Guides Book review: Building Brand Communities by Carrie Melissa Jones and Charles Vogl

Book review: Building Brand Communities by Carrie Melissa Jones and Charles Vogl

Last updatedJune 9, 2024
AuthorKai Forsyth

We’re living in the loneliest era in history, with nearly half of Americans reporting feeling isolated or lacking meaningful connections. And that’s bad for people and organizations alike. As Jones and Vogl highlight, when we feel disconnected at work, we’re less engaged, less productive, and more likely to jump ship. Loneliness is a serious business problem.

Enter Building Brand Communities: How Organizations Succeed by Creating Belonging. This book is all about how to bring people together in an authentic way that serves both organizational goals and people’s deep need to belong. Jones and Vogl argue that too many organizations settle for superficial, transactional relationships with stakeholders when they could be building something so much richer and more rewarding. The authors want to help leaders create communities where members feel mutual concern, share personal values, and take part in meaningful experiences together, whether online or off.

Carrie Melissa Jones and Charles Vogl are the perfect guides for this journey. Jones is a longtime community builder who has worked with organizations worldwide, while Vogl literally wrote the book on The Art of Community. Together, they’ve poured years of experience and insight into Building Brand Communities.

The book opens with a powerful call to action, highlighting the epidemic of loneliness and disconnection in our society and workplaces. Jones and Vogl paint a vivid picture of the costs of isolation - from disengaged employees to fractured communities. But they also offer hope, arguing that authentic brand communities can be a potent antidote, providing the belonging and purpose we crave.

A practical blueprint for belonging

This isn’t just feel-good fluff – the book lays out specific ways authentic communities can boost innovation, talent recruitment and retention, customer loyalty, marketing, support, and cultural movements. With case studies from major brands like Sephora, Twitch, Salesforce, and Airbnb, they show how it’s done.

I especially appreciated the worksheets and practices in the book’s appendix, which summarize key community-building strategies for different business goals, from running an innovation community to a support forum. The worksheets on identifying a brand community’s purpose, selecting and training leaders, and encouraging engagement look particularly useful. The book is thoughtfully structured into three parts: brand community foundations, building from the beginning, and deeper engagement techniques.

The book has a warm, conversational tone that pulls you in. Jones and Vogl come across as trusted mentors who genuinely want to empower you to build community. They break things down clearly, share relatable examples, and give you practical tools to try, without ever sounding preachy or overwhelming. The only thing I wished for was more discussion of common pitfalls to avoid and how to troubleshoot when things aren’t going as planned. But overall, Building Brand Communities is an inspiring, informative read.

An essential guide for community builders

I’d recommend Building Brand Communities to any leader who wants to cultivate meaningful connection, whether you’re an executive, community manager, marketer, HR pro, or grassroots organizer. It’s especially valuable if you’re trying to figure out how to build community online. Even if you’re a community-building veteran, you’re bound to find helpful nuggets here.

In a world that seems increasingly fragmented, Building Brand Communities makes a compelling case that authentic community is the secret sauce to both individual and organizational success. As Vogl notes in the book’s preface, "May all of us who pick up these ideas teach the next generation to conquer the loneliness and disconnection of our time." This little book is an offering to do just that – to spread more connection, healing, generosity, love, safety and joy in a time that sorely needs it. And that’s something we could all use a bit more of.

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