Breakthrough Brands 2020:

As strong as your network

If the growing number of social clubs, meetups, and boutique fitness classes are any indicator, our modern lives have left us craving community. Instead of growing them organically—a slow and sometimes painstaking process—we are opting into ready-made ones gathered around deep passions and strong ideological brands. As we hit peak experience, brands will need to offer more than superficial immersion (think gimmicky pop-ups and livestreams) to build customer affinity. They will need to provide true opportunities for connectivity, either with representatives of a brand or with other consumers.

An emphasis on community has been evident in the brands of the past decade, such as SoulCycle, Soho House, and Xbox gaming. And this new generation of brands is putting it at the core of its identity from the start. Some are building businesses to serve thriving subcultures (like The Action Network for sports fanatics and Stock X for sneakerheads), while others are nurturing community through built-in interactive options.

Brynn Putnam, Founder and CEO of the home fitness company, Mirror, states: “Community is really at the heart of everything we do. Our community is built around the shared experience of an incredible workout. During Mirror workouts, participants and instructors can send notes and emojis using the Mirror app which appear on the Mirror for all to see”. And it’s paying off. Only 7.6% of all social media posts referencing Airbnb talk about community; compare that to Mirror’s 18.5%. What’s so striking about that is that Airbnb has spent five years building their brand around this idea, while Mirror has only been on the market for half this time.

Throughout this pandemic, the concept of social cohesion has moved to the forefront of public consciousness. As social distancing has forced us to rethink our understanding of the physical community—and the importance of an online one—brands have begun reflecting that hunger for togetherness in inspiring and eye-opening ways. We wonder: how will the nature of a brand “community” change as people are slowly able to step outside their digital circles and resume their in-person interactions?

Download the Breakthrough Brands 2020 report here.