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The Unified Identity of a Tribe - How Brands Create Evangelists

By Mark Stecker


Any executive worth their salt (or executive perks) knows how valuable word-of-mouth advertising is to your brand or product. And in today's digital-first world, word-of-mouth essentially equates to your share of the social media and digital conversation. Still, honestly, it sounds like a lot of work – and how exactly do you go viral for something other than losing 2 billion dollars of customer funds (I'm looking at you, FTX)?


The short answer is that you don't have to – go viral, that is. The days of spray & pray marketing are about as relevant as road rules are to a minibus taxi. In 2023 your customers want to be in the same WhatsApp group, up in your DMs and part of your tribe. The answer, in a nutshell, is personalised marketing.


Research conducted by SmarterHQ in 2019 found that 72% of consumers said they would only engage with customised marketing messages targeted to their interests. According to Epsilon, 80% of consumers are more likely to purchase when a brand provides personalised experiences.


getting personal


In 2014, Coca-Cola popularised the personalisation trend with their original Share a Coke campaign. Coca-Cola printed the 150 most popular Australian names on Coke bottles and cans and invited Australians to 'share a coke'. From its humble beginnings in Australia, Share a Coke became a global phenomenon, reversing an 11-year consumption decline in the US and kicking off a global trend towards personalised marketing.


Personalisation promotes shared brand experiences and fosters a community, or tribe, of brand evangelists. For example, Nike's innovative Nike by You offering allows the average Jo(sephine) to create their own custom Nike shoe and share their custom kicks with friends – user-generated content IRL! As Nike fans share their designs, they become the ultimate brand evangelists. Best of all Nike executives can see which colourways and colours are most popular in each market segment, helping them improve their standard retail offerings.


In the last few years, the 24/7 bombardment of consumers, over multiple platforms and often simultaneously, has sparked a trend towards greater individualisation and more niche self-selected tribes. The good news is that this means you don't necessarily need a Coca-Cola or Nike budget to achieve global success. Truly understanding your market and leveraging tactics such as strategic collaboration can be effective – and cost effective - ways to grow your brand.




Logan Paul and KSI are longtime Youtubers, and masters of self-promotion who’ve individually built impressive subscriber bases through their in-depth understanding of the interests of their respective markets. Leveraging their market insights, together with the power of collaboration, the duo launched the much-hyped energy drink, Prime (now retailing for a cool R400 per can on the South African high school black market!) in 2021. The Prime duo understood their audience and used them as their target market (under 25 or even 16), cleverly leveraging their own social media channels to create a real buzz around the drink.


It’s increasingly clear that personalised experiences are fast becoming an essential part of building a strong brand. 86% of consumers are willing to pay more if it means a better customer experience and 80% say they are more likely to make a purchase when a brand offers a personalised experience. Your customers have come to expect seamless, personalised experiences at every touchpoint.


If all of this feels a little overwhelming, you’re not alone, according to Forbes’ Clear Path to Personalization report only 18% of marketers are confident that they have a clear strategy for personalisation and the most often cited reason? Data management. You need the right tools and systems in place to effectively manage, mine and sort a massive volume of data into useable, actionable information to help you create your very own tribe of loyal brand evangelists.


Tribe approved


Modern word-of-mouth marketing campaigns are about more than just a strong “viral” campaign. By using data and consistent, attractive brand experiences to invite your customers to self-identify with your brand, you create a community who will support your brand for life. Passionate brand evangelists are every marketer’s dream, bringing new tribe members – including their children - into the fold.


These complex campaigns don’t just come out of nowhere, they require expert analysis. If you need some help working out what makes your customers tick - call us, and we may even share our teenagers' secret stash of Prime Hydration… maybe.





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