Brand is transforming, it's no longer about a singular product or service. It's about creating an ecosystem and community. Are you looking into your everyday examples of brand?

The Evolving Brand Community

By: Marisa White

I created a recent post around this idea, “You don’t go to to buy Gatorade.” It’s a comment made as someone was explaining to me the imperative around Gatorade’s own initiative to expand their brand image as the total athletic solution.

It’s an idea and comment that began to shape my view on the conversations around the brand ecosystem. Evaluating the Apple ecosystem as the common example brings a set of complexities and intimidation comparing organizations barely familiar with the role of design within their organization. However, a household product can be immensely more relatable and the impact on your day to day life.

Through a multitude of examples, you can begin to see the impact of the brand ecosystem in everyday examples to begin to view your organization. For instance, at my last visit to Costco, we sampled a variety of organic meatballs and sausages. All were delicious and we decided to purchase. However, the sales man, a very boisterous Italian man who I would have believed created the product himself by the way he detailed and explained the ingredients, recipes, and nuances, kept referring to a pamphlet and website.

“Look, if you buy these, you definitely have to go to our website and see all these different recipes you can make once you buy these.”

The first few meals, I had an idea in mind. However, come the third dish or fourth, I thought of that sales man, and went to the website to mix things up. Since then, I have become a more robust and diverse user—not only buying the organic meatballs, but venturing into their varieties of sausages given some of the tasty dishes I’ve seen featured—but on top of this, am a customer even when I am not a customer. I go to their website regularly to browse on my way home from work as I’m trying to think of inspiration for my next meal.

Examples like this are incredibly powerful. This sausage company has more impact on my day to day life than my bank. Because of this community they have built around recipes and sharing.

Another example to evaluate is the way that organizations are transforming employee experience. Work consumes the majority of your day to day, but should and how should it infiltrate your life outside of 9-5pm. Many organizations are looking for a way to keep employees engaged with the brand and mission, because alternatively, highly skilled workers are leaving for better experiences.

An example on this avenue includes these same tactics being used on employees to enhance their experience. For instance, Anheuser Busch created an internal marketing campaign focused on the employee experience. They created social communities and used SEO optimization, targeted advertisement, and analytics on their own workers to make sure the right information, exciting news, and updates were shared through their Instagram, Facebook, etc. What can we do to make this exciting for our biggest brand advocates?

Overall, brand is transforming, singular products are no longer a single transaction, it’s an opportunity to increase customer lifetime value through continued engagement. And human-centered design has become one of the largest advocates for uncovering and optimizing the experience.