April 19, 2018

Building Brand Communities

As a member of the National Retail Federation, I receive daily email briefings about trends and happenings in the retail world. Geek that I am, I always feel so on top of things to know that Target is rebranding their private label to focus on "real moms and stories about how they save at Target. This is a more genuine approach, with real people telling personal stories, and will strengthen the emotional bond we have with our guests." 

Or to read about new trends in innovation, including  6-steps for consumer-centric innovation, including: "A new art and science of collaboration is emerging — we call it ‘wikinomics.’ It is a metaphor for a new era of collaboration and participation." 

I get these briefings everyday and there is always something intriguing in each one. I found this one particularly interesting and thought you would enjoy it, too. It’s called "10 Tips for Building Brand Communities." 

You’ll want to read the entire article itself (it is short), but the 10 tips are right up the alley of libraries who are moving into the online community world. What I find interesting is that many of the tips apply to traditional channels of customer communication as well. Some of the better tips (orange text is my comments):

  1. Focus on your customer’s needs. Focus on answering the question, “Why would consumers form a community around our brand?” rather than “How many people can we sign up?”  We need to think about why people come to the library when information is everywhere. At my library that answer lies in our people and our spaces.
  2. Foster many-to-many relationships. Therefore, build peer-to-peer communication into your structure. Libraries can do this in our public spaces as well — letting the public leave their imprint on our space; letting the customer interaction be a two-way sharing of experience.
  3. Don’t create “more.” Rather than spend time asking people to create more content, make it easy for people to enjoy and engage with the stuff that already exists. At my library we’re highlighting the hidden treasures we already own….all libraries have so many!…rather than focusing only on the new.
  4. Let your advocates advocate. Your advocates are not pawns—they are your partners, so treat them that way. This requires looking deep into our souls and letting go of control. That is easier said than done.
  5. Keep it simple. Just because you can add a feature, doesn’t mean you should. This is counter-cultural to libraries. My experience is that for libraries more is more when it comes to information. That may be true some of the time; much of the time it is overwhelming.
  6. Observe the 1-9-90 rule. 1% of your population will create content, 9% will comment or engage with it, and 90% will just browse. Voyeurs rule the online world, so keep this in mind. This was especially helpful to me — as we are adding customer-driven content to our web and building experience, we often ask — how can we engage people in participation.

I’ll keep my daily watch on these briefing to see what can translate to the rapidly changing world of libraries.

Hope you all have a great Memorial Day. I’m off for the annual Circle Family Get-Away with my brother and sister and all our kids. It is a memory-making time. Hope yours is the same!

Alison Circle About Alison Circle

Alison Circle is director of marketing communications for Columbus Metropolitan Library. Previously she was an Account Director at Jack Morton Worldwide, a global branding agency, and her primary client was Target Stores. Prior to that she was the National Marketing Director for Minnesota Public Radio and "A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor." She has advanced degrees in English and Fine Arts, and is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant.



  1. Charlie says:

    Hi there,
    http://www.libraryjournal.com to GoogleReader!