In-Depth Look at Branding and Social Media

Late last year, Dan Newman of the Wanganui (New Zealand) School of Design submitted his Master's thesis on the subject of "Malleable Branding: Realising the Potential of Online Social Networks and User Generated Content" (PDF, 92 pages). It's not a lightweight read (which is appropriate given its original context), but it does provide a lot of solid background into the effect social media has had on branding in recent years. Here's the abstract:
The emergence of new technologies alongside the change in consumer behaviour (specifically their use of online social networks and newfound creative ability) has led to advances in how consumers interact with brands. These advances will require a new strategy on how existing and future brands will be managed, advertised and designed. Future identity designers, marketers, advertisers, brand strategists and business leaders will need to understand these changes and why countless brands have a lack of malleability. Brands that lack such malleability will struggle to create or maintain brand awareness in a new consumer market driven by revolutionary technology. Without realising the potential of online social networks and user generated content, existing brands will fail to move into the 'conceptual age', where malleability will be vital in their success.