Brand Fandom

Last month, you may recall, B-Sides introduced the concept of converting clients into fans. No more is it enough, we pondered, to build loyalty for your brand. You must build fans willing to wear t-shirts.


This month, we offer suggestions towards an approach that may build fandom. The details are particular to your industry, audience and brand, so we’ll leave them out. Instead, we will describe principles.


Keep in mind that fandom does not happen overnight. Like a band working a touring circuit year-upon-year before the house is always full, persistence brings eventual rewards. But for that band to attract fans that wear t-shirts, they must stick true to the approach. Sure, their style may change over the years. Fans may come and go as a result. That’s ok. The fans that stay will be more rabid – in a marketing sense, they will be advocates that proselytize your brand – and convert more rabid fans. The fans that abandoned ship were fair-weather fans, anyway. Point is, stay true to original values and approach, but do not be afraid of evolving the details.


Here are some principles worth considering when developing approach:


  • Do Not Be Faceless No one will identify with a faceless entity, and fans need to identify with you. Essentially, do not hide whom you are in an appeal to reach a broader audience. Show yourself. The person that is behind the communications should be visible and available.
  • Authenticity We can’t express this one enough, which is why it pops up all the time in advice we offer. Everyone can spot a phony, just ask J.D. Salinger – err, wait, you can’t. Trust us, people will respond better to what your brand actually is – warts and all – than some constructed presentation.
  • Personable Simply put, be human. How does this differ from the first two? Well, this one requires you to reach out to your audience as an individual communicating with another individual. In social media, which really applies to all these, this is key. These are the posts that talk about you favorite bagel or loathing of weather. But it also talks about the concern you have for an upset customer, if it is genuine. Personable people have compassion, faults, odd habits, etc.
  • Go where they are: Your fans are hanging out. Are you hanging out where they are? No? not even sure where that might be? Better figure it out. Find where they are congregating – especially online – and hang out with them there, while being personable, authentic, and full of face.
  • Not all business, all the time: Seriously, you know the friend: He’s the one who can’t leave work at work. She’s the one who when you hang out only talks about work. It’s awful. Have some downtown with your fans when you are not pitching, promoting, selling. The irony is, this is a great way to do just that.
  • Integrity Your fans are fans because they identify with you, your values, your principles, your lifestyle. If you break that, it is a serious violation. This is not the kind of evolution of a band evolving; this is a brand that never actually was what it claimed to be. Don’t do that.