Go-to Brand Spotlight: Reddit

Fostering connection and progress through “brilliantly absurd” communities

Please enable cookies to view this video

“Everybody needs to feel like they belong somewhere, and sometimes you just don’t have access to that in your physical proximity. On Reddit, though, you can find that connection and that community. You can find your people.”

Roxy Young, Reddit CMO

The need for community, belonging, and empowerment—that’s what Reddit built its brand around.

That purposeful core is one of the key reasons they’ve become a Go-to Brand for countless of r/Parents and r/Writers and r/Gamers, followers of everything from r/Formula1 to r/Buddhism, and those who just want to share something that r/MadeMeSmile.

“Reddit is not ours,” Roxy continued, “it’s theirs.” It’s a brand, literally, built by the community: users start and create their own “subreddits” centered around something they’re passionate about, and Reddit’s role is to give that passion a platform. 

Becoming a “go-to brand” is about (1) fostering connection and (2) enabling progress. Reddit brilliantly embeds both connection and progress into its platform, and there’s a lot we can all learn from their path to “go-to” status.

Fostering Connection

01 | An experience inherently “true to me”

At the heart of Reddit's brand experience is a deceptively simple yet powerful interaction: the competitive comment. With a mere +1 or -1, users shape the platform's content hierarchy, turning participation into a game that drives all else. This unassuming feature is the lynchpin of Reddit's growth strategy, spurring behaviors that breathe life, newness, engagement, and culture into the platform.

Reddit's signature interaction is a masterstroke of gamification, turning passive consumption into active participation with a single tap. And let’s not forget its data-generating power. Each vote feeds into Reddit's algorithms, allowing the platform to surface the most engaging content. It perpetuates a virtuous cycle of growth: the more users interact, the better the platform understands their preferences, leading to a more personalized, sticky experience. This system, despite its simplicity, is one of the most crucial assets of the Reddit experience, and to drive growth and relevance, every brand needs its own. 

02 | A clear personality that forms a human connection

As Lippincott research has shown, authentic customer connections are essential to becoming “go-to.” Go-to Brands know their audience and they know themselves. They share customers’ values, reflect their aspirations, and form deeply personal connections that cause customers to exclaim (or at least agree with on a survey): “I love this brand.” 

A key variable in this pursuit is celebrating your brand’s distinct personality and figuring out how it fits seamlessly into the customer’s life. Reddit has worked hard to craft a distinct personality that they define as, “Candid, Eclectic, Self-Aware, and Brilliantly Absurd.”

“A key variable in this pursuit is celebrating your brand’s distinct personality and figuring out how it fits seamlessly into the customer’s life. ”

That personality is on full display anytime the brand shows up. An example: How would Reddit “get out the vote”? It’s a fairly traditional message. What could make it uniquely Reddit? 

What if it starred a banana? 

To explain: In the vernacular of Redditors, that “+1” discussed above is called an “upvote.” When working on the aptly titled “Up the Vote” campaign, the Reddit marketing team went on the hunt for the most “absurd” but democratically popular posts. And they found a banana that once got 146,000 “upvotes.” 

“We wanted to spread the message, ‘If you can vote on Reddit, you can vote in the real world,’” Roxy told us. 

Leaning into their authentically absurd humor and playing with the unique vernacular of the platform, Reddit’s “Up The Vote” initiative was true to the brand while also expanding what it stood for in customers’ minds.

03 | Authentic partnerships that maintain brand values

On a platform that has its own language, its own rules of engagement, and such a unique character—how can brand partners participate in a way that doesn’t shatter the authentic connection? 

Reddit makes a suggestion: co-create. “This is the most human place on the internet,” the brand tells advertisers. So if you’re looking to connect, don’t just push out your message. Contribute to the community, become a part of it, be creative while conforming to the expectations of the platform. 

Volvo did this to great effect with its partnership with Reddit. Volvo, of course, has one of the clearest brands in the car industry. They stand for safety. But how do you bring that message to Reddit in a way that authentically connects? 

Instead of pushing out a safety message, Volvo started a conversation, inviting users to share their own safety experiences, accident stories, and input on what would make cars safer. Volvo then shared its ideas and advancements, and the dialogue fostered a deeper connection than any safety ad could. 

It’s a fitting example of Reddit working hard to ensure its channel feels authentically Reddit, even when others are talking. 

Enabling Progress

01 | Helping customers feel part of something bigger than themselves

From Parenting to Pets to Plants, Cars to Cartoons, there’s a community for anyone on Reddit. Connecting meaningfully to others with similar goals and interests is the point of the platform—but Reddit doesn’t just wait for it to happen. 

For example, Reddit wasn’t traditionally the place for reality TV fandom. But why not? It’s a platform purpose-built for sharing opinions and rehashing big events, so Reddit saw an opportunity to build awareness and help fans connect with each other. They sponsored “Love Island” and positioned Reddit as “the official fan community” for show discussions. It turned an isolated experience into a communal activity and doubled the number of reality TV fans engaging with the platform—who could then find all the other ways Reddit can help “advance my world.”

02 | Helping customers make progress in ways they otherwise couldn’t

Reddit also blends the best of user-generated content with the access of a giant brand. 

Most famously, their popular “AMA / Ask Me Anything” gives communities access to big thinkers and bold doers, from the Commander-in-Chief to a line cook at Applebee’s, and they do so in a uniquely Reddit way, with the rawness of an internet forum and the authenticity of a platform built for human connection. 

03 | A product that works like magic

A person could grow old trying to “stump” Reddit. The platform just works, in a nearly magical way. Case-in-point: recently, a Lippincott partner was on the road, and a bizarre thing was happening with one of his reusable travel containers. It was growing fuzz. Confused by the obscure science experiment happening in his otherwise spotless dopp kit, he turned to Reddit. Lo and behold, there was a Reddit thread about it! The core product experience truly lives up the brand promise of progress. 

Reddit’s path to “go-to” status is a story of fostering connection through authenticity and participation, and enabling progress through access and dialogue.


  • Can you brand a “behavior” that leans into customer participation? An experience model that relies on customer input, like Reddit’s +1/-1, inherently builds connection and becomes an incubation tank for innovation, because customers are constantly looking for ways to build off that modality.  
  • Can you look for opportunities to show up in customer culture in an authentic way, like Reddit did with “Up the Vote”? 
  • Can you collaborate with your customers and your partners to find new ways to turn experiences into conversations, like Reddit did with Volvo and its car community?  
  • Can you introduce your purpose to customers who don’t yet know you, like Reddit did with Love Island fans? 
  • Can you empower customers to help each other make progress? Even if it’s just to resolve the mystery of a fuzzy toiletry.   
  • What does your brand really stand for, and can you find opportunities to use that definition to form authentic connections with like-minded customers? 


We look forward to continuing this series, sharing more wisdom from conversations with go-to brands. In the meantime, explore Lippincott’s “Go-to Brands” resources for more principles in driving business growth and resilience by creating meaning for customers.


All photos courtesy of Reddit.