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What is a Brand Tribe, Brand Tribalism and Tribal Marketing?


When you consider the world of branding and marketing, building your brand tribe – a loyal client base – is one of the keys to success. One marketing strategy that has gained popularity in recent years is the idea of a brand tribe, brand tribalism and tribal marketing.


The Origins: Our Social Identities


The theory of brand tribes originates from the social identity and self-categorisation concepts established by social psychologists Henri Tajfel and John Turner in the 1970s. Their social identity theory states that your own self-image is partly defined by the social group or groups you consider yourself to be part of. Meaning the portion of one’s self-concept is partially obtained from one’s perceived membership in a social group. Now, let’s have a closer look at how this theory transitions to brand tribes and the marketing world.


What is a Brand Tribe?


A brand tribe is a group of people sharing a strong emotional connection to a brand. Individuals within a brand tribe not only purchase the brand’s products or services, but they also associate themselves with the brand’s values, notions, lifestyle, and community. The brand’s identity becomes part of their identity. Customers within a given brand’s tribe are willing to advocate for the brand itself, defend it against criticism, and even feel a sense of belonging and pride in being a part of the tribe. They are not only consumers of the product but also play a significant role in its promotion, advocacy and evangelism.


Culture that Resonates


Building a brand tribe requires more than just creating a quality product or launching a good service. It involves creating a culture around the brand that resonates with customers on a deeper level. 


Nowadays, successful companies are not just selling their products; they also create a notion and a vision of how consumers of the particular brand will relate to it once they own it. This can be achieved through storytelling, creating a sense of exclusivity, and cultivating a sense of shared identity among the brand’s clients.


Just do it


One example of a successful brand tribe is Nike’s loyal and steadfast customers. The sportswear giant has built a loyal and ever-expanding follower base of customers who wear their products and identify with the brand’s values of inspiration and determination. Nike has created a strong tribe culture around their brand by embracing emotionally evocative narratives and storytelling in their branding and marketing in the format of featuring inspirational stories of athletes, supporting diversity and emphasising the importance of pushing oneself to the limit. This has cultivated a community of individuals who feel a strong sense of connection to the brand and are willing to defend it against any naysayers. 


Think Different


Another brand that elevated brand tribalism to the next level is Apple. Many of the technology giant’s customers associate themselves with the brand’s values of innovation, simplicity, and design. Similarly to Nike, Apple has established a distinctive culture and devoted follower base associated with the brand. Multiple factors contributed to this loyalty – brilliant design, highly original products, intuitive user experience and, of course, highly creative marketing that created a sense of clearly defined and differentiated identity not only for the brand but also for its users. 


One element that needs to be mentioned as a vital driver of the almost fanatical loyalty of many Apple owners is the fact that Apple managed to create a perfect enemy, the PC and its users, and built that enemy into much of its marketing.




Psychographics over Demographics


In the 2020s, customer behaviours and tribes became more important than demographics. Although demographics remain crucial for marketing, incorporating psychographics can offer a more profound understanding of a brand’s audience and tribe. Integrating psychographics into branding and marketing strategy allows brands to develop personalised and impactful messaging, creatives, and campaigns that directly resonate with their target audience’s values and behaviours, therefore creating brand tribes.


Worldwide Brand Tribes


The internet and growing connectivity are accelerating the dissemination of information. This speed of sharing messaging worldwide has increased brand familiarity and the rise of global brand recognition and worldwide brand tribes. Trends or fads originating in one region can rapidly spread to other parts of the world. Due to this international and fast reach of brands, consumers now have greater opportunities to choose and try out a wider range of services and products. This ever-growing user experimentation leads to a greater influence of the different cultures worldwide, fostering a wider variety (and acceptance) of “norms” or conventions.


Brand Tribe = A Powerful Marketing Strategy


In conclusion, a brand tribe holds significant potential as a potent marketing tactic in evoking and increasing customer advocacy and brand recognition whilst allowing brands to foster deep, emotional connections with the users. 


However, it’s important to note that building a brand tribe isn’t always easy. It requires a deep understanding of your target audience and a commitment to creating a culture and identity around your brand. It also requires a willingness to listen to your customers and adapt your strategy based on their feedback.


Unlike traditional marketing approaches that solely focus on product features or demographics, brand tribes tap into the emotional and psychological aspects of consumer behaviour. By cultivating a sense of community and shared identity, brand tribes create an environment where customers not only purchase products but also become advocates and ambassadors. 


This level of loyalty and advocacy will translate into increased customer retention, organic brand promotion, and a sustainable competitive advantage. Brand tribes go beyond transactional relationships, fueling a sense of belonging and pride among customers who actively engage with the brand and its values. As a result, brands that successfully build and nurture their tribes can establish enduring connections, drive brand resonance, and create a dedicated customer base that can withstand market fluctuations and challenges.


We at Tribe of Brands can help you stay on top of trends to effectively navigate the complex waters of branding and marketing within the digital economy. Our agency can aid you with strategy and execution in the areas of branding, product development, website design, and digital marketing. Our marketing agency creates seamless user journeys from impression to conversion and delivers high-growth digital marketing campaigns and projects for a wide range of international brands.


Contact Us to Learn How


References to read:


“Tribal Marketing And The Need For A Radical Redefinition Of Brand” by Nikki Baird, Forbes >>>


“Social identity theory” by Wikipedia >>>


“Build Loyalty Like Apple: Define Your Enemy” by Roger Dooley, Forbes >>>





Anna Ferenczy -- Digital Transformation & Marketing Consultant -- Product & Advocacy Strategist -- Advisor @ Women in Tech -- Founder @ Tribe of Brands -- Founder @ Czyan

  • Roger

    Nice piece about branding and tribal marketing! Well done, guys & keep ’em coming! Roger

    July 12, 2023at5:11 pm
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  • Asoka

    This blog about brand tribes is like a treasure chest of insights. Thanks for bringing to life the world of consumer communities with such clarity. Great read!

    March 21, 2024at12:52 pm

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