William Joseph Communications

The Power of Brand Communities

Brand Communities are a fascinating topic in marketing; they are uniquely located at the intersection of branding, consumer behaviour, and sociology. Communities, as a topic of social human experience, have been studied in philosophy and sociology for quite some time, and marketing has utilized these ideas and adapted them to understand the concept of community in a consumption context.

As first introduced by Muniz and O’Guinn in “Brand Community”, Journal of Consumer Research,  “A brand community is a specialized, non-geographically bound community, based on a structured set of social relationships among admirers of a brand”. This unique phenomenon has consumers participate in shared rituals and traditions, hold similar values, and together form collective consciousness all focused on the common admiration of a brand. Members of these communities have well-developed understandings and feeling towards the brands they are connected to. These communities are social in nature, and reflect how embedded our favourite brands are in our daily lives.

Important Aspects of Brand Communities

The shared consciousness or “we-ness” of these communities is a very important and powerful aspect of these communities. Members of these communities feel a deep connection, not only to the focal brand, but also to other members, who they feel they understand on a deeper-level even if they have never met in person. Harley-Davidson owner groups, both officially organized and not, are a great example of this. Although there are many different groups that experience Harley in there own unique way, there are common values that all groups share. One distinct value that is shared by this group is Personal Freedom. Most Harley owners identify with this idea of liberation through their bikes.  When talking about the freedom of riding, and the freedom to customize your bike to experience your own unique ride, our own Creative Director can verify, “you all belong to Harley, but you all do Harley differently”.

Interestingly, brand communities often define their identity by why they do NOT consume as well. For many Samsung Galaxy owners, they partly define their identity by NOT owning an iPhone. Or for many Mac users and fan groups, they partly define their identity by NOT owning a PC.

Rituals and traditions are also important aspects of these communities, as members often spread meaning through shared practices. Almost all brand communities have little examples of rituals that they share, which adds to the meaning of the brand. For example, many vehicle owners have heard of a specific wave to give the owner of the same brand. The “Jeep wave” and the “Audi wave” that owners give to each other on the road are just two examples of this. Little traditions like these add to the experience that one has when being involved with a brand, and adds to the experience that members have when interacting with each other.

For many years, marketers have harnessed the power of brand communities by organizing events like “brandfests” that gather admirers of a brand together. These events facilitate social relationships and traditions, all while focusing on a brand. Camp Jeep and Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.) events are two great examples of companies mobilizing their own communities around their beloved brands. But, brand communities don’t need to be organized exclusively by the parent organizations. There are many examples of fan groups for brands that organize themselves and develop their own consciousness surrounding their favourite brands.  Remember Pokémon Go? Many of these loyal users still organize their own events to celebrate and play the game together.

With advances in communications technology and social media, brand communities now live and thrive online. People from all over the world organize themselves based on their admiration of a product, service, idea, or brand and create rituals, have shared values, and experience the brand together. A quick search on Reddit will reveal many different subreddits organized by brands, experiences, ideas, products, and services. Each of these communities has their own unique rituals, values, and understandings that are shared by members. These communities across the Internet can be huge sources of un-tapped value for organizations to directly access their fans and understand how they use and experience their favourite brands.

Benefits of Brand Communities

Brand communities have many sources of value for organizations. As highlighted by McAlexander, Schouten, and Koenig in “Building Brand Community”, Journal of Marketing, this value can manifest in many ways for organizations:

In addition to all of these benefits, Brand Communities can also be a source of competitive advantage, and can protect organizations from the constant challenge of pushing the boundaries of innovation. It can be exhausting for organizations to constantly run towards a finish line that is continuously being moved farther and farther away. With that in mind, McAlexander, Schouten, and Koenig (2002) identify an interesting opportunity for brands to create advantages by differentiating themselves from competitors. They further explain, “differentiating on the basis of ownership experience can be achieved through programs strategically designed to enhance customer-centered relationships”.

