My 88-year-old grandma can’t remember words. She says she wants grilled cheese when she really wants scrambled eggs. She looks at her plate, points, and says “I want the thing that goes on top of this.” My family plays the grandma game of Jeopardy and bets that she wants ketchup on top of her hotdog.
We go to the fridge, pull out Hunts and Heinz because we know she’s picky. Grandma points to Hunts and says “bleh” and sticks out her tongue. She expects the Heinz brand to taste like what she liked when she could actually say “Heinz, please.”
A brand is an expectation of an experience. It’s a preference in a moment of choice. The brand name, its logo, and its packaging are symbols that are valued by its consumers.
Grandma must have been a loyal fan of Heinz throughout her life. If Heinz didn’t have people like my grandma loving their brand, its product could not exist.
A brand needs a community of loyal fans
Nowadays, Grandma isn’t the best brand advocate. She can’t tell her grandkids that Heinz is the best kind of ketchup. She’s far from knowing how to prepare her #dailydish on TikTok and she definitely can’t figure out how to participate in the #ketchupchallenge.
So let’s table the ketchup chat and talk about communities of loyal fans. Taylor has her Swifties who continue to buy her concert tickets and share her songs. Harley Davidson has their Harley Owners Group “H.O.G.” who continue to buy Harleys and ride with their friends.
I run a creative collective called In Creative Co and our members are freelancing creatives who join “The Co” through a quarterly subscription that grants them 1:1 time with us Co-founders, an active Slack workspace, an event lineup, and paid gig opportunities.
Oftentimes, our members feel good about being a part of our collective so they share the content that we’ve created together on their social media. Or they meet an eager freelancer in a networking group and tell them about why they may love being a part of our collective. Our community of loyal fans has obtained us new members who helped us to grow our membership income and influence.
Communities spend money on your brand and they get others to spend money on it too
Taylor, Harley, and In Creative Co wouldn’t be as successful without our Swifties, H.O.G., and “The Co.” Heinz wouldn’t be as successful without the people who wholeheartedly believe it’s the only ketchup that should exist. Should we name their community the Heinz Heads or the Squeezies?
Some communities like mine gather on Slack workspaces. Others are in Discord servers or Facebook groups or they return to your conference every year like clockwork. Some community members may be spread out. They could drop your brand’s name at a networking event, use your product in their TikTok video, or rock your brand’s sticker on their laptop. Show up where you want your community of loyal fans to show up. You lead, they follow.
Communities must be activated
You can host an event series IRL or URL. Events allow people to learn about or share about your brand. They can strengthen the community bond between like-minded individuals. Get inspired by the events I host for my creative collective.
Founders or community managers can activate the community. I’ve found that community members feel more comfortable when the founders are present and leading by example.
Share on social media to engage your following. Collaborate with other brands to offer something new to your community and expand into another community.
Catch up, Ketchup, or Heinz?
The success of your brand is all in the words. If you don’t want to be playing catch up to your competitors or sound generic, it’s time to engage a community of loyal fans who will talk about your brand so that you can organically get known and get ahead. Through word of mouth, these community members will share real consumer success stories.
More and more generations are relying on friends and digital sources to learn then buy, rather than former traditional information channels. The time is now to speak your brand into a greater existence.
If you need help creating or fostering a community of loyal fans by communicating a consistent multi-platform message, keep reading…
Brand Management Studio
In Creative Co is focused on building brand communities around sustainable building design. We work with Architecture Firms, Engineering Firms, Interior Design Studios, Real Estate Developers, Sustainability Advisors, and Urban Design Firms who are doing important work for the planet at the intersection of the built and natural environments. We help them create more impact and amplify their reach while supporting their sustainability initiatives.
Our work is powered by our creative collective who has a shared passion for taking climate action now. If you are a creative freelancer who shares this passion, apply now to join “The Co” for community support and paid gig opportunities.
If you work with green buildings, hire In Creative Co to manage your brand. If you work outside of our niche, we can help refer you directly to a member of our creative collective.
Yelle is a professional weirdo dressed in work quirk. Creative to her core, she runs a brand management studio and a collective of over 50 creative freelancers. While she is not working to amplify the climate conversation, she is in class at NYC's School of Visual Arts "SVA" getting her Masters in Branding.
You can invite Yelle to be featured on your IG Live, podcast, or panel. Feel her vibe on IG and feel free to DM her to engage.