Table of contents

Start a Revolution, Not a Brand – Part 1

By building communities around what’s important.

“Orb” by Kerry Shaw

We live in a time of great uncertainty and conflict in the world. So it’s never been a better time to build a community. But not just any community. One with meaning and a deeper sense of purpose. One that’s connected to bigger objectives in the world.

That’s where this story begins.

Have you ever wanted to start a revolution?

You’re in luck because I’m going to show you how to start one based around community. This is a multi-part series, something I call Community Revolution.

  • Part 1 (the one you’re reading now) will introduce the main idea and framework.
  • Part 2 will analyze how two well-known brands have built what could be defined as Community Revolutions inside of their respective brands over the course of decades.
  • Part 3 is when things really get exciting. I will show you how to build your own Community Revolution. You don’t want to miss this one.

So without further ado, let’s get into it.

A Community Revolution builds AROUND people, FOR people, and WITH people.

The people (both internal and external) are ALL creators of the community — who gather to continue the revolution.

Your job?

To remind them of the mission…

…by telling stories of the greater revolution (not the product) to people inside of it, outside of it, and to whoever influences them.

Let’s look at the simple framework for a Community Revolution.

Enter the Community Revolution

The framework:

  1. The Revolution (30,000-foot view) It starts at the top. Big topics like education, climate, diversity, equity, and many more. This is the Revolution. The big enchilada. (Example: Climate)
  2. The Movement: (15,000-foot view) Categories inside of the 30,000-ft view. (Example: Sustainability)
  3. The Activities: (500-ft view) Specific activities in which people are “monetizing” pieces of the Revolution in order to contribute to the greater whole. Vast opportunities in community-building and product creation are found here, helping people do the things they need to continue kicking ass. For example, you could build a community around helping creators who are passionate about the sustainability movement with their marketing and social media. Revolutions need to create value through activities, and your role is to help support the builders and creators to do just that.

Example: The 30,000-ft view is climate change. The 15,000-ft view is sustainability. The 500-ft view is where your opportunity as a community builder is found. These are the activities that participants of the revolution act upon, make money around, and think about in order to achieve sustainable living.

Qualities of a Community Revolution

  • The revolution is bigger than any one of us and we must understand our role in its story;
  • Niche is important. Specificity is important. Big vision needs a narrow focus for a clear and easy-to-understand mission to help people focus on how, why, and what community members can contribute;
  • The Revolution must be able to have monetizable “pieces” to drive continued value. (for big brands, that means their main product);
  • All stakeholders in the Community Revolution must be able to share insights with one another to remain innovative;
  • There must be a Builders Platform outside of the community that members can easily build atop to monetize. (for big brands, it means building on top of their IP);
  • Solves real problems for real people and works backward from the problem to arrive at solutions. The strategy is concrete and measurable, not theoretical or squishy;
  • Continuity. Legacy. Passing of the baton.

Don’t put the product first

The product represents a vehicle for the Revolution, but it should never be the main focus.

The key to building a revolutionary community is never to lose sight of the 30,000-ft view.

Community Revolutions aim to advance an important cause in service to society, something that goes beyond the product itself. The community is comprised of passionate people who believe in the greater mission, share its values, and can help the community create a culture and narrative around the cause.

To that end, you don’t want just ANYONE to join your community. You want people who have their hair on fire and will run through walls to serve the 30,000-ft view.

This is why you should not lead with products in a community built around a Revolution. The product must remain a byproduct of the activities inside of the Revolution.

Know the urgency

When something is necessary, it is also urgent. You must find the urgency for your community-built product at the nexus between the Revolution and the activities they have a high intrinsic motivation to do. This cannot be abstract. The more specific, the more potent the demand for your community product by foot soldiers of the Revolution.

But to understand the urgent specificity, you can’t just assume you know the best solution for the community, no matter how well you understand the Revolution itself.

Remember, yours is just one perspective, and in a community, you need to understand what people are struggling with in alignment with THEIR needs, desires, pains, dreams, and goals. Which may look different from yours even if you share overall values.

As a result, it all needs to be built from the ground up with your community members and their input. Therein lies your challenge, which we will get to in greater detail in Part 3 of this series.

You will need to discover the irresistible offer that your community members will want to pay for in order for them to continue on in the Revolution.

Stay tuned for Part 2 in the next issue, where I will analyze two well-known brands, Apple and Spanx, and how they have built what could be defined as Community Revolutions inside of their respective brands over the course of decades.

I will apply the framework to their models so you can see how their Community Revolutions interplay with their brands.

That’s it for now.

If you have any questions or want to give me feedback so far on the main idea behind the Community Revolution, just hit reply. I try to answer all emails.

Why do marketing when you can do Human Marketing?

P.S. Here are more ways I can help in your journey.

“Seeing around corners” 90-minute consulting session. I will help you decide on the right path and give you the clarity to move forward with a newfound sense of conviction in your business.

Pick my brain about: Storytelling; Founder Narrative (let’s create one for you); Marketing; Community; Ecosystem building; Finding meaning in brand and communities; Web3 & NFTs; Human Marketing; Finding your why; Mission, Vision, and Values; Creating purposeful products; Social media; and more.