Tribes and Tribal Branding – Where Do We Go from Here?

  • Brendan Richardson


By now we have covered a range of different aspects of the tribal approach to branding. As just reiterated in Chapter 8, two of the most crucial elements in this as a philosophy are respect for the principle that brand meaning can be created outside the formal boundaries of the organization and respect for the tribe's freedom to engage in this meaning creation process on their own terms. Everything else, including all the potential benefits to the company, really does stem from respect for these two principles. This implies, as we've seen, that companies who wish to engage with tribes need to do so patiently and humbly. There is a need to approach tribes in a respectful rather than arrogant way, using the principles for cultural entrée as defined by Robert Kozinets1 and as explained in Chapter 3. There is a need to use the methods of ethno-marketing as outlined by Cova and Cova2 to firstly identify traces of tribal activity (which clearly are sometimes very obvious but sometimes less so) and then identify tribal linking value. There may be a need to participate and not just observe, in order to be accepted as a presence in the community and in order to more fully understand the basis for the tribe's sense of social connection. This is important if the marketer is to succeed in developing communications and designing products, events, Facebook pages and even Twitter feeds that are perceived as supportive of tribal linking value. And while we have looked at refreshing examples of cases where vibrant and passionate tribes have emerged and endured with little or no input or support from a tribal marketer, we've seen that it is more advisable to fulfil an ethno-marketing approach, so as to at the very least understand the tribe's passions on their own merits. This is absolutely preferable to the possibility of undermining tribal linking value through trying to enforce an overly defined brand narrative that doesn't facilitate the tribe's desire to do their own thing, to re-work brand narratives as they see fit. When there is at least some freedom to re-work brand narratives, the results can be spectacular.


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Copyright information

© Brendan Richardson 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brendan Richardson
    • 1
  1. 1.Lecturer in Marketing and Consumer BehaviourUniversity College CorkIreland

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