Before the internet, brands relied on traditional forms of advertising like billboards, TV and radio adverts to form relationships with their consumers. However, in this digital age, brands have found a more personal way to engage with their customers through the creation of online communities.
Whilst they still advertise to the masses, some brands have gone the extra mile to build digital communities catered to their core audiences. These brands are staying ahead of the curve with the creation of bespoke platforms that allow them to rapidly share insights and tailored content with their most dedicated followers. By showcasing their personality and values in this way, consumers feel less like they are engaging with a brand and more like a member of an exclusive gang.
Lush, Lego and WeTransfer are great examples of brands who have developed active digital communities over the past few years. Read on to check out their communities and why we think they are successful...
At the mere mention of Lush, your nose is practically infiltrated by the memory of that signature scent that pulls you inside the shop. No matter which store you visit, in every town or city, the famous Lush smell is distinctive and often identifiable metres away from the actual store. Thus, that strong, sweet scent unites all Lush shoppers through a shared customer experience. As Lush adhere to a “no advertising spend” policy, they do not promote themselves through the usual channels of TV campaigns or celebrity endorsements, so a positive customer experience on the highstreet was essential in boosting footfall and sales when Lush began.
As if the moreish waft of bath bombs and beautifully crafted products aren’t enough to keep the customers flooding in, Lush do a really good job of organically spreading their message, championing the fight against global issues online as well as in store. This resonates with the rising ethically and environmentally-conscious in society and encourages them to engage with both the brand and one another in the digital community that has been created by Lush.
So where can you find this community? Lush have created the Lush Labs App, which houses their latest digital innovations waiting to be tried and tested by their followers and customers. Lush’s research and development team are coming up with creative digital solutions through the Lush Labs App to solve environmental issues such as cutting down packaging, signage and water use in store. Whilst they are thinking about saving the planet, they have also developed some fun product-related games like the AR bath bomb hunt. Think Pokémon GO, but you’re hunting for a giant bath bomb. So it is an inclusive app that can be downloaded by anyone who owns an iPhone or Android and they welcome feedback on all their ideas. The proactive creation of the Lush Labs App for the community not only enhances their dedication to their mission as a company, but makes those in the community feel truly valued.
There is, however, a more exclusive side to Lush Labs - to gain access to the desktop platform and exclusive emails, you require an invitation (which can be given to you by family or friends who are already a member, or you can apply for it online). Once you have the key to the Lush palace in the form of an invitation, you have access to specially curated content - be it in the form of a blog post or email asking for you to vote for your favourite Lush sent. After smuggly voting for our favourite scents as chosen Lush customers, we realised the importance of the community Lush have created in Lush Labs.
Whether it’s the joy of opening a LEGO castle set on Christmas morning, the horrifying moment when you step on a rogue brick or finding that one piece that went missing down the side of the couch, LEGO brings back childhood memories for many of us. LEGO has attracted the masses since the 1930’s and has an established customer base spanning generations. With these beloved bricks becoming staple toys in households worldwide, LEGO has accumulated a global community of keen followers. As we are now in an age where communities like these can easily communicate online, LEGO decided to create a crowdsourcing platform called LEGO Ideas, enabling fans to interact with the brand and each other.
LEGO Ideas allows fans to upload their ideas for LEGO’s next product to the platform to then be judged and voted on by fellow community members. Any idea submissions with 10,000 votes or more are shortlisted and considered for realisation into an official LEGO product. If a submission is successful, the creator works closely with a LEGO designer to produce the final LEGO approved product. Not only does the winning creator have their product idea launched, but they also benefit from 1% of the net sales. In building this platform, LEGO have managed to translate the physical enjoyment of LEGO into a digital space where fans can engage with one another and collaborate with this beloved brand.
Lots of us working in the digital realm are very familiar with the file transfer service, WeTransfer. Idea generation and the creative process are at the core of WeTransfer’s ethos because without inspiration, art cannot be produced and shared. Therefore, in order to cultivate creativity, WeTransfer have developed an online hub specifically for their creative users featuring content specially curated for them: WePresent.
WePresent is home to ‘unexpected stories about creativity’ with articles focused on many artistic disciplines like Illustration, Architecture and Podcasts to name a few. The featured stories range from how spirituality and tech can work together, to how an artist uses an old cereal box as a canvas. Although this curated content may not always relate to the specific field the users are working in, it adds value and really resonates with their core creative audience, inspiring them rather than just selling them the chargeable pro WeTransfer service.
Whether they are exclusive like Lush or more inclusive like LEGO and WeTransfer, online communities develop an immersive, personal experience for users. With collaborative and curated content attracting like-minded individuals, the co-creation and improvement of products and services is encouraged by these digital communities. Ultimately, a meaningful conversation between brands and consumers can continue flowing.