What triggers a double-tap, a swipe-up, a share via WhatsApp or inputting our personal details into a ‘subscribe here’ box?
We’ve seen it come to life during the past few years of COVID lockdowns: previously unacquainted neighbours chatting through open windows, rallying together out of love for their neighbourhoods. The same camaraderie is found amongst brand fanbases too – the desire to belong, to be understood, to share in a moment. It’s human nature.
Let’s say, for analogy’s sake, that beginning to build a following is like planting a seed. Nurturing that seed becomes like fostering a community. You monitor its growth, you understand its needs. If it’s managed the right way, you’ll be on your way to cult status. Now that’s what really gets us excited.
Putting community at the heart of your brand
In real life terms, nothing says brand cult quite like the lycra-clad lads and ladies sporting their latest Rapha gear like an exclusive uniform. Rapha became a hub for cycling fanatics, a bold campaigner for their voices, lifestyles and stories. Their commercial spaces are ever-so-coolly labelled ‘clubhouses’, capitalising on the social element of cycling with lock-up stations and coffee on tap. Rapha brings its fans to a physical hangout spot, and flaunts its intimate understanding of their habits in the form of thrice-roasted Ethiopian coffee beans. With over 20 clubhouses worldwide, Rapha is a brand with community at its heart.
Forging a community space for your fans shouldn’t feel forced, but it should also go deeper than a chatbot transcript. Whether it’s collaborating friends’ playlists within the Spotify app, or transforming your brand name into a verb (see: ‘I’ll Monzo you’), community should feel like it’s cultivated from within, and led by customer insight. Only then will it stand on its own two feet.