Building and cultivating customer-centered relationships through tactics like Brand Communities can be an extremely effective way to construct deeper emotional relationships between your customers and your brand. If your customers are fans of your brand, it can be extremely beneficial for you to develop a platform where consumers can share their experiences and connect with your brand on a deeper level. This can be a key point of value for your customers, and set you apart from competing brands.

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Friday, February 15th, 2019 at 11:05am
The latest edition to the WJ art collection is very special! Did you know Freddie had a diploma in graphic design and created multiple album covers and the now famous Queen crest? As an agency with a strong design foundation, we're honoured to be in such company. #FreddieMercury https://t.co/tU6sG0Jgrv wj_agency photo
Wednesday, February 13th, 2019 at 9:01am
#GrandePrairie - we have a Valentine's Day surprise for you! Our CEO Ryan is hosting a Ryan's Roundup in your city tonight! Come meet pros from all industries for a night of networking fun! Sign up! https://t.co/OlzaLDQ9TW
Thursday, February 7th, 2019 at 11:16am
Team lunch for our Client Services and Operations teams yesterday was long overdue! #wjculture https://t.co/tWBjaN3ZzT wj_agency photo
Wednesday, February 6th, 2019 at 2:57pm
Who watched the big game on Sunday?! One thing that got us thinking - is the $5 mill price tag for a 30-second ad spot worth it? Check out our blog to find out: https://t.co/pBp4skLPKn #SuperBowl2019
Tuesday, February 5th, 2019 at 2:51pm
It's the first Thursday of the month, you know what time it is: Join us for a night of fun and meet some of #YYC's biggest movers and shakers at Ryan's Roundup! 4:30-7PM at #Ranchmans, sign up! https://t.co/oWXmD1nxsN https://t.co/ohxRKdj2Fn wj_agency photo


William Joseph Communications

We are the difference between momentary achievement and enduring success.Your success requires an agency that offers a fully integrated solution. One that has the vision to see beyond your current borders and the troops to guide you there. With us as your allies, be confident that you can achieve your boldest ambitions. At William Joseph we offer complete marketing solutions composed of strategies, tactics, and designs that effectively tell your story and address your unique marketing goals. Everything from advertising campaigns to experiential design, our team takes your corporate identity and translates it through a wide array of mediums to successfully champion your company.
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William Joseph CommunicationsFriday, February 15th, 2019 at 4:23pm
We love TWT Group Inc. and wanted to show them just how much on Valentine's Day yesterday! These will come in handy for the long weekend!
William Joseph Communications
William Joseph CommunicationsFriday, February 15th, 2019 at 1:46pm
The latest edition to the William Joseph art collection is a special one!

A talented showman (to say the least), Freddie Mercury had a keen sense for both theatrics and design. The Queen front man had a diploma in graphic design from Ealing College of Art and applied his visual talents to various Queen projects, including multiple album covers and the now famous Queen crest. Did you know that the creatures included in the logo (two lions, two fairies and a crab) represent the zodiac signs of each band member?

Coincidentally, many pop culture legends have or had a background in graphic design, including Pete Townshend, David Bowie and Alan Rickman.

As an agency rooted in creativity and built up of many talented artists ourselves, it's safe to say we're pretty fortunate to be in such company.
William Joseph Communications
William Joseph Communications added 3 new photos.Thursday, February 14th, 2019 at 10:25am
Happy Valentine's Day from ours to yours - we love you SEO much!
William Joseph Communications
William Joseph CommunicationsWednesday, February 13th, 2019 at 4:57pm
The website for our client Hillcrest Financial is live! We've had a blast working with their team on this project and are proud to share it with you all.

Take a look at our work and the amazing services Hillcrest offers!
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William Joseph CommunicationsMonday, February 11th, 2019 at 11:52pm
Grande Prairie - A Valentine’s Day surprise. A Ryan’s Roundup in Feb 13 at the Skylark Lounge at the Pomeroy Hotel after work. Who’s in?



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