What if…“community” becomes a largely digital experience?

To celebrate Landor’s 75th anniversary, we wanted to consider some of the changes that could impact branding in the coming 25 years and beyond. What developments will radically shift our perception of product, brand, and identity? This month we’re taking inspiration from the Hindu festival Diwali—also called the Festival of Lights—which emphasizes friends, families, and communities coming together in celebration of a new season.

As the world becomes more digital, the ways we experience a shared sense of community are drastically changing. People are increasingly joining online groups and interest communities—from Fitbit’s competition-based digital health groups to member communities for subscription services like Birchbox and JustFab—and moving away from physical, in-person meetings. Function-based communities are also popping up faster than ever before—from developer communities that can help you code to home renovation communities offering tips for remodeling. As digital communities become more and more popular—and the role of physical communities changes—what are the implications for brands? What role should brands play?

Fitbit digital community

Digital communities could begin to influence what brands stand for and how they position themselves. Take, for instance, a brand centered around a principle, such as being economically friendly. What if the brand develops a community of vocal proponents it didn’t expect (for example, hardcore bargain shoppers). What if those supporters isolate or turn off other potential customers? How will brands navigate potentially conflicting audiences?

Similarly, digital communities could offer companies an entirely new way to reach potential consumers who might be unaware of a brand’s offerings. Brand managers could track which communities are inherently attracted to their brand and target communities with overlapping interests, helping expand their brand’s audience and reach new customers.

A new era of digital communities could also facilitate faster communication about brands and products. As a result, the ability to soft-launch an offering may disappear. Consumer sentiment could be shared so quickly that incomplete or imperfect product launches might quash a brand before it even has a chance to succeed. Brands may lose the room to play—to experiment, to take risks, to push boundaries—because judgment is so swift and decisive.

COmmunity

And what of physical communities? How could changes with person-to-person interactions impact the future of society, technology, products, design, or branding? Weigh in on our social channels using #Landor75 to share your thoughts.

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