How 3 Brands Launched From Communities
If you’ve been following our blog recently, you know we’ve been talking a lot about community. We’ve been preaching that, through community-focused activations, brands can turn their loyal fanbase into brand partners who support the business and spread word-of-mouth buzz. We’ve even provided resources like:
- 7 Members Every Brand Needs to Build a Diverse Community
- 6 Strategies for Effective Community Building
- Community Lessons From the World’s Leading Brands
But don’t just take our word for it. There are a handful of brands today that have met success due to their community building efforts.
Engaging a community has proven to be good for business. In fact, some companies were actually inspired by passionate communities of people who were searching for products or services that would fuel their fire. Today, we’ll walk through how 3 brands launched from communities.
Before Weight Watchers (WW) was an international weight loss and fitness program, it was a small club started by Jean Nidetch in 1963. In her late 30s, Jean was successfully able to lose weight after visiting a New York City-based obesity clinic and keeping the diet that they gave her. She copied the program and handed it out to a group of six friends who she had invited to her apartment. She knew from this first meeting that the challenge wasn’t just food. People were more likely to succeed with their dieting goals if they had each other for support and advice.
Jean’s approach provided a clear weight loss strategy and an unapologetic focus on dieting at a time when people were silently worrying about losing weight. Unsurprisingly, the weekly meetings grew in size and Jean had to find a formal space. An increasing number of people were coming together to talk about their physical struggles and daily experiences due to their weight.
And thus, Weight Watchers was born. People who had attended WW in New York and saw successful results spread Jean’s model of programming and social support by opening a Weight Watchers branch when they moved out of the city.
Weight Watchers is rooted in community. Particularly for habits like compulsive eating, people need to take an emotional approach to solve the problem. WW provides spaces — both offline and online — where people struggling with such a vulnerable issue could build relationships with each other, keep each other accountable, and inspire one another to meet their goals.
Its in-person meetings happen all over the world, enabling WW members to replicate the ritualistic events and stay consistent, no matter where they are. Online, WW has a private space called Connect, where members share fitness tips, recipes, and encouragement to keep at it. Ultimately, Weight Watchers has successfully turned a community of people with a shared interest into a brand that encourages members to continue sharing personal stories, supporting each other, and pursuing collective goals.
In 2010, Huda Kattan started her beauty-focused blog “Huda Beauty,” where she shared how-to videos, her favorite products, and unique makeup techniques to try. At the same time, she had started creating her own products for fun, such as false eyelashes.
She quickly developed a considerable presence on social media, including Instagram (40.4 million followers at the time of publication) and YouTube (3.7 million subscribers), and gained a fanbase of passionate beauty lovers. Specifically, her cult following was a community of men and women who want to feel included in an industry historically dictated by beauty standards.
Huda understood that the community she built had more power than she originally anticipated. With a loan from her sister in 2013, Huda launched Huda Beauty (the brand) to a booming success. Not only did her false eyelashes sell out of Sephora, they got major exposure when Kim Kardashian wore a pair at the Met Gala. Following the successful launch, she expanded her collection to include foundations, concealers, lipsticks, eyeshadows, setting powders, highlighters, and brushes. Keeping her loyal community in mind, she took shade-matching very seriously and developed an inclusive 30-shade foundation in 2017. Just three days after launch, 9 of the shades were already sold out.
Her platform as a blogger and influencer still proves to be a welcoming space for beauty lovers to learn new makeup tactics and engage with each other. To this day, her Instagram features members of her community and their Huda Beauty looks.
Levi Strauss & Co.
In 1853, Levi Strauss arrived in San Francisco to sell dry goods to miners during the California Gold Rush. People from all over the country were traveling west in search of fortune and would spend months camping out in often inhospitable climates. Pants made out of traditional fabric would be destroyed in a matter of weeks.
When Strauss saw the miners working in pants with holes and loose threads, he knew they needed more durable clothing. So, he struck up a partnership with a tailor named Jacob Davis to design heavy cotton work pants with rivets in the pocket corners to make them sturdier and capable of withstanding the tough work environment.
Although the pants were originally a response to the needs of the miners, the “waist high overalls” were a hit among the region’s teamsters, lumberjacks, and farmers as well. Jeff Beckman, a company spokesperson explains, “They were so popular that miners and prospectors would say, ‘Have you heard about these pants coming from Levi’s?’ Over time, the name just stuck.” Thus, Levi Strauss & Co. was born.
By 1873, thousands of San Francisco residents were strutting around in Strauss and Davis’ pants. Now, 166 years later, Levi’s jeans are still a fan favorite.
Levi Strauss & Co. has stood the test of time. The reason the brand has survived and continues to thrive today is largely by engaging with its community.
Historically, the brand has partnered with community members, including celebrities like Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley, popular athletes, and other affiliates, to spread the word about its high-quality products. In addition, it has mastered incorporating consumer feedback to its products, which has enabled the brand to address various fits, washes, and fashion elements and stay current. With the help of its community, Levi Strauss & Co. has built a brand that is long-lasting, just like its jeans.
Find Your Community
If your brand didn’t start out as a small group of people with a passion, don’t worry! It’s not too late to build a community. Chances are, your customers are already giving you feedback, posting about your products on social media, and recommending it to their own friends and family. Now is the time to hone in on those loyal advocates, engage with them, and turn them into true brand partners.