Marketers spend a lot of time thinking about the motivations of the people they’re trying to reach. Identifying motivations of specific consumer types and then targeting them with specific messages, products and opportunities is standard stuff.  

And it’s effective.

If you can get a core problem a consumer cares about and solve it for them, you can get a sale. If you go up a level further and tap into their identity, how they see themselves or how they want to see themselves, you can connect even more strongly with them and build your brand.

However, both of these things still require you to cut through the noise of everything surrounding the modern consumer, whose attention is, as we’ve noted before on this blog, under siege at all times.

A brand-building path with less resistance

You can connect deeply with your consumers by using their most fundamental needs to do the heavy lifting for you. Human beings are born to build communities. It’s a primal need we all share.  No one is exempt from it.

That’s why brand communities can be such vibrant places, even if their ostensible purpose is commercial and not personal. People satisfy their needs in a brand community the same way they would at their bowling league or local pub.

If your brand can create the conditions for community to form, if you can fulfill the primal human needs that community satisfies, your consumers will come, they will stay and they will contribute more than you ask.

And the best part? They’ll feel like they’re getting more value than they’re giving. 

Here are three key human needs you’ll need to satisfy.

1 - Find a shared purpose for your community.

Purpose must be at the core of the community. People show up to do things together. There are plenty of places people can just show up to hang out. But those places are replaceable and your brand community shouldn’t be.

You need a purpose that resonates with your consumers. That can mean talking (about your brand, about shared passions, or about both). That can mean creating (your products or anything else). That can mean changing something in the world (for the better, hopefully). That can mean a mix of all three.

There must be a central organizing focus of your community to differentiate it from the others out there and to give people reason to gather in the first place. Make it strong and compelling for your fans. And they will show up.

But that’s the just start.

2 – Create a place where your people can find their people.

Let's go back to our pub or bowling league analogy. Nobody keeps coming out to those places week after week if the people they’re spending time with aren’t like them. People want to find people who share their ideas, beliefs and passions. There is nothing in any marketing toolkit as powerful as one person looking another in the eye and saying “Oh you love that too? Let’s talk.” Your brand community should facilitate these interactions.

3 – Create a place where people feel valued for who they are and what they do.

People want to be liked and appreciated. You can’t overstate this. It’s an important reason why people gather in communities to begin with. If you build a brand community where consumers can make valuable contributions to your brand, but they don’t feel appreciated or liked by your brand representatives and the other community members around them, they will eventually drift away. This has implications for how you create the ability for your consumers to make social connections in your community and how you nurture the relationships between community members and your brand on an ongoing basis.

All of the above is relatively simple on its face but trickier in execution. That’s why so many brand communities fail.

Get in touch if you’d like our help planning your brand community.