Here at the UST MBA program, we take pride in the education we provide being relevant, with theory meeting practice. For brands, being relevant has always been the issue—for better or for worse. In Forbes article, “Four Ways Brands Can Build Better Relationships,” JP LaFors gives four basic transformations that are happening in brand-customer relationships, along with examples of firms that have accomplished it well.

It is no news to anyone in business that the relationship between brands and consumers are shifting from transactional to interactional, and shifting rather quickly. People are demanding more than just a product or service, and it is now almost expected from consumers that brands connect on a more personal level.

In a world where are constantly interacting with others through email, social media, and many other grand things that smartphones provide (such as Words with Friends or Draw Something), a company’s brand will fall behind if they do not understand these shifts occurring in how  consumers interact with their brands.

The most interesting example that LaFors gives is what a B-to-B ice machine company, Scotsman, did to use a shift in the brand-consumer relationship from marketing-led interaction to user-led demand for their advantage: LuvtheNug.com. It’s a website for people who love chewable ice. Apparently, people feel passionate enough about their chewable ice and have their own nation: the Nugget Nation. On the website, you can find: places that have the chewable ice, demand it in locations you want them, recipes, posters, ecards, etc. By doing so, Scotsman can decrease the buyer power of the retailers and distributors and increased their own supplier power as the consumers—those who have joined the Nug Nation—demand their product.

Embracing the interactive nature of consumers will keep the brand’s relationship with them going. Brands also have to stay humanly relevant with their consumers, if they want to thrive in this era. Are you on your consumer’s list of relationships to keep, or to end?