Brands and Web 2.0: Brand Communities


Because of the discussion during the last class about how can you promote a brand via Web 2.0 and what kind of platform would you choose: Facebook or Twitter. But because the result of the discussion in class was that a mix between YouTube and Facebook could be the best solution to market a brand via social media.

Therefore I would like to have your opinion on brand communities. Which are communities in which “brand-fans” can get in touch with other fans of a certain brand. In this community they can share stories, idea’s and news about their brand but they can also give their thoughts about the mistakes and failures of their “favorite brand”. So a brand community has its pros and cons.

For example the Danish brand of LEGO saw that a huge chunk of their revenues (34 million Euro’s) didn’t came from the children of their parents but from creative adults that didn’t see LEGO as a toy but as creative building materials.

In 2005 LEGO created a very unusual and expensive LEGO product (at that time): the Imperial Star Destroyer: http://www.brickset.com/detail/?Set=10030-1.  It costed over 200 euro’s and existed out of 3104 pieces. So it hadn’t a good fit with their core target market: young children or their parents.

But it was sold-out worldwide within hours and it is among the most popular LEGO products of all time.

Why?

Because LEGO has a really active but unofficial community founded by the Adult Fans of LEGO (AFOL’s) and are united in their own webpage:

http://www.lugnet.com/

I think that especially for a brand like LEGO a brand community is a good way to express and activate their brand. Because their customers get really involved in the brand, but also they get in touch with each other. They also get the feeling that they are part of a community and that they are connected with people with the same lifestyle. Even if they don’t know these people.

Lego energized this community by creating Lego Ambassadors. These Ambassadors represent the company to LUGNET by receiving information on products coming out. They represent LUGNET to the company by relaying member’s desires and opinions to the Lego company. They are paid in Lego bricks and competition is fierce among the AFOLs to become one of the 25 ambassadors. Lego has taken a vibrant set of customers and energized it further.

Do you think that a brand community is a good way of helping a brand and should a company reward people in a brand community, even if they spread a bad word of mouth in their community, or should a brand try to get the bad word of mouth shut?

By Erwin Westveer

2 thoughts on “Brands and Web 2.0: Brand Communities”

  1. I think this is an interesting blog. We often talk about the benefits of communities like people have the feeling they áre part of a group, they can share their experiences, they can positively influence other customers etc. In the example of Lego, the company even found out that they have another important customer group besides young children. But as this blog points out, there are also possible downsides of communities like the spread of negative mouth (like also in the example of Natali with the guitare song on youtube for american airlines). I think communities are still a good way of helping a brand because the company will try even harder to avoid any negative reactions. In this way, they can still benefit from the advantages of communities. As we also learned in Customer Relationship Management, another issue of any negative word of mouth is to come up with a good solution for the problem. In this way, the company is able to show all customers that it deals well with problems so it does not have to be a real problem. It gives the company the opportunity to solve the problem with the customer while showing all other customers that the company has a very good customer service.

  2. Thanks Erwin (and Larissa),

    I think that chances are low that within a brand community, bad word of mouth is being spread. However, if that happens, it is for a reason. In the afternoon group, there was a mini case example of Jones Soda, that when they canceled an annual ritual (Halloween version of the product), brand community members reacted. That gives to the company some direction for the future. These people are the sales that most likely you can take for granted. So, you need to stick to their voices!!

    On the other side, if bad word of mouth is spread, then it is crucial that you confront it instead of ignore it. A customer with a solved problem some times is even for positive towards the company than a customer with no problem at all..

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