Bond or Brand: Presenting a Typology of Online Brand Communities in a Collectivistic Culture

Jungmin Han, Debbie Keeling, Stuart Roper

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Online Brand Communities (hereafter OBCs) can play a vital role in invigorating a brand, as illustrated by extant OBC studies in relation to marketing, sociology, psychology and information systems. However, the ongoing evolution of OBCs, particularly, enhanced through mobile technology, has led to increased diversification in the type and nature of OBCs. Concerns have been raised that the meaning of community in OBCs has become diluted (Fernback, 2007), especially as the ‘online’ characteristic of OBCs allows an attitude of “easy access, no responsibility.” On the other hand, Canniford (2011) argues that OBC subcultures can be intense and, importantly, revolve around a shared lifestyle rather than the brand. Indeed, Fournier and Lee (2009, p. 106) propose that ‘people are more interested in the social links that come from brand affiliations than they are in the brands themselves.’ This poses a difficult debate for OBC management; social bonds among participants are vital in maintaining the OBCs, yet this can be at odds with the initial rationale for initiating a brand community, i.e., brand promotion and brand value, with the very real potential for tension between community members and community managers. We contribute to this debate by presenting a framework for discussion of the possible synergistic and antagonistic relationships between community and brand value. This framework is in the form of a typology that recognises the evolution of OBCs in terms of their type and nature, focusing on the issues of brand value and community.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIdeas in Marketing: Finding the New and Polishing the Old
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 2013 Academy of Marketing Science (AMS) Annual Conference
EditorsKrzysztof Kubacki
PublisherSpringer, Cham
Number of pages4
ISBN (Electronic)9783319109510
ISBN (Print)9783319364711, 9783319109503
Publication statusPublished - 3 Nov 2014
Externally publishedYes
EventAcademy of Marketing Science (AMS) Annual Conference - Monterey, United States
Duration: 14 May 201318 May 2013

Publication series

NameDevelopments in Marketing Science: Proceedings of the Academy of Marketing Science
ISSN (Print)2363-6165
ISSN (Electronic)2363-6173


ConferenceAcademy of Marketing Science (AMS) Annual Conference
Abbreviated titleAMS 2013
Country/TerritoryUnited States


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