Using Your Brand to Create a Movement

by Jocelyne Daw.



The long-term success of any community initiative (nonprofit or corporate!) depends on a critical mass of like-minded people—supporters who feel a sense of connection and are inspired by the organization’s mission and values.  To breakthrough an organization cannot be all things to all people. So instead, it spends time making sure that it is offering the right things to the right people. By prioritizing where it will spend its limited time and resources, an organization maximizes the return on its investments. Create a communitySusan G. Komen For The Cure has been a global leader in creating a strong bond between women and families around the cause of breast cancer. Katrina McGhee, former senior vice president of Global Business Development Partnerships, stated, “Our founder, Nancy Brinker, was an early voice that sounded the alarm about breast cancer and its impact on women. But she understood change would not happen without a large enough group of dedicated people coming together to work for that change.” How do you bring a community together to deliver value and tangible impact?

  • Know a critical mass of people is vital to propel social impact;

  • Build a community as an end, not just a means;

  • Focus on building a relationship first, donations and support will follow;

  • Understand who your supporters are, and why they are involved;

  • Act as a community connector, bringing people together around common interests;

  • Nurture and grow community by engaging in dialogue, listening, and responding;

  • Be inclusive, but don’t try to please everyone;

  • Understand that direct experiences with the brand meaning trump communications;

  • Create a variety of interactive brand meaning or mission-centered experiences.

The organization relied almost wholly on organic publicity from their followers. Komen realized it need to capitalize on the long-standing issue of leadership to clarify who it was and what it stood for. They have differentiated their organization in the marketplace and as a result increased its impact. They have reached out to new audiences in a way that was fresh and progressive which has resulted in investing an additional $1B over the next decade towards finding a cure. The external community is vital to delivering their brand commitment and living their brand values.  What can we learn from the Komen For the Cure leadership in the breast cancer movement? Meet your community’s needs Your community will always be eager to advocate for your brand if you are able to create value and resources for their support. Here’s how:

  • Create a vibrant and engaged community of participants, supporters, and champions;

  • Offer participants practical value and transactional benefits that align with their needs and/or interests;

  • Provide supporters deeper personalized benefits, rewards, and experiences that connect individuals more directly to the brand meaning;

  • Build credibility and loyalty by doing what you say you will do.

Celebrate success through positive reinforcementYour support system will multiply and grow with constant positive reinforcement. Reward members of your community who are helping your brand expand:

  • Connect with your most passionate champions and work with and through them to mobilize their networks.

  • Create the truest sense of community by creating champions for your brand who say, ‘‘This is my kind of organization!’’

  • Grow supporters through innovation;

  • Continuously and creatively look for more friends;

  • Reframe your case to engage new and nontraditional supporters with the right messaging, relevant experiences, and thoughtful connections;

  • Regularly share results with your community in a way that is authentic and transparent.

Key Lessons:In researching how community brands breakthrough the following spectrum of community building provides a framework for success: Base: Form a brand community – Deliver participant benefits and cultivate individual relationships as a cornerstone of building a community.Build: Foster the brand community – Nurture supporters and develop a robust community by appealing to their needs, beliefs, and values.Breakthrough: Grow the brand community. Empower brand champions and constantly grow the community by reaching new audiences.