Brand tribalism —
Brands need to stop acting like a company and start behaving like a movement

Tribalism is the most powerful force at the heart of brands. Central to the fabric of brand tribes is a deep conviction as to the notion of truth, rightness and belief. All brands create tribes in that they identify with lifestyle, groups, community and cultures.

Brands are principally about emotions, which connect with memory, self-image, dreams and aspirations. All brands create tribes, and if you want to understand your brand you need to connect with customer emotions in the category and consider how these emotions could change.

Building the next generation of tribes in the digital age is forcing enormous change - from hype and spin, to information and authenticity. Brands are rising and falling online based on the comments of strangers, which are often believed more than business’ own marketing copy or corporate website.

Traditional media is losing audience and saturation advertising is less effective and now more difficult to organise. Many global advertising agencies are struggling to keep pace.

Most people will trust a blog comment about your product or a YouTube video more than any amount of information you send out as a company.

As a result of social networking using new media we have developed a highly skeptical view of media hype. Within seconds of your message being noticed potential customers can run your product or service into the ground, quickly gathering arms length opinions through Google search and others.

Many will be looking for the tribe they feel they belong to, who will, by association endorse your product, allowing them to confirm their decision at arm’s length.

The speed at which these opinions are formed is now phenomenal. In America Neilson reports that while watching TV 60% to 70% of people are surfing the web, 29% talk on the phone and 26% are texting or sending IMS.

Our 21st century society is a network of micro-cultures or tribes. The trick is that they are formed organically and voluntarily through individual identification with the brand. Three major factors contribute to the formation of a unique tribe: brand authenticity, experiences felt through interaction, and a collective sense of belonging.