the eCommerce giant bought Goodreads in 2013.

Goodreads has over 20 million members who add to the site’s growing number of independent book reviews. This data provides a wealth of commercial insight to Amazon, helping the brand boost book sales.

5. GoPro

The GoPro community is hugely popular. So much so, that the camera brand’s marketing strategy is driven by content created by its community.

The community offers a platform for members to share their videos of their adventures. Around 6,000 GoPro tagged videos are uploaded to YouTube every day. This user-generated content is authentic, engaging, and (handily) demonstrates the brand’s product so GoPro doesn’t have to.

6. Harley-Davidson

Like Rapha’s RCC, the Harley Owners Group is about the lifestyle. The world’s largest motorcycle club helps members celebrate their passion with fellow Harley owners around the world.

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Harley-Davidson has understood the commercial value of community for decades. The brand has been building a community since the 1980s, helping to make this motorbike brand so iconic.

Takeaway

Community building is a powerful way to connect with your customers. Being a fan of your brand can be more than mere consumerism. With the right structures in place, it can become a lifestyle.

As a marketing tactic, community building takes effort and creativity. But the potential commercial benefits are huge. Creating a sense of belonging is one of the most effective ways to build brand loyalty and grow a cult following.

We hope this post has inspired you to get creative with the way you connect with customers. Now, ask yourself what sort of community could your brand create. How could you help customers feel like they belong?

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