How To Build Your Business By Creating A Tribe – Just Like The Football Clubs.

30th April 2015

Posted In: The Topic
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Football fans – they can get pretty passionate about their team. Mention a rival team and they will have you for breakfast. It is as if, when it comes to football, they go into a primal mode of tribal warfare.

Wouldn’t it be great if your customers felt as passionately about your business, if they’d tell everyone about you and if they’d defend you to the ends of the earth?

Words: Dominic Kitchen

Humans are tribal. We have an innate desire to belong to something. It is within our DNA. Although we no longer live in isolated tribes, fighting our neighbours, it doesn’t mean we aren’t tribal. Today, in the West, we create an identity for ourselves through the businesses we align ourselves with.

Creating a tribal loyalty comes from the branding. Nations created national flags and anthems to bring their tribe together and give them an identity. The flags of the big brands these days are their logos – helping fellow members of the tribe recognise each other and tell the world which tribe they belong to.

Large corporations use branding to identify themselves from their competition, e.g. Coke vs. Pepsi, Apple vs. Microsoft, BMV vs. Mercedes, Prada vs. Versace. No matter how advanced we are, who we give our allegiance to can tells our peers who we are and what we represent.


So what does branding have to do with creating a tribe?

Branding is like a flag. It helps the consumer declare to the world what they stand for. When in business, think to yourself “What does my brand stand for?” Is it a clear message?

Remember; the brand is a promise to the consumer. It is a promise of an expected experience. “Buy us and you will receive this.”

By making a promise you attract customers, by keeping that promise you create loyal fans.

A famous ad that comes to mind is the “I’m a Mac and I’m a PC” campaign from Apple in the mid 2000’s. This campaign was simple yet effective. The message was clear; use a PC and you are in for a major disappointment and frustration, use an Apple and begin creating your dream. What’s important is that Apple delivered on its brand promise and this is why we see so many Apple products today.

So it is imperative to make sure your business can deliver on its brand promise. If you have not purposely designed the whole customer journey and you don’t have measurements in place to see if those experiences are being delivered – you are at risk of losing custom to your competitors.

Let’s take Samsung. In order to compete with Apple in the mobile phone industry, Samsung decided to deliver a “bigger” phone. Samsung’s focus was on a particular feature of its product and for some months, it looked like this tactic had worked. However, those people that switched from Apple to Samsung began to head back to Apple. Why? It was simple; the Samsung was too complex to work. Many Apple users who had switched found the Samsung operating system user-unfriendly and problematic.

People returned to Apple in droves and Apple seized an opportunity; they saw the consumers’ demand for a bigger phone and then delivered it.

Research firm Consumer Intelligence Research Partners LLC (CIRP) reports at the end of Q4 2014 in the US that “86 percent of Apple customers upgraded from an older iPhone after the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were launched.” Furthermore “Samsung and LG saw far lower loyalty rates, with 25 percent of Samsung owners and 18 percent of LG owners who activated a phone in the quarter switching to an iPhone”. (Source:

Apple once again is leading the market. Samsung had focused solely on its features while Apple focused on the experience and tribe.

To create a tribe, the customer experience must be at the core of any business. It is through experiences that we learn, adapt and create a tribe. Experiences help us identify who we are, what we stand for and how we should do things. Branding helps us tell the world who the tribe is. It is like a national flag or national anthem – or a football strip. Branding without delivery is simply a lie. People will become discouraged and look for something better. Delivering the brand experience will ensure your business stands out.


Dominic Kitchin is an expert in business growth. He is founder of Saxonbury & Kent Ltd and The Science of and has over 15 years’ experience helping business leaders and owners dramatically grow their businesses by understanding why their customers buy from them. He helps them enhance company leadership to create a customer centric culture, increase top and bottom line growth, strengthen company management teams, create and protect business wealth, implements succession plans and transitions businesses to achieve a life balance. He has worked with multinational corporations and household brand names such as HSBC, KFC, Radisson Edwardian, ING, amongst others.