Think Differently While Building Your Brand’s Community
Stop focusing on being fashionable, and start concentrating on sustainable growth.
When building your brand, you mentally grow with it in parallel. You begin identifying with your brand on a personal level, and it’s incredible.
Building a brand, personal or business, is always an exciting experience. Stressful and intensive but exciting. I mean come one, it’s your vision, your dream, and your road to making an impact in the world.
An exceptional aspect of constructing your brand from the ground up is your autonomy in the process.
Don’t like something? Change it. No one is going to stop you.
But what happens when other people begin also identify with your brand? What happens when you start pulling in invested stakeholders, a dedicated email list, clients, employees, all looking to get something out what you offer?
Well first off, take a moment, and pat yourself on the back. If this is on your list of concerns, it means you’re growing in a truly successful way. Secondly, buckle up, because you are no longer the only person involved in your brand anymore, and it is going to be a bumpy ride.
If you ignore your stakeholders and play ignorance to their needs, your brand is going to fail. I see this failure consistently, people get full of themselves, forgetting what or who made them a success in the first place.
Disregarding the people that paved the way for your brand’s success is like removing the foundation of a house. You can’t expect the house to remain structurally sound, and you can’t expect a brand to continue its success.
One year ago, I joined a performance theatre start-up with a growing brand and an involved community. Between evening beers and weekly meetings, this is what I learned.
Drop your idea of having a slick exclusive brand.
We all have that friend. The entrepreneur type who wants to start the next Uber, but you know, more chill. He has a sexy minimalist logo idea and motivation to be regarded as the tech genius of his generation.
This friend is exhausting, and they are commonplace in the entrepreneurial workspace.
For a while, this friend was me. One thing I wanted to push when working with the theatre startup was elite branding to create a community of my demographic. A demographic made up of university students, upcoming influencers, and like-minded creatives.
I wanted us to have the slickest, cleanest, quality brand out there. Imagine an “elite singles” dating app but, not an idea that makes your eyes roll.
I soon discovered my branding mentality was short-sighted. For one, university students don’t have any money, so marketing to them was based solely on my desire to be popular in my own demographic. But more significantly, this idea had to alienate a lot of people with its implementation.
Glossy and fashionable branding is intimidating, and a lot of people won’t join a community if they think it might involve any level of rejection.
People want to feel accepted with a brand’s community like they are a part of something and wanted.
Never take a branding strategy that’s only appealing to yourself. It’s tempting, but it comes off as amateur and again, short-sighted. Brand yourself for accessibility with the willingness to grow.
Accessibility allows your community to foster; elitist marketing does not.
Design your community growth around sustainability.
So we have talked about creating brand accessibility, and with this, hopefully, your brand will grow.
This success means there will suddenly be a lot more people to satisfy.
When we were little we were taught more is always better. More money, more stuff, more friends. More everything.
A defining brand success metric we comparatively analyze is the community and following we have.
This metric leads us to pursue this growth without really thinking about the consequences until it’s too late. The biggest thing to understand when growing your community is that it comes with drawbacks.
Think about your average community member. Why are they part of your community? Is it your brand is personable? Is it they like everyone else in the community? Put yourself in their shoes for a moment and think about what draws them to your brand.
Now imagine your brand doubles in popularity, do your current community members still have all of their needs satisfied when they joined? Probably not.
With your growth, you will inevitably change aspects of your brand to handle that growth. Not to mention, brands just consistently evolve, and this change ripples into your community.
So how do you handle these expectations? The best advice I have for you is to manage changes with transparency and don’t act surprised if people challenge your brand’s evolution.
Treat your community with the respect of genuine clarity when you grow. Don’t spin narratives, don’t pretend everything is staying the same, just be honest and upfront, and listen to feedback.
Growth is inevitable, and change is going to come along with that growth. Be honest and roll with the punches. This will grow trust, which is the most critical aspect of a sustainable community.
Ignore the metrics and focus on passion.
It’s incredibly tempting to measure your success by all the traditional metrics. At first, it’s harmless, keeping up with success parameters and trying to sustain them.
Slowly you begin to lose the motivation behind your passion and only focus on these metrics. Your decisions become solely based on how to improve them, and they influence your brand in significant ways.
I have shocking news for you, your community doesn’t give a damn about your metrics. Your community is your community because of the content your passion produces, not because it gets a lot of views.
Sure your brand will become more visible with higher goals being met, but your base community didn’t care about those in the first place. Once anyone buys into your brand, they won’t care about them either.
Your popularity gets your foot in the door, but your passion is why people stay.
The long nights, the thankless hours, the constant stress of planning, it can’t be fueled by metrics, it just can’t. It’s your passion that provides that fuel, nothing else.
As long as the inspiration behind your brand is recognized, you will never lose faith, and neither will your community. Build for accessibility, manage expectations with growth, and hold onto that passion. You’re doing this for a reason, and your community knows that.