Several thousand eons ago I posted about advertising becoming a form of self-expression. (It was actually in 2007 but eons sounds so much more dramatic.) The premise is that with the rise of Gen Y and their love for brands, that people would begin to display “unpaid” ads on their sites to show their support for specific companies. The ads featured down the right hand side of this site are just that.
Lately I’ve seen a lot of conversation about brand communities; some questioning whether they exist. Rest assured, these communities exist and some examples are Harley Davidson and Legos. The key to brand communities is the experience that those brands provide. In that way they’re much like niche social networks with the product as the social object that binds those people together. The primary difference between a niche social network and a brand community is that a niche social network is not tied to one brand. I’m interested to see which grows more quickly.
I recently saw a business that’s tapping into both the concept of advertising as self-expression, brand communities and a touch of niche social network. The site is called MyBrandz and has a great interface. They allow you to choose the brands you love from those they represent and request additional brands. Someone actually requested Block Buster Video (aka Lack Luster Video)??!??!!? NO WAY!! (They’ve recently experienced a spike in traffic.) MyBrandz does have some of my more favorite brands and for some reason they limit you in how many brands you can select. It also seems like they need a way to let people show which brands they like more. Not sure why either limitations are in place . . .
They also have a brand map which displays where your predilection lies in the overall brand landscape. You also post (text, video, etc) and share your posts via Twitter. If you’re the biggest fan you can be rewarded with stock in that company. Curious to see where this goes . . .