Thursday, December 18, 2008

Brand as Tribal Leader

Can a brand lead people?

Tribes, from Seth Godin, talks about why and how people should lead a group passionate about something, anything. In short, a leader assumes the risks of satisfying an unmet set of needs.

I understand the intent of the book was individuals, not unlike Tom Peter's "Brand You" - but I started thinking about marketing's role in social media. If you can't (shouldn't) advertise then what do you do? Simply 'joining the conversation' or allowing customers to 'hijack a brand' and take control doesn't necessarily achieve a brand's objectives.

Tribes, by definition, need a leader - someone to take them somewhere. Why can't it be a brand? More specifically, can a brand take on the attributes of a leader?

The qualities of a leader (pg 126 of Tribes) are:
  • Leaders create a culture around their goal and involve others in that goal - thinking 'Pepsi Generation' or Fiskateers
  • Leaders have and extraordinary amount of curiosity about the world they're trying to change - thinking Patagonia
  • Leaders use charisma to attract and motivate followers - thinking Apple here and their stellar use of design (talk about charisma) or Harley Davidson's 'freedom'
  • Leaders commit to a vision and make decisions based on that commitment - thinking Geek Squad, Southwest, and Walmart
  • Leaders connect their followers to one another - thinking Being Girl from P&G, and Young and Free from credit union TDECU in Texas.
So, if you can't advertise - lead.

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