Corporate Eye

Mozilla’s Firefox as a Relationship Brand

This week, I’ve been talking about relationship branding (see “Creating a Relationship Brand” and “The Path to Creating a Relationship Brand“) and relationship brands such as Apple, Macintosh and Harley Davidson. Today, I’d like to focus on another relationship brand that has been in the news a lot lately – Mozilla’s Firefox.

Firefox is a web browser that has drawn a huge amount of online buzz over the past few years. While Microsoft’s Internet Explorer remains the market leader, Mozilla’s Firefox has taken a comfortable chunk out of Internet Explorer’s market share. The secret to Firefox’s success – allowing people to experience the brand then band together as the “cool group” that uses Firefox instead of the behemoth, Microsoft’s, product. Sounds similar to how Mac became a relationship brand, doesn’t it?

Slowly but surely, the word spread about Firefox and more and more people have been making the switch to find out what the buzz is about and what they’re missing out on. Now, the world is made up of people who have made the switch to Firefox and those poor souls who still have not (at least that’s what Firefox users believe).

With the upcoming launch of Firefox 3.0, Mozilla’s public relations team is betting on the strength of its relationship brand and asking its customers to help break the Guinness World Record for the largest number of software downloads on a single day when Firefox 3.0 is released. Already, nearly 200,000 people have pledged to help Mozilla in its quest to earn its coolest title yet – Guinness World Record Holder.

The word-of-mouth marketing behind the Firefox brand helped drive its market share and turned it into a perfect example of a relationship brand. As I’ve written before here on Corporate Eye, relationship brand strategies work very well for market followers such as Mozilla’s Firefox, but they don’t happen overnight. It takes time to allow a relationship brand to develop at the hands of consumers. As marketers, we can help the process along by nurturing it and maintaining the buzz, but ultimately, it’s consumers who will band together to push a brand to relationship status.

So which camp do you belong to – IE or Firefox?


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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.

over 600,000 had pledged by the time this post hit my feed reader :-)

600,000, wow! Sounds like Mozilla is well on their way to breaking the record!

Interesting piece.

Let me tell you I was in love with everything Microsoft till about 6 years ago, I would resolutely ward off Microsoft nay-sayers like those cringy&crazy Mac fans and embrace with love the not so good-looking MS products. But my relationship with Microsoft changed when they failed to match up to the competitive offerings like Gmail and Firefox. I even stuck to IE for a while thinking MS would somehow manage to make it better (and they did do so in the past..remember Netscape)

But nothing for a long time, I felt betrayed by Microsoft, they have failed me again and again. I don’t know if I would go back to MS even if they have a better offering.

Moral of the Story: Make steps to ensure continuing relationship with the brand by meeting user expectations, they won’t hang around forever.

I guess analysis on this topic would make for another post :)

Sachendra, Thanks for another great post idea! You’re example is perfect and really demonstrates how branding is so reliant on developing then continuing to meet customer expectations. Look out for a post about this coming soon!

And now it’s over 1,000,000 pledges.

Very cool! Thanks for the update, Asa.

We’ll see next Tuesday, when Firefox 3 is released, how effective our community mobilizes to set this record.

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