Brand engagement is a requirement of modern life. For some fortunate brands, consumers come to them not just out of necessity, but enthusiastic fandom.
Most strategists help brands understand their consumers — which makes sense, as knowing your audience is a crucial piece of the branding puzzle. However, they often miss the bigger foundational tool of brand development; that is, understanding fandom itself.
Why does that matter? Because fandom significantly ramps up customer loyalty and retention.
While sports and movie franchises might dominate the fandom conversation, in reality, every brand can create a fan base that operates as an active community with a common identity. In fact, if the proper foundation is laid, fandom can foster customer retention and uncover new and untapped opportunities for growth for any brand.
Of course, there’s a lot at stake when it comes to fandom. It’s the difference between a brand with “as needed” appeal versus a brand that infiltrates the cultural psyche and conversation.
Ensure your brand doesn’t become an afterthought. Here are the 5 secrets Material has learned for creating successful, enduring fandom for any brand:
1. Create memorable experiences for a like-minded community
Community matters and brands are no exception; but brand communities rarely happen autonomously. They require nurturing and mindfulness on the part of the brand.
Signal to your consumers that you are a welcoming space for their creativity and want to foster lasting connections and memorable experiences. Actively creating a space for community to develop and thrive will energize consumers and facilitate bonding within that community, further deepening ties.
Communities are multi-faceted, so establish multiple touchpoints for engagement, including both sponsored entities and fan-created elements. Retail products and fan art alike each play a crucial role in the success of a brand’s rise to fandom.
2. Tap into passions and emotional connectional while serving a need
Too often brands lean into either consumers’ necessities or passions. In reality, consumers are driven equally by both.
Yes, your customers may need to fill a functional need, but that necessity can also satisfy their passion. Choose to be both to solidify your fan base and increase customer loyalty and retention.
Some of these passions and emotional connections are not social, but may be deeply personal and individualistic for your customers. These individual drivers can inspire unanticipated contributions and expressions from fans, which can lead to valuable insights and new creative inspiration for future brand decisions.
3. Ramp up desirability
Building brand anticipation is at the core of fandom development. Limited runs, strategic drops, and collectability all delight consumers as they seek to signal their exclusive knowledge and involvement with the brand.
Whether you’re a sneaker company or a snack food brand, creating a buzz around your product releases and marketing campaigns will trigger excitement in the brains of consumers — and excitement translates into brand loyalty.
4. Create a reciprocal conversation
The most enduring brands don’t do all the work themselves; rather, they allow consumers to be part of the story and catalysts for sharing that narrative. The minute it becomes a one-directional conversation, consumers cease to feel connected to the brand experience.
Co-creation gives consumers a voice in the constantly evolving identity of a brand, which benefits both the consumer and the brand.
This strategic eCommerce customer relationship management is a mutual investment that animates and amplifies the message, while creating an unmistakable stamp of authenticity — something consumers recognize and desire.
5. Become a destination
Every brand wants to be relevant, but few succeed in becoming a cultural phenomenon.
Repositioning your brand as a destination opens the door to that type of sweeping dominance, not to mention increasing customer loyalty and retention.
- What will make consumers seek you out?
- What will keep them there once they arrive?
- What will make them bring their friends along with them?
The destination might look different over time, but the feeling consumers get when they arrive — of being part of something inclusive yet elite, special yet accessible — should remain the same.