8 Inspiring Examples Of Online Brand Communities

8 Inspiring Examples Of Online Brand Communities

In this article, we'll go over the top online brand community examples and what you can learn from them.

Brand loyalty is defined by a sense of belonging. Before online brand communities, there were owners’ clubs and exclusive events organised by brands for their most valued customers. These things still exist, and they continue to play a central role in building and establishing a strong brand that will stand the test of time in today’s volatile market. But today, brands have more opportunities to connect with customers than ever before. And we’re not talking about only about social media either – we’re talking about brand communities with a sense of identity that’s near impossible to achieve on huge global networks alone.

What is an online brand community?

An online brand community is a dynamic space where individuals share a common interest in a brand, actively engaging with it and each other. This community can exist as part of a website or on social media platforms. It's not just about product discussions; it fosters emotional connections, transforming consumers into active community members. These communities offer a range of benefits including customer service, incentives for active members, and enhanced brand loyalty.

The essence of an online brand community lies in its ability to create a sense of belonging and connection. Members interact not only with the brand but also with each other, sharing experiences and ideas. This interaction leads to a deeper emotional bond with the brand, reflected in activities like content engagement and product sharing.

Key features of online brand communities include:

  1. Shared interest and active engagement: Centered around a brand, these communities encourage discussions, idea sharing, and experiences related to the brand's products or services.

  2. Emotional connection and community building: They transcend mere transactions, cultivating emotional bonds and a sense of belonging among members.

  3. Support and incentives: Ranging from customer service to rewards for active participation, these incentives enhance member engagement.

  4. Interaction space: Connected to the brand’s website or social media, these spaces facilitate interactions between the brand and its community members, enriching the consumer experience.

  5. Consumer to community member transition: By engaging in these communities, consumers evolve into community members, finding connection and identity through the brand.

Overall, an online brand community is a valuable tool for brands to build strong, emotionally connected customer relationships, fostering loyalty and a shared sense of identity.

Online brand community examples

To learn how to create a brand community that stands the test of time, there’s no better way to start than by exploring some of the best online brand community examples in existence.

Let’s explore some of the best online brand community examples on the web and why they’re so successful:

#1. Apple

Apple might be one of the biggest consumer electronics companies in the world, but there’s a lot that smaller brands can learn from their enormous marketing success as well. There are reasons why they’re products tend to be a lot more expensive than they’re competitors’, and it’s not just about quality, innovation and support. For many Apple customers, iPhones and MacBooks are a part of their identities. The Apple Support Community goes beyond offering peer-to-peer support to offer fans a place to hang out and share their experiences too.Why it’s successful Apple Support Communities boost customer success by offering a space for feedback, self-service support and knowledge-sharing across one of the most active fan communities in the world. It fuels engagement with user-generated content and uses gamification to reward and encourage constructive participation.


#2. Lego

One of the best examples of brand communities is the Lego community. The Danish toy giant has enjoyed seventy years of unparalleled success and thrived during an age in which parents often have a hard time getting their children away from the screen. A household name all over the world, it’s spawned a global franchise consisting of movies, video games, and Legoland amusement parks. Lego Ideas originally started in 2008 in collaboration with a Japanese website and has since grown to become a major product ideation community. Here, Lego fans can submit construction ideas, and popular ones can end up on the shelves.Why it’s successfulCustomers love to have a say in the development of the products they enjoy, and the Lego Ideas community gives its customers that power. By allowing members to submit their product ideas and launching contests, creative fans have the chance to choose what they want to see on the shelves next. Lego has managed to create a community that drives product ideation.

#3. Airbnb

Founded by two former schoolmates in 2007 who started off by renting out an air mattress in their living room, Airbnb has since grown into a multi-billion-dollar company serving the global accommodation market. One of the driving forces behind the brand’s enormous success is its online community center, membership of which is open to verified hosts. A social, insight, and support platform all wrapped into one, the Airbnb host community lets members share tips and tricks, connect with other hosts in their areas, and organise local social gatherings.Why it’s successfulTravel is one of those topics that almost everyone likes to talk about, especially now that the world has become so much more accessible. The Airbnb host community thrives on this fact by offering a space for people to build relationships, learn more about each other’s cultures and become better hosts.

