The Effect of Online Brand Communities on the Alignment of Intended Brand Identity and Perceived Brand Image: A Study of Two Beauty Brands on Instagram

Jovi Wong & Johanne Pold Kristensen

Student thesis: Master thesis


The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of the phenomenon online brand community on the alignment of the concepts of brand identity and brand image. This was explored as a result of branding efforts moving from traditional channels towards digital platforms, such as social media, where especially Instagram was an interesting media to look at in the context of the beauty industry. The possibilities with Instagram laid mainly in the ease of finding and following brands, as well as the opportunities to engage with the brand and other consumers, and thereby facilitate an online brand community. Several beauty brands have already leveraged on this and by making use of this, brands would be able to attract loyal and dedicated consumers, who are engaged in the community. However, it appeared that beauty brands still viewed social media platforms as a one-way communication instead of taking advantage of the flowing communication between stakeholders that could result in alignment of the brand identity and brand image. The research was investigated through a qualitative, constructivist study with primary and secondary data findings to understand the phenomenon of an online brand community, what the intended brand identity of two beauty brands on Instagram were and lastly, what the perceived brand image was, and how it aligned with the intended brand identity. The research took its starting point in the literature which led to the foundation of the secondary and primary data collection. The secondary data was collected through information available to the researchers, while the primary data collection consisted of six semi-structured interviews with a purposive sampling of members of the two brands’ online brand communities. Lastly, this led to the conclusion that online brand communities are not effective in ensuring alignment between intended brand identity and perceived brand image for a beauty brand on Instagram. The study came to this conclusion, as there was no significant alignment in identity and image, which could potentially have stemmed from the discovery of an overall beauty community, rather than brand-specific ones. It could therefore not be determined that online brand communities were effective in ensuring alignment.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages137
SupervisorsAd de Jong