The open source browser Firefox has been rated alongside Google, Apple and Starbucks as one of the most powerful brands in the world in 2005, according to a study published on Monday.
Brandchannel.com, a Web site for marketing professionals run by global branding consultancy Interbrand, asked over 2500 readers during November and December which brands had the most impact on them that year. Firefox was voted as the eighth most influential brand worldwide in 2005 — the first time that a piece of open source software has featured in the top 10 list in the five years that the survey has been carried out.
Robin Rusch, the editor-in-chief of Brandchannel.com, admitted that the readers of his Web site are not average consumers, but claimed they are good at identifying influential brands before they go mainstream.
"While it's true that our readers appear at first glance to be easily lured by shiny design, innovative technology, coffee and booze, they should not be dismissed as a bunch of hyper-caffeinated gearheads. Year after year Brandchannel voters identify brands that the mainstream world eventually catches up with; impact is felt first by these early adopters," Rusch said in a statement.
Asa Dotzler, the community coordinator at the Mozilla Foundation, said the survey showed that its marketing campaigns around Firefox are working.
"One area that I think we've done a pretty good job of during the last two years has been the development of, and marketing of, the Firefox brand. Today we get another sign that our efforts in this area are bearing fruit," said Dotzler in his blog. "Firefox has moved into the top ten most influential brands in the world. Sitting at number eight, Firefox bests eBay and Sony. Not bad :-) "
Although the Mozilla Foundation's marketing budget cannot compare to those of billion dollar corporations, it has capitalised on its large and enthusiastic user-base to carry out large scale community marketing campaigns, such as the publication of an advert for Firefox in the New York Times which was funded by community donations.
In an interview with ZDNet UK last year, Dotzler said that community marketing is more effective than corporate marketing because it's more believable.
"We have real people who wouldn't say something if our product wasn't good. It takes a lot of repetition with a banner ad online, or a jingle on the TV — they need to keep hammering it to make a sale. When it's your best friend or neighbour it doesn't take any hammering," he said.
The full results of the Brandchannel survey can be seen here.