Why did the brands get so big on the internet? We all have finally a mechanism to deliver individually shaped products, communities and brand experiences while in fact we flock to the big brands: Google, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter Amazon, E-Bay and the ancillary Skype, Bitly and of course not to forget the Google owned Blogger.
The really remarkable thing is that these brands turned the whole advertising world onto its own arse!
The mega brands of the internet grew outside the old model of advertising awareness: of off line brand build and banner ad drift. Instead they snowballed by word of mouth ( or rather invitation often) , and peeping over each other's shoulders in the office or the playground. Then the BRANDS sucked in the advertising industry or rather the revenue.
The mold of trad' marketing was not just broken, but pulverised, melted down and recast into something no trad' marketeer would have spent time or money on fifteen years ago.
As I say, community oriented web brands have repeated themselves: google being the longest standing, the others like Facebook and Twitter, being essentially repeats of similar mechanisms for social communications and vanity-information display. I
The trad' mindset was that online brands would need to be built by offline brand building. Wrong, how very, very wrong that proved to be. It all went "viral" and WOM. However, one other big thing missing out in the old mind set in how to grow on line brands c 1998-2002, was the consumption part of branding. The true brand relationship, the personal brand equity of which the entire equity is the sum, is actually only consummated upon consummation, sorry consumption. It is only in the experience that you gain the satisfaction, the purchase confirmation comfort, the elation of spending too much.
Take a BMW driver, they need to not only drive a pretty good car but be seen to be driving the advert around: either as someone who knows their car, but more likely someone who wants to show they have made it up the management echelons or a bung on being self employed. They have actually (apart from the 1 series or a used M3 /M5) just spent far too much on getting from A to B on rather Teutonic seats. But everyone can see they have spent too much, sorry have earned it and can afford it. That is where the satisfaction comes in.
With facebook versus the earlier personal-home-pages, yahoo groups, and of course friends-reunited, the brand worked in consumption. It was a delicious free candy, with no-holds-barred for those who had a mutual need to get in touch with each other. No fee for connecting finally, no limit to how many connections. The candy remained delicious and "free", being payed for by Amazon and many, many wanna be brands. Then came more "personalisation", which meant holiday and loan ads in the side bar. Very unpersonal. Yes they know more about your profile, but purely to their benefit in getting a half a percent more percent response from a smaller group filtered for never-will-buys. Now FB is at a turning point with mobile content ad's "suggested likes" filling up our newsfeeds seemingly and repetitive invitations to quiz, dart and golf tours from the charming local pub we (once) Liked. Also more freinds are using social-network-marketing and massaging their posts between the two: personal touch on the branded "independent consultant/brand champion for brand X Cosmetics and smelly detritus" and linking out to said page on their personal pages.
I think two things are for sure; one FB will become more commerical and place income over personal freedom from spam. Two, there will be a new big, independent web brand which may somehow replace once again, an earlier epoch. My crystal ball says that this will be some form for video-audio communication coupled to a personal-posting page. So Skype meets FB and then some. Alternatively of course there could be a consolidation of the need to shop-at-best-price which so far has been largely a market place and not a "request for tender". There is a fragmented market, FB is in there in local used-buy and barter and "my tenders" for house work.
What ever comes next on the net, it is likely to follow the new model and be a tasty little fancy cake in the mouth of the consumer and grow exponentially on word-of-email and invitationss.