Digital branding and brand community: a formula to reconnect with your customers
In today’s scenario in which the vast majority of citizens, customers, are addressing all the attention in protecting their health and economy, branding has a crucial role to help companies, startups, governments, institutions, and public personalities to reconnect with their audiences.
Brands and branding are about building trust. In today’s COVID-19 scenario, with an unpredictable economy as a result of the impact of COVID-19 in society and people’s lives, building brand trust and re-engage with customers is one of the biggest challenge for any business.
Before COVID-19, around mid-March 2020 and before the first official lockdown in Europe, branding was in many business about adding value to the business engaging audiences with stories and messages around the latest innovation such as: the new collection, new brand ambassador, new technological features with AI… It was all about the latest thing. Now the major role of branding is reconnecting with your customers because your customers are not the same.
In COVID-19 time, it is like you wake up one day and you have to re-start your business… All the sectors, industries will be different from pre-COVID-19 times.
So now it is time to re-think your business strategy and your branding. Sir John Hegarty said, “First build a brand, then a business”. Due to today’s urgency to go back to reactivate the economy, we have to say: “Build your business and your brand at the same time… don’t wait, just do it”
Difficult yes, but absolutely achievable.
How to rebuild your brand and make business at the same time?
They are 3 major steps you should take to rebuild your brand and business:
1. First: think digital, think about your customer. It is more than ever about focusing all your efforts on creating first a digital business and its digital branding.
From now, we are all spending our time, our money, making business, socializing in a mixed reality, also called phydigital (we spend our life is in a physical and digital world)
Think about how your customers are living now. COVID-19 has permanently shifted consumer behavior. We are observing new consumer behaviors such as:
- Spending tones of time watching a screen. Ask yourself in which screen or screens are your customers spending their time? It is not TV, not for sure traditional TV, and for sure we are all consuming from a screen digital content, connected to the World Wide Web.
- We move in the cities using our own vehicle and we are embracing micro-mobility.
- Changing also our habits of eating, getting dress, learning, getting married, working… Yes, COVID-19 had changed all these habits and more.
- New entertainment. In the “past” we used to go to discos or to a football match, what are we doing now? Tik Tok? Tinder?
Ask yourself and research how your customers spend their time. This is the key to rebuild your business and branding to reconnect with your customers.
2. Second: do it with a methodology to get focus and get things done as soon as possible: it is time to get back to business.
You have to rebuild your brand using methodologies such as Design thinking but in a LEAN way. And your digital branding also needs to have a lean branding methodology. Laura Busche, author of “Lean branding”, describes it as a process of building chameleon brands. There's no use in standing still in the marketplace when consumers' ideas of who they are/want/need are changing all over the place. Brands today are much better off listening to these changes and learning from them. Evolving.
3. Third: Brand community. Build a community, using new narratives for a strong digital brand that connects with today’s new audiences. “Brands must see themselves as communities” Imran Amed, CEO, and founder of The Business of Fashion, BOF.
According to Wikipedia: a brand community is a community formed on the basis of attachment to a product or marque. (…) Among the concepts developed to explain the behavior of consumers, the concept of a brand community focuses on the connections between consumers. A brand community can be defined as an enduring self-selected group of actors sharing a system of values, standards and representations (a culture) and recognizing bonds of membership with each other and with the whole. Brand communities are characterized in shared consciousness, rituals and traditions, and a sense of moral responsibility. When consumers arrive at a brand they form a brand community.
Albert Muniz Jr. and Thomas C. O’Quinn first presented the term “brand community” in a 1995 paper for the Association for Consumer Research Annual Conference in Minneapolis, MN. In a 2001 article titled " Brand Community", published in the Journal of Consumer Research (SSCI), they defined the concept as "a specialized, non-geographically bound community, based on a structured set of social relations among admirers of a brand." This 2001 paper recently has been acknowledged by Thomson Scientific & Healthcare to be one of the most cited papers in the field of economics and business.
Today’s social media facilitates the complex activity of building the so necessary brand community. Re-think your today’s social media strategy towards this major goal: create a brand community first, the business will follow.
Dra. Gemma Vallet
One of the pioneers in digital branding, her thesis of digital branding was first in this topic in Europe.
Program director and lead professor of digital strategy at Brand Community Management Program Postgraduate Course. Master in Social Media Branding and Digital Strategy. Both pioneers programs in Europe, 3 times mentioned among best program in its area by Edurank.
Also Gemma Vallet is business partner of sustainable brands, operating as a CMO and global digital branding expert in eCommerce.