#4. Sephora

Paris-based personal care and beauty chain Sephora owns almost 300 brands, many of which are sold all over the world. A couple of years ago, the company decided to launch a new digital endeavour in the form of the Beauty Insider Community, a member-only platform tied to the brand’s complimentary loyalty program. The community gives members a place to share their beauty tips and seek inspiration in a unique and exclusive social setting. At launch, it was also a first for the prestige retail industry, and it’s been growing rapidly ever since.Why it’s successfulPeople are always asking friends and family members or looking to Instagram influencers for the latest beauty tips. By consolidating their other community assets, such as Beauty Board, Beauty Talk and Ratings and Reviews, Sephora managed to create a community experience that’s cohesive, immersive, and fuels conversational shopping.


#5. Red Bull

Created in Austria in 1987, Red Bull has grown to dominate the global energy drink market, but there’s much more to the brand than its caffeine-laced pick-me-ups. Red Bull is a name most people immediately associate with sports, endurance, and wings. The brand dominates a huge number of high-octane events from parkour to surfing to motocross to eSports. It has become a multimedia mogul in its own right thanks to the effects of sponsorship, word of mouth, social media and merchandise.Why it’s successfulThe Red Bull community combines the power of social networking, sponsorship and word-of-mouth advertising to keep fans informed about events ranging from music festivals to eSports. The brand regularly adjusts its marketing strategy to build closer relationships with customers and advance its dynamic and high-energy image. This makes it a great online brand community example.

#6. PlayStation

In 1994, PlayStation made its foray into the global console gaming market with the launch of one of the most popular gaming platforms ever known. It founded its first online service with the launch of the PlayStation Network in 2006, as the gaming sector shifted towards connected online communities where people could buy and play their favourite titles online. PlayStation Plus was later launched to provide access to premium features, such as early access to pre-release games, regular discounts and social features like online forums and community apps.Why it’s successfulNot only is PlayStation Plus one of the biggest communities of elite gamers – it’s an advocate community consisting of eSports fans, enthusiasts and leading influencers in the industry. The success of the community hinges on the way it rewards its most valuable members with recognition and provides a space for sharing tips and scheduling online play sessions.

#7. Harley Davidson

Harley Davidson has been one of the world’s best-loved motorcycle brands for over a century. It’s spawned both formal and informal owners’ clubs in hundreds of countries and territories, and it’s become synonymous with freedom and high-energy adventure. As a lifestyle icon in its own right, the brand launched the Harley Owners Club as a way to bring fans together and organise events and meetups all over the globe. It’s since grown to become one of the most popular motoring communities on the web.Why it’s successfulThe Harley Owners Club works by developing and reinforcing the identity of its fans and giving them access to exclusive benefits, such as invitations to official events, membership of local chapters, and additional services like insurance and roadside assistance. Combined, these efforts build brand loyalty and help Harley owners get more out of their motorcycles.


#8. Rod Stryker

World-famous yoga instructor Rod Stryker started teaching in 1982 and has since developed a strong personal brand and become a go-to authority in yoga and meditation. He’s also built an extensive portfolio of video trainings and online classes and published a bestselling book. Facing a rapidly growing global community, he decided to launch an online platform where his fans could connect with one another and interact with his lessons no matter where they were. The Sanctuary app made this possible when it was launched in October 2018.Why it’s successfulWell, for one thing, it’s powered by our community platform Disciple! But, brags aside, Sanctuary has succeeded in its goal of making his trainings more accessible and bringing its members together in a mobile-first social space where they can interact with one another and make new friends. We're really proud to feature this case study as one of our online brand community examples.

Brand communities thrive with Disciple

Here are some of the important takeaways from these powerful brand community examples:

  • The ability to create and disseminate user-generated content is a powerful draw.

  • A great brand community consolidates various aspects of brand interest into a single space.

  • The ability to create groups of people within the community who share ideas and interests helps foster and strengthen the community.

  • A great brand community bolsters private and public perception of community members.

  • A successful brand community thus has a magnetism that transcends the product or service.

You will note that none of the above brand community examples owe their success to the company imposing its will on the community itself. In most cases, they simply provide a rallying point for community members (that would be the product or service) and then give them the tools to shape the community experience themselves (within reason of course).

That hands-off approach is exactly what makes Disciple’s community platform such a powerful tool, and goes a long way toward explaining its rising popularity. Add to that the ability to monetise your community in a variety of ways, as well as top-shelf customer support and you have community software that matters.