Form Your Tribe: Beyond Branding | by Minh Huynh

This is a guest post from Minh Huynh who will be a panel member for Jam Session | branding edition on October 21st. Read on for a great piece on the philosophy of building a tribe, going beyond just basic branding and being human.


So you have your own business or perhaps you are taking over the marketing duties for one of your clients. Sure, your social media channels are moving along with several hundred or even a few thousand followers, but the growth has plateaued. Maybe your Instagram posts are getting one hundred or more likes, but they lack engagement and interaction from your audience. How do you get over the proverbial hump? It’s time to go beyond branding and start to build your tribe.

Over the past several years, I’ve grown several successful social media channels for my clients, as well as my personal work, and even my dog has quite an online following. I’ve experimented with every branding technique and worked with every platform and this is what works.


Social Tribes vs Social Networks

Social networks like Facebook and Instagram allow us to connect with each other. They are open-ended and free-flowing. They are great at allowing us to share our thoughts and ideas to the world, but in exchange for that freedom, social networks lack the focus for concerted action. Social tribes, on the other hand, are more than a collection of followers, but a community of individuals that elicit these powerful feelings:

  • Familiarity: “The tribe is like me.”
  • Participation and trust: “The tribe likes me.”
  • Power: “The tribe is bigger than me and can help me be a better me.”

The tribe is more than a collection of followers, like the old sitcom Cheers, is ‘a place where you feel like everybody knows your name.’ Be a tribe, not just a network.


“Be a tribe, not a just network.” twitter-bird-black


What’s The Big Idea?

To change your followers from passive viewers to active participants, you must tell them why. Why do you do what you do? This idea must be a rally cry to oppose preexisting concepts and mainstream notions. This is your ethos. Your raison d’etre.

One of my clients, T.U.K. Footwear, makes and sells shoes. As does hundreds, if not thousands of other shoe companies worldwide. So if the “what” is not special, let’s focus on the “why” in their mission statement. When creating social media content for T.U.K. Footwear, I focus on creating a sense of youth, anti-establishment and edge. This creates familiarity with the punks, goths and misfits and encourages participation and trust with the T.U.K. tribe.



A Pow Wow of Words

Being a part of a tribe should give you a sense of belonging. Indigenous tribe members routinely gather and share ideas through their own dialect. Create this space and verbiage for your own social tribes.

My little dog is named Nella and her Instagram account is @NellaFrenchie. At the time of this writing, she has more than 13,000 followers. Through the online persona I’ve given her, I post one photo a day for the past 2 years. These photos are often accompanied with a silly caption in a lolcat inspired vocabulary. At roughly the same time every day, like clockwork, her followers will like and comment and tag their friends in her photos. They have come to expect their daily dose of Nella and often will comment in the silly language I’ve created for her.



Be consistent with your posts to create a sense of ritual and create a distinctive language to produce a sense of membership.


Did you dig this? If so, join us for Jam Session where we will be discussing building a tribe and more branding topics. Ask Minh your questions and meet other like-minded creative entrepreneurs. Get all the details here!



More on Minh:

Minh Huynh, Director of Photography

Minh Huynh weaves together the art and science of marketing with unconventional cultural strategies and his natural eye for photography. His portfolio of fashion clients include: TUK Footwear, San Diego Fashion Week and La Jolla Fashion Film Festival, to name a few. Currently, he’s focused on building his clothing line and his ad agency. Follow his dog @nellafrenchie or him @mahalstyle on Instagram.

Connect + Follow: Website, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment *

© Copyright AWILDE CO. 2016. Powered by WordPress. Logo Design by Bee Huff.