How To Brand A Community

6 Golden Rules for Binding People

If your product is a community, or your community is beginning to become the product, you are already living in the future of Strong Ties (a concept we explored more deeply here).

And in this future we need new rules for brand strategy.

Weak ties historically allowed us to extract value from the peripheries of our networks (think LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter), while strong ties extract value from relationships at the center of our networks (think Patreon, Polywork, and the proliferation of like minded living communities).

This is a massive shift considering that weak ties have been the underpinning of social innovation for the last two decades, and are now declining while strong ties are starting to emerge as the dominant threads of our social fabric.

New social innovation means that any meaningful group will be forced to rearrange itself, whether it’s an online community, a movement, employee culture, subculture, club or cult following.

Strong tie communities tend to have the following characteristics:

They naturally incentivize going deeper with smaller circles of people, rather than going wider with larger circles of people.

They prioritize innovation in how people connect, not how many people they connect with.

They allow members to individualize themselves instead of forcing them to standardize themselves.

... and they give members true ownership, either through literal shares and coins, or by giving them the power to shape the group culture, norms and evolution.

When strong ties become the future of community, community becomes the new brand.

Here are 6 golden rules to build that brand strategically:

  1. If you break an old system, you must create a new one

  2. Know why you gather

  3. Embrace optimism

  4. Surface your vibe

  5. Memorialize the good and the bad

  6. Strong ties or nothing

Keep reading to learn how each one of these rules works and how to employ them for your own community brand.

Lovers & Haters

Here's what we've been consuming.

What happens when your brand is co-opted by extremists? (The Hustle): “This phenomenon—when a brand is unwillingly co-opted by fringe groups to advance their message—is known as hatejacking. Hatejacking has become increasingly common as extremist politics have crept into the mainstream, interfering with brands aiming to please broad audiences…Companies like Pit Viper face a daunting challenge: When a fringe group takes over your brand, can you ever get it back?”
The 'hidden talent' that determines success (BBC): “‘The number one predictor of your success in today’s borderless world is not your IQ, not your resume (CV), and not even your expertise,’ writes social scientist David Livermore…‘It’s your CQ.’ According to the latest findings, a high CQ could be crucial in a wide range of careers, from bankers to soldiers and scientists and teachers—anyone, in fact, who regularly interacts with people from different backgrounds.”

Does every direct-to-consumer brand need to build a community? (Thingtesting): “Tendai Moyo, the cofounder of extensions brand RUKA, says brands that focus on building community where there isn’t one—or perhaps doesn’t need to be one—can serve as a distraction from other important aspects of brand building, such as making improvements to the product itself. ‘The DTC brands that have been heavily focused on brand and community, and haven’t evolved on their product, are starting to struggle a bit,’ she says.”

Why Masculinity Is the Elephant in the Room for Advertisers (Adweek): “'The problem is there’s a very narrow definition of masculinity, and it’s seen as bad. Not all of masculinity is toxic,' she said. 'That’s a very little heard message these days: that it’s okay to be a bloke. I think men would love to have a conversation about broadening masculinity, because it can include so many different things that are positive.'”
‘Everything Is Terrible, but I’m Fine’ (The Atlantic): “Even outside economics and finances, a record-high gap has opened up between Americans’ personal attitudes and their evaluations of the country. In early 2022, Gallup found that Americans’ satisfaction with 'the way things are going in personal life' neared a 40-year high, even as their satisfaction with 'the way things are going in the U.S.' neared a 40-year low…Individual hope and national despair are not contradictions. For now, they form the double helix of the American spirit.”

BFFs, but make it official: The rise of platonic life partnerships (Dazed Digital): “According to data scientist Vincent Harinam, a number of conditions have created ‘pronounced imbalances’ in the dating pool: ‘Put plainly, an increasing cohort of successful women are chasing a shrinking number of high-value, commitment-averse men,’ he writes. The fact that increasing numbers of young people are lonely, having less sex, and embracing the individualistic ‘single positivity movement’ affirms that dating, especially for women who date men, is… not good right now. With all this in mind, it’s unsurprising that interest in platonic life partnerships is rising.”

WEIRD as a Service (In Bed With Social): "The irrational exuberance evoked by Greenspan in the 90s now seems to be on steroids, or even crack: Anil Dash recently reported that back in march, one of the best-selling app on his platform was an app designed to block crazy NFT sellers. Aw, just what on earth is going on here?"

What a wild time to be a human. Hope you're enjoying yourself.

Jasmine Bina
Founder & CEO
Concept Bureau, Inc.