Martin Seligman noted that psychologists traditionally identify and resolve problems . Little thought was given to using psychological principles to improving the quality of life for regular people.
Branded communities face the same problem. Too many are dedicated to resolving a clear product problem and too few to helping members beyond that.
Most examples of branded communities are little more than customer support channels. People with problems will go there to get help with a faulty product. They ask a question, receive an answer, and leave. A tiny number of experts answer the overwhelming majority of questions.
Members don't develop relationships with one another in these places.
FitBit's new community (managed by course graduate and friend, Allison Leahy) does a great job here. It separates the help forums from the genuine community forums.
You can get help with products if you like. But you can also share your story, fitness tips, or weight-loss advice.
If you want to turn your customer support base into a community, you need a strong common interest. You need to create the community around the product and not about the product. What role does that product play in the customer's life?
Sometimes that involves creating a new area (e.g. the product is naturally social). For many of us, it will involve a new and refined community concept.