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Browsing by Subject "customer communities"

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  • Sipilä, Arlinda (2020)
    Corporate communications and management have had for a long time the conviction that they could project a specific brand identity by communicating a strong vision. Today this view is being challenged, especially with the rise of social media, which has brought more visibility to customer communities and has enabled better tools for customers to communicate with each other instantly, anywhere in the world. People interacting with each other in their communities give an identity to the brands, a collective identity that can be different from the one that corporate communications try to project. It is, therefore, necessary for the brands to understand how customers collectively impact brand identity. The concepts of top-down brand identity models do not work very well in today’s interconnected world. With that in mind, this thesis looks at a bottom-up approach to the brand identity model. It aims to bring further attention to the impact that brand communities have on brand identity. Through a model for collective brand identity, the objective is to make it easier for brands to see their brand identity from a customers’ perspective and enable them to envision their future collective identities. This thesis is conducted as qualitative research including a model, case studies and interviews looking into the brand identity as a collective construction. It initially looks into existing research on collective identity in general as well as in brands. Then, it discusses existing models for brand identity and social movements. Based on the insight from the literature, this study attempts to formulate a model for collective brand identity. It uses the case studies as illustrations and proof of concept for the model. Lastly, four in-depth interviews are conducted to explore further how the model can be applied in real-life in order to study and categorise brands based on their collective identity. This research identifies four main types of collective identity in brands based on the community characteristics and personal sense of belonging, which is, how individual identities relate to that of the brand. These brand types are Influencer, Collaborative, Collective and Outlier. In general, the more collective the brand communities are, the more substantial impact they have on the band’s identity and the higher the sense of belonging to their communities, the more loyal customers they are.