Whether through tech, music or fashion, creating a brand people resonate with starts with community. The power of building an engaged like-minded following creates lasting impact; not just for the brand, but for your community as well. To explore exactly how to do this, our latest Today at Apple event saw EJDER Founder Simon Suphandagli and Brand Creative Jamel Alatise take to the stage in Apple’s Regent Street flagship. To new faces and members of the EJDER community alike, he revealed how the brand elevated itself from streetwear retailer to a youth-culture-led community of creatives. Here are his tips for a brand looking to create a similar impact:
Find your identity.
Having a strong and authentic message is key to telling your brand’s story. For Simon, it was his previous career in youth work that provided the strong foundation EJDER was built on. Seven years later, and the streetwear label’s youth-focused approach still centres on championing individuals and their art at high-end events such as London Fashion Week. It’s an authentic and important purpose and one that’s seen support from the similarly-minded Virgil Abloh and Octavian. According to Simon, once you’ve found your purpose, it needs to be communicated across all your brand touchpoints: “You need to find your identity and your language,” said Simon, “and then find a way to communicate it. We do it through everything we do, but most importantly through every bit of content.”
It’s one thing to have a purpose behind your brand, but bringing it to life through a physical space gives your community somewhere tangible to meet-up, create and interact with your brand. Simon recounted the first EJDER pop-up he ever opened and recalled seeing a line down the street when he came to open up on the first morning; proving first-hand how a physical hub empowered his community in real life. And this doesn’t have to cost the earth; looking back on their highly successful Soho space, Simon revealed how their store only cost £250 to pull together. “We didn’t have big budgets,” recalled Simon, “but it was still an amazing place to build contacts and share work.”
Bring the energy.
So you have your space; it looks the part and it offers the opportunity for your community to interact with your brand, but how do you get people through the doors? The answer: bring your brand to life through events that involve your whole community. “Don’t limit yourself to just being a store.” said Simon, “Use it out of hours, the space is yours.” When they got their hands on their Old Street space, EJDER did just that. From hosting parties to featuring rising artists to hosting a photoshoot for a Parisian rap group; EJDER did everything they could to use their space and elevate the achievements of their community. It worked, welcoming the EJDER community inside the space left a lasting impact on everyone who was involved, something Simon said he still experienced to this day: “Even years from that time, people still come up to me to say thank you for the EJDER party.”
Work, work, work (and then work some more).
From opening the doors at 6am for a video shoot to locking up at midnight after a late-night party; there’s no denying that creating a community around your brand (and earning their loyalty) requires you to put the work in. You can’t click your fingers and materialise a loyal fanbase for your brand out of thin air. People value authenticity more than anything and will recognise hard work when it matters, especially a Gen Z audience. As Simon put it: “When people visited the store, they connected with the blood sweat and tears of everything we were doing. Authenticity is so important.”
If you have an idea you want to bring to life, enter our Space for Ideas competition for a chance to win a free store, designed for you.