The Uninvited Brand

41 Pages Posted: 22 Nov 2011

See all articles by Susan Fournier

Susan Fournier

Boston University

Jill Avery

Harvard Business School

Date Written: October 1, 2010


Brands rushed into social media, viewing social networks, video sharing, online communities, and micro-blogging sites as the panacea to diminishing returns for traditional brand building routes. But, as more branding activity moves to the web, marketers are confronted with the stark realization that social media was made for people, not for brands. In this paper, we explore the emergent cultural landscape of open source branding, and identify marketing strategies directed at the hunt for consumer engagement on the people’s web. These strategies present a paradox, for to gain coveted resonance, the brand must relinquish control. We discuss how web-based power struggles between marketer and consumer brand authors challenge accepted branding truths and paradigms: where short-term brands can trump long-term icons, where marketing looks more like public relations, where brand building gives way to brand protection, and brand value is driven by risk, not returns.

Keywords: marketing, branding, open source branding, consumer engagement

Suggested Citation

Fournier, Susan and Avery, Jill J., The Uninvited Brand (October 1, 2010). Boston University School of Management Research Paper No. 2010-32, Available at SSRN: or

Susan Fournier (Contact Author)

Boston University ( email )

595 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States
617 353 2773 (Phone)

Jill J. Avery

Harvard Business School ( email )

Cambridge, MA
United States
6174958084 (Phone)

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