Debra Swersky
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Journal

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Community

One of my most favorite brands reached out to me as a potential respondent to their brand survey. (A product of my outreach, perhaps?). Their survey asked: “On a scale of “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree” how would you rate the following for our brand.” Then there was a list of terms, such as: innovation, service, quality, etc. They did this for their brand and all of their competitors. One of the words on their list was “community.” 

I paused at the term “community” with regards to brands and have been thinking about that correlation ever since.

My thoughts surfaced when we closed on our home and moved in. It was a momentous occasion that has left us sprinting up-and-down stairs ever since. Figuratively and literally. 

When we moved to Dallas last year we purchased a washer and dryer from a big, local, company. Our logic was (is?) to stick with one company for as many appliances as possible to minimize the stress of working with multiple companies on different appliances. It seemed like a reasonable plan that would allow us to grow as home-owners, while varying our options. We recognized our washer and dryer decision meant starting a relationship with a brand.

In preparing to move into our new home, we purchased a refrigerator from “our” company. We needed the refrigerator on our closing date, had placed an order for it in enough time for the company to prepare for delivery, and requested (three times!) a particular time window given our close date. In our prior purchase we had even specified that we were new to town. It was a promising situation for them to deliver the service that we had come to expect from them given our prior interactions and referrals.

They did not deliver.

Well, that’s not true. They eventually delivered… it just took a week, two actual refrigerators, a busted door/door-frame, five (different) delivery attempts, four people, six address change confirmations, and more phone calls - automated and otherwise - than I care to count. 

The thought that surfaced while enduring (and yes, “enduring” is the right word) this fridge fiasco was that we had chosen to join the company’s community, and therefore expected to be treated like community members. We chose to start our relationship with them - which was (is?) a big deal as new home buyers - and wanted them to recognize our commitment. (Which at the end of the fiasco needs to be emphasized and exaggerated… and compensated.) The fiasco is not over… so stay tuned.

For one of my most favorite brands, our relationship is already super established. I’m a part of their community and often see the same people day-in-and-day-out and week-in-and-week-out. The brand, however, does a poor job of engendering community within the franchise, which was the question that gave me pause and which I had to answer. Though I get the same product when I visit other cities, I am not treated like the loyal enthusiast that I know that I am… it’s outside of my home studio that the community component of their brand falls off.

Debra Swersky