One business that's navigated social messaging platform Discord better than most – and brought its community in on its inner workings – is Leisure Project, a drinks brand based in LA. Founded by Steve Michaelsen and his brother Alex, the product is described by Steve as ‘Gatorade for the creative community’. 

At the time of writing, the business has more than 1,600 members on Discord – people who are often highly engaged with what the brand is building and looking to get involved. There are channels dedicated to: sharing information and updates about the business and the team; sharing social media posts; answering questions about the product itself; sharing playlists and fan art; and getting feedback and suggestions on new products and projects. In short, it all happens there. Here, Steve shares how Discord has helped the business grow.

How it started 

‘I've had a Discord account for at least a year and a half, [for servers] on a bunch of different topics, whether that's investing, gaming or NFTs [non-fungible tokens]. I use Slack in my day job, so it was a pretty natural transition for me to learn. We created this drink for creative people – our whole vision was that if we want to build the brand for the creative community we have to co-create it with them. Discord has its faults, but it's kind of the de facto channel for this type of communication.’

Why it works 

‘What we get with our Discord is genuine conversation and interest in what we're building as a beverage brand and how we're building it. A good amount of the people that have been with us since we [launched] understand that what we're building is a beverage brand that we plan to be around for the next 10 years or so. How a brand manifests digitally [and] physically is all the same thing. It's all about empowering people and giving them the tools and resources they need to be their most creative self.’

Tips for first-timers 

‘Learn how to make a Discord before you open [a server for your brand] and expect people to [use it], because it's not an easy tool to use. If you have money to hire someone, find someone who's good at it. I spent a couple months teaching myself before we started getting people in. You need to be able to play around. Listen to the community and observe where people are engaging and where they aren't.’ 

Brands getting creative with discord

• Software giant Adobe's Discord server allows its users to get critiques on their work and find commissions. 

• Digital fashion and NFT brand RTFKT has a Discord hub and has introduced meditation ‘zen sessions’ for its users to take part in – and regularly hosts design competitions.  

• Spotify Premium users can host group listening parties on Discord – voice chatting about the music they're currently playing.  

• Tapping into the direct engagement that Discord allows, street fashion brand Hypebeast hosts live chats and Q&As under its HYPETALKS vertical.

This article was first published in Courier issue 48, August/September 2022. To purchase the issue or become a subscriber, head to our webshop.

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