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Talk This Way

June 27, 2014

Social media has turned the brand-consumer relationship completely on its head over the past few years. As Twitter and Facebook reached critical mass, consumers discovered they finally had the most effective way of providing feedback (read: complaining) about their experiences with different brands and connecting with like-minded people on the matter.

For every brand on the planet, social media is still a political minefield. But what constitutes the right fan usage of a brand? Should brands aim to control this?

One of the most recent faux pas made by global brands was IKEA’s Cease and Desist notice issued to the fan blogIKEAhackers.net. A move which angered many fans of both the brand and the DIY blog when it was publicised on popular news and technology site gizmodo.com.

This same passionate defence could just have easily been used to IKEA’s advantage, had they handled it the right way.

“Your best defence is to have a connected group of very passionate supporters,” says Jill Avery, a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School, in a recent Working Knowledge blog post

In fact, Avery even talks about the concept of “open source branding” where consumers take ownership of the brand by championing it, and even, recreating it. Which you would think is exactly what IKEAhackers pseudonym-named Jules Yap has done.

Fans were quick to suggest IKEA would have been far better off in affiliating the website with the brand officially, or even offering Yap a role with the company.

IKEA released the following statement following Gizmodo’s post on the matter.

“We very much appreciate the interest in our products and the fact that there are people around the world that love our products as much as we do. At the same time we have a great responsibility for our customers, they should always be able to trust the IKEA brand.”

There’s always going to be a fine line between what constitutes the right way to protect brands, usually dictated by copyright lawyers, and the best way to create brand loyalty and a sense of community.

As mentioned by Harvard Business School’s blog post, brand Goliaths Coca-Cola and Nutella went the way of social media. Their Facebook fan pages were created by just that, fans, and the brands let it remain so. They now capture an audience of over 80 million and 23 million likes respectively.

Those passionate fans are the same ones who will be the first to defend a brand’s reputation, when slated by other consumers.

Businesses like IKEA do have a responsibility, with their particular product lines, to make sure their customers furnish their homes in as safe a way as possible, which doesn’t lend itself well to a hacked Billy bookshelf with the potential to fall on top of you.

Does that mean shutting down IKEAhackers was the right thing to do in this case? We don’t think so, but we’ll let you decide.


We are excited to announce that Sine Qua Non (SQN) has joined rEvolution, bringing SQN’s technology and communications prowess to rEvolution, the global, integrated sports marketing agency. Together, we will continue to grow as one team to deliver best-in-class integrated marketing services for our clients.

We put people first, challenge personal effectiveness, and act as change agents on a unified team. We share these values now and moving forward. In this next chapter we will scale our skillsets and expertise together to make an increasingly significant impact in the industry.

Please visit http://www.revolutionworld.com to learn more about rEvolution’s capabilities and culture.

This is an exciting time for everyone on our collective team, and we look forward to continuing our work with you.

John Rowady
CEO & Founder, rEvolution

Claire Ritchie
CEO & Founder, SQN

Chris Ritchie
Director & COO, SQN