Insights & Trends
How to Build a Community Around Your Brand
Watch this 90-minute digital summit featuring a panel of whisky experts in a frank discussion about the importance of community building in the industry.
About the session:
At a time when we’re craving more authentic social interactions, simple advertising is no longer enough on its own to capture the attention and loyalty of customers. Instead, brands are increasingly realising the importance of community building, establishing a tribe of loyal followers who in turn become ambassadors for the brands they love. Building a community is not a quick, straightforward venture though – it takes time, consistency and care.
Voices and thoughts from:
Charlie Prince, President at Drammers
Lauren Wildman, Director at Westward Whiskey
Noah Rothbaum, Head of Cocktails & Spirits at Flaviar
Hamish Torrie, Global Brand Ambassador at Ardbeg Whisky
With an introduction from Charlie Steel, Whiskey Portfolio Director for Distill Ventures.
How To Build A Community Around Your Brand: The Key Findings
Industry professionals and whisky entrepreneurs signed up for our recent seminar, covering how to build a community around your brand.
Building a community of loyal and dedicated fans who enjoy the whisky and other spirits you offer is crucial to the success of your brand. In our recent webinar, we’ve invited professionals from the UK and USA to discuss how their brands have built engaged and knowledgeable communities.
Hosting the discussion was Becky Paskin, journalist and founder of OurWhisky, Charlie Prince, President at Drammers, Lauren Wildman, Director at Westward Whiskey, Noah Rothbaum, Head of Cocktails & Spirits at Flaviar and Hamish Torrie, Global Brand Ambassador at Ardbeg Whisky.
We’ve broken the findings from the webinar down into a few key takeaways to help whisky brands build a loyal and engaged community.
Having an engaged community is essential for whisky brands
The panel agreed that it was important for whisky brands to prioritise their communities. It’s about ensuring that brand community leaders are genuine and provide a helping hand to people who have recently joined a whisky community.
Hamish mentioned how essential the community is for Ardbeg. He spoke about how the community is responsible for reaching people the brand cannot reach who would not consider joining a whisky community. Lauren emphasised the need for transparency with both consumers and members by offering something to them.
Charlie highlighted how the community was a pivotal part of growing the Drammers brand, despite it being invite-only. He said: “It’s the people in the room that are the reason people want to come back and I always emphasise this.” Since the club was founded nearly a decade ago, Drammers offer events in over 40 cities across the world.
Having a sense of belonging while providing knowledge to members about the whisky making process is important for whisky brands. From providing knowledge to giving tours of the distillery, it gives the member value knowing that they feel part of not just the community, but the brand too.
Importance of whisky brands creating valuable content for communities
One theme discussed in the roundtable was focused on creating valuable content for communities. Noah pointed out that a lot of whisky brands try to create content by saying the same things over and over again, but it’s important that the piece produced has something unique to say. It needs to not only be knowledgeable, but written in an approachable way.
Charlie highlighted that when people join a whisky club they often get put on a mailing list and get spammed. He praised Westward Whiskey and Ardbeg for how they’ve given value by sending emails that would get the community excited about the product they’re offering.
Investing the time to create valuable and knowledgeable content is crucial to the member’s experience of joining that brand’s community.
Brands need to be more inclusive when getting new whisky consumers to join your community
Inclusion was a theme that was discussed in the latter part of the roundtable. Hamish explained that when a brand starts a whisky community, it has to start with the premise that everybody’s invited.
Noah spoke about the need for communities to navigate around the constantly evolving whisky market. He said: “We want to empower people to find things that they enjoy drinking and Flaviar helps this journey of discovery by giving drinkers context directly from the brands it works with.” Charlie added on Hamish’s point, mentioning that it’s important to speak up if you don’t know something or get something wrong.
Having that space where it’s inclusive for everyone who is part of the brand’s community is absolutely essential, whether they are a new or existing member. Leaders of a community need to make sure that they lead by example and stamp out any behaviour that is deemed unacceptable.
Giving a personal touch when dealing with issues whisky brands may face
Dealing with criticism from social media commentators and community members is something that all brands have to face. Charlie pointed out that they’ve not had to deal with a lot of negative comments on that platform. Due to Drammers being invite-only, he explained that it avoids members and customers from making those comments on social media.
Lauren spoke about the need for brands to have a personal touch when dealing with negative feedback and that providing free products is often a smart move. Hamish mentioned an experience Ardbeg had years ago, where the website crashed when doing new bottlings, leading to a flood of complaints from members.
Being able to give a personal touch when dealing with negative comments and feedback from social media commentators and members. By showing that your whisky brand is human and giving them something in return, it shows that the brand cares for its community members and genuinely wants to provide them with value.
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