Last week, I’d written about transparency in organisations, and touched upon something that’d force transparency on them – conversations about them. While conversations can happen on the organisation itself, I believe the brand will also act as a starting point in many conversations. A transparent organisation will transfer some positive equity to the brand and vice versa. What comes first is a good chicken-and-egg question. Whether they can exist independent of each other is also a good thought.

Since I have written on organisations, I’ll veer towards the brand this time. There is a good article here on what brands should consider before jumping into the ‘create communities’ game. But then, brand associations should never be restricted to communities, it can be as basic as listening in on conversations that happen not just on the brand itself, but the specific and generic categories it belongs to.  Moreover, communities don’t need to be very rigid in the way they operate. Check out Dell’s efforts here. The second half of this article also succeeds in conveying this fabulously. In a convenience driven, information overloaded consumer’s mind, it is difficult for the ‘four times a year’, ‘when we feel we have to communicate something’ TVC-print-outdoor campaign that many brands follow, to find a place.

So, what are brands doing? From small businesses that give ‘prewards‘, to FMCG giants that attempt buzz marketing, everything is being tried. Some succeed, and some are questioned. What the last link, Nike shows is that brands cannot escape now with lip service. They have to be true.

Which brings me to possibilities. Quite sometime back, I’d read this post about user generated advertising and product wikis, a sort of the brand’s lifestream, if you will. I found it a very refreshing thought, even thought Heekya (via Mashable) might be a good tool to start the journey, and was happy to read a tangential post  here. Please note that, though the second article uses ‘brandstreaming’ it is more to do with engaging the community through social media. Its still interesting though.

But the best read I saw on this subject would be this post by Chris Brogan. I think it offers a great way for brands to balance their ‘official’ presence online with all the user generated stuff that’s bound to exist. But I’d still say community building has to start at home, i.e. organisation.

until next time, start your brandstream..