The Berrics Brand
Posted: 05/10/2011 Filed under: assignment, links | Tags: brand_assignment
The Berrics started out as a skateboard site in 2007, founded by pro-skaters Eric Koston and Steve Berra. Koston and Berra together owned a private indoor skatepark in Los Angeles, and came up with the idea to start a site devoted to skateboarding, for which content would be mostly filmed inside their skatepark. Within two years the site grew out to be the biggest skateboarding site on the internet, attracting more unique visitors than any other major skateboarding site out there, according to The Wall Street Journal. By then The Berrics had become a household name in skateboarding and therefore a brand as well, as they also sell lots of skateboard paraphernalia on the site, including clothing.
I have been following The Berrics on Twitter as well as Facebook for about two years now. The activity on both media is moderate, between one and three posts a day. The content is almost exactly the same for both media, except on Facebook I find it much easier to read comments on the content being shared.
Regarding interaction with consumers, there is absolutely none of it to be found on either social network. This probably has something to do with the fact that the front end of the brand consists of content generation in the form of videos about skateboarding in many different formats. This is still the brand’s main source of income, through advertisement on the site. Because hardly any of the content on this front end involves the products they sell in their webstore, the visitors, fans, or customers are not inclined to direct any negative feedback regarding physical products via the social networks. Instead, The Berrics have many different e-mail addresses on the site intended for customer service. I once had a brief correspondence with their customer service through one of these e-mail addresses regarding a product I had bought through the site, and the communication was very professional and forthcoming.
A reaction to criticism is also rare, but they can be seen from time to time. However these reactions also never come through the social networks. If a reaction is given, it usually happens in the videos posted on the site, since that is where the focus of the visitors lies. Usually Steve Berra will mention briefly, while filming for something else, that criticism has been received through “lots of e-mails”, and action is being taken. Sometimes there is only recognition of received criticism without the mention of any intent to respond.
Another form of response that is also used as content for the site is ‘E-mails of the week’, in which Steve Berra selects a dozen or so e-mails to which he has replied, and posts them as a screenshot slideshow on the site. This does in a sense bridge the gap between the brand and the consumers, as visitors of the site can see that there is a response and they can read exactly what that response was. Not all of these e-mails are a reaction to criticism, most of the e-mails that are shown consist of positive feedback. I would agree that in this format it would be better to put forth positive messages for the most part, only interrupted occasionally by a reaction to criticism, as not to give the impression that most of the feedback being received is negative while at the same time showing that criticism will receive a response.
My attitude towards the brand has not changed that much after following the brand through the social networks. It only enabled me to keep up with their new content more efficiently. However I do find it surprising that there is hardly any interaction from the brand itself, as opposed to just from the people behind the brand. I would expect better and more interaction from the brand itself would positively effect the connection between the brand and the public that follows it.