Forget Stories — Build Tribes

Dave Barton
March 12, 2020

I’ve never been a fan of the term ‘stories’ when it comes to advertising. Sure, an ad can have a plot; an arc; a structure. But a brand as a whole is more than just a narrative.

It’s a business entity — a set of people, practices, and products. Sometimes it makes sense to tell stories about a brand; but the brand itself is not the story.

Rather than focus on what they want to say; companies should look to build connections — tribes, basically: those with a shared perspective or purpose.

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In Cory Doctorow’s book ‘Eastern Standard Tribe’ online tribe members show their allegiance to a specific time-zone by syncing their circadian rhythms to it — even though they may be physically located in another part of the world. Cue a whole load of industrial espionage, double agenting, and 3 am car crashes.

Fictional this may be, it illustrates how, using the internet, we can be part of something bigger than what’s directly in front of us — in our everyday meatspace. We can participate and create entire identities out of choice rather than necessity.

Brands and companies can do exactly the same; they can find and grow their tribes by helping them to flourish with a common goal.

Why be merely be listened to when you can encourage others to actively participate in something bigger and more immersive?

You only need to look to the near-religious fervour that consumer brands like Nike, Coca Cola, Under Armour, and Apple are regarded with by their ‘followers’. Their messages transcend products; they are part of a wider drive to celebrate progress, essentially.

There’s no reason B2B brands can’t do the same.

Written by

Dave Barton

Creative copywriter with startup and blockchain savvy. Seduced by novelty. Nourished by variety. Sustained by irony.

Like what you see, huh? Let’s talk.