After reading some of James’ posts about Tribal Marketing, I thought it would be fun to test it out on some brands I’m familiar with that I think are doing a good job of building a powerful brand tribe. (If you haven’t yet, make sure you check out Tribal Marketing: Sacred Things and Tribal Marketing: The Elements of Doctrine so that the rest of this post makes sense.)
I’ve recently become a Dave Ramsey listener and reader, and I’ve felt an overwhelming sense of tribe pulling me into the brand like a tractor beam (nerd alert). As a marketer, I suspected that the Dave Ramsey team was using the elements of tribal branding and marketing to lure me into becoming an active member of their movement. I just sold my car to get out of debt, so they must be doing something right.
Let’s see if we can identify the tribal elements within the Dave Ramsey brand:
“Debt is dumb, cash is king, and the paid-off home mortgage has taken the place of the BMW as the new status symbol of choice.”
This is a clever opening tagline that Dave uses at the top of every show. It’s memorable and summarizes the tribal creed quite nicely.
“Live like no one else so later you can live like no one else.”
This idea of being the oddball with your money comes up a lot throughout this tribe. This tribe values a lifestyle of sacrifice over comfort in the short-term because it believes it is worth it in the long run.
Hope in God
The Seven Baby Steps
These commandments are discussed so often that it’s hard to forget any! A simple way to relate to others in the tribe is to ask them what step they are on.
The Great Recovery: A new American economy fueled by wealth, not debt.
This is the inspiring, overarching vision that the tribe is working hard to achieve, complete with its own microsite.
The idea that the government can fix the economy
In this tribe