Here’s something that just makes sense: If you sell a particular product, why not foster a community of individuals who will want to use that product? People love to belong; you need to associate your brand with a sense of belonging.

Let’s talk about creating a digital community. It doesn’t mean that you have to build an apartment complex around your store, however. Take Apple, for example: When you use Apple products, you are automatically associated with a certain lifestyle; you expect to see people using an iPad at Starbucks and wearing clothes they picked up at Express. Apple enthusiasts generally seek high quality even if it means paying a little more. If you don’t find a way to associate your brand with a whole lifestyle, then you are selling it short.

So how is it done? Let’s start with the basic principles surrounding your brand. What values do you want to have associated with your products? Look at Google—they started as a search engine, but now they have produced an operating system, web browser and all sorts of digital devices. They simply created an ecosystem for using their original product. Why stop at having a search engine when you can sell someone a tablet with your own OS, as well as a browser for them to use your search engine on? And once they find products they like (books, apps, music), shouldn’t they buy that from you as well?

So how do you go about creating a little world for your brand? Start by thinking about the market you are already in and then consider the markets associated with it that you could branch into. Be sure to focus on creating an engaging experience for the user, making certain to connect your consumers with each other to build a sense of community among them. Make your products easy to use but still highly functional. While you may have to get out of your comfort zone, there are many new customers out there on the other side of those walls your company has built in order to feel safe.