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Brand communities

Over at we are social, Nathan McDonald has been allowed to reproduce a piece he wrote on Brand Communities for Contagious Magazine. He says that ideas from these brand communities ‘can contribute to the evolution and innovation of products or simply be a way to test new features, flavours or functionality’.

It’s an interesting area – extremely interesting. The question is, where will the this stop? It’s unlikely we’ll reach a point when brand (or product) communities take over the direction and development of the brand (or product). Brand development is of course different to product development and whilst the latter can involve communities heavily, the former has more complexity.

But they are the ultimate brand ambassadors, the users, the consumers, the people that live that brand that companies spend so much money trying to research and understand.

With so much unregulated power being passed back to the communities, that will only (you’d think) become more powerful with time, what’s next? Companies must be listening  (they always have been) but they’re getting them more listening posts (see what I did there?). They can’t control what gets written, what videos get made, what ideas get the most support, but they can use them.

In the long run, correctly harnessed, could this actually save companies money by reducing the need to invest in long term innovation and ideation programmes?

How much control can, should or will be given?