A community of consumers loyal to your brand should be a goal for every business. Cultivating a community will unlock numerous advantages and opportunities. Big brand names such as LEGO have had their luck turn from the verge of bankruptcy to the largest toy manufacturer in the world through community building.

When a company includes its customers, it’s likely to experience better engagement and growth in sales. I believe every business should have a clear community strategy at the start of its journey, and it should be in the fibres of everything they do.

Circling back on LEGO, you might be wondering how they managed to turn their end into a new beginning by simply focusing on community. It is both simple and genius. LEGO upended its approach to the innovation process. Whilst previously being a closed process, LEGO approached innovation through the community by inviting their fans into the action. By doing so, they reestablished themselves in the market by launching the LEGO Ideas Platform. LEGO is an example of how the willingness to trust your customers could work in your business’s favour and elevate your brand. LEGO’s move has resulted in a community growth of over a million users and the production of twenty-eight sets.

We see this utilised again by TED, demonstrating community collaboration. TED introduced TEDx in 2009, run by volunteers independent in its organisation of TED-style conferences in cities all across the globe. TED amplified the community by opening up access, recognising that catering only to a specific audience limited their reach. TEDx has seen over 30,000 events by empowering external communities in the past 10 years.

Essentially, community-building is an ongoing practice of prioritising and trusting your customers. By bringing them into the process, your company might be enlightened to ways they already contribute that you may not have recognised prior.

Twitch is an excellent example of community building as a long-term collaboration rather than a short-term stint. Their “ambassador” program supports and champions streamers who can speak to product and data teams. In doing so, Twitch ensures product ideas are always run by community members first. Twitch recognised the passionate nature of its users and employed it to quadruple its platform users to one million by making sure they were involved. In turn, Twitch members advocate on behalf of the brand itself.

Ultimately, communities are about inclusivity and valuing consumers.

Salesforce is an impressive example of how to do this well. Aside from its software innovation, Salesforce created a community that organises events, produces content, and champions each other whilst also contributing to the company’s global operations. Salesforce ensures this is sustained consistently by setting up annual conferences known as “Dreamforce”. Through this alone, Salesforce attracts nearly 200,000 partisans every year.

Not only do big brands benefit from community building, but a small brand is likely to accelerate its growth by also focusing on community. Brands can start small; identifying the who before the what will make the process smoother. Understanding who makes up your community means you’ll be able to cater for and grow your community.

Once you have established the who, you can cultivate a concise brand position to stand out. Researching your consumers allows you to produce the most suitable and valuable community bank of benefits. For example, facilitating a space for discussions, mentoring and leadership, useful content, engaging videos, and more. Sharing your efforts and user-generated content on social channels will help widen the scope of community and community participation. Driving organic engagement will help leverage a more sustainable foundation for a brand’s community.

All in all, brand communities require dedication as much as they do enthusiasm. Brand owners need to recognise that it is not about what they may gain at the forefront; it is about community growth and elevation. At GRAFTISM, we doubled down on community building. Wanting to ensure our members have a great place to lift but also build relationships, champion each other’s goals and feel secure and supported by others and our team. By doing this, we succeeded in giving the community a space they can call their own, and in turn, they proudly represent GRAFTISM in person and online.

When done well, brands certainly reap the many benefits and experience the growth of community building. The willingness to listen, have patience and adapt are essential.