Brands grow from the inside out starting with the first innovators who are willing to try something new and moving on to early adopters, theÂ early majority, the late majority, and finally the laggards. What may not seem immediately obvious is that brands need to continue inspiring the innovators and the early adopters even after they’ve crossed into the larger adoption segments. I will explain why this is necessary to grow, or even to maintain existing, community. The first important because brands naturally lose some customers due to shedding.
Brands naturally lose some customers due to shedding. Shedding occurs because of normal market fluctuations and because people’s circumstances change. For your community shedding is also a simpler and easier process than adopting. And simple math explains that if you’re shedding more than you’re adopting, your community will shrink. It is generally accepted that the cost of reducing shedding (attriction of community) is less than the cost of acquiring new customers (or supporting new adoption). That said, many companies focus on preventing shedding and neglect something that has more damaging and significant long-term costs, brand rot. It happens when companies forget about their core community after building a solid the late majority. While this might improve the experience of the main stream community for a while, and increase sales, it will eventually result in less engagement and greater shedding.
Unlike shedding, which happens at the periphery of your brand, rotting takes place at core. Products and services are constantly changing to reflect changes in the market environment. With change comes the need to learn about new features, interactions, and experiences a brand offers. It’s the core community that understands the legacy of development for the product/service best and who are positioned to share it with the next circle of the community/influence. If you stop paying attention to your core community, you won’t be able promote the perfusion of new stuff to your community. This is especially important if you’re extending existing lines, or introducing new ones.
First, let’s look at a standard representation of community adoption. What I find a little misleading about this curve is that you might think that the x-axis represents time. In which case, it’s hard to capture the idea that it’s possible to continually grow from this inside out. In other words, once you’re through the early adoption segment you can focus entirely on the early majority.
Which I why I created a representation of my own:
With this representation, I’ve tried to show how brands grow from the inside, while still preserving the information about the size of each segment of adopters. Here the size of the circle represents the size of the adoption segment (in the chart above the area under the curve does this). I’ve alse added shading to indicate the emotional engement the segment has with the brand. On the left is a representation of a healthy brand and on the right there is an example of an unhealthy brand. In the healthy example, the arrows show a flow of community moving outward from each segment to replace loss at the periphery due to shedding. In the example on the right, however, the center communities have been neglected and are no longer emotionally engaged with the brand. This results in a lack of movement from innovators to early adopters, and from early adopters to the early majority, thus the arrows have been removed.
Thanks for reading, and I look forward to your feedback.