3 Types of Community

Emmy + Naomi
Jun 26, 2018 · 3 min read

As we explore redefining communities, we have found three types of communities presenting themselves regularly. It is helpful at this point to define those types of communities, and the differences we perceive between them as we move to truly redefine what community means. These types are distinct, yet they will naturally overlap in context and approach because at their core, they are driven by the humans who inhabit them. As you learn more about the three types of communities, think to your own life and identify the various communities you currently belong to or communities you are aware of and how they fit into these three definitions.

Activist Community

Activist communities stand out for the action that they take. They are usually founded around a cause, such as the #metoo movement, Moms Demand Action or Black Lives Matter. Globally, activist communities like the Women’s March or Save the Children also unify its members with a shared sense of purpose and identity. Early stages of activist communities can be exciting and ambitious to watch as they blast into public awareness in a significant way to create the impact they desire.

Brand Community

CMX led by David Spinks has done excellent work in the field of brand community and their definition stands solid:

“A brand community is a community with a specific business objective lead by an executive sponsor, where a company creates a space for people with a common sense of identity to participate in ongoing, shared experiences.”

More on this can be found on What is Brand Community? by Carrie Melissa Jones

Impact Community

We both feel most at home in impact communities we have built, a term we developed to explain how they differ from brand or activist communities. Impact communities sit lower in the public conscious than the others. They are often a source of quiet power rather than being loud and attention drawing. Impact communities are the ones which we are most familiar with in our day to day lives but also the ones which we have rarely paid much attention to. They are parent teacher associations, our neighbourhood watch, and churches. They are support groups, book clubs and our online groups. They are a constant and consistent presence providing us with a much needed sense of belonging, and sometimes they only exist to gather people together. When asked about the communities you belong to, impact communities are often the first on the list but in some ways the ones which are valued the least because we assume they will always be there.

As we continue to define leadership and community, it’s important to keep sight of the origin stories of the communities we belong to, or find ourselves in leadership of. Identifying which of these types your community fits into, helps move the needle forward and makes it easier to access support as you grow your impact, fine tune your services or offerings, and create traction.

Keep the conversation going…

We want our Conversations on Community to be part of a broader conversation with you, our readers as we redefine what community means both online and offline. We would like to ask you,

“What type of community are you building?”

Let us know your thoughts in the discussion below.

Meet Emmy and Naomi

Emmy McCarthy and Naomi Hattaway often like to joke that they are one brain split over two continents. After “meeting” on a podcast about community building they quickly realised that not enough people who actually steward thriving communities were talking about how they build and grow communities. They also realised how much they had to say about that.

Emmy and Naomi believe that every individual is capable of making an impact on society but they often lack the support and information on how to do so.

Through #RedefiningCommunities Emmy and Naomi hope to open up the conversation on the communities we are building, gather together the people creating impact through action and provide a space for learning and growing together.

Find out more about Emmy and Naomi.

Redefining Communities

Conversations about leadership and the evolution of community in the digital age.

Emmy + Naomi

Written by


Redefining Communities

Conversations about leadership and the evolution of community in the digital age.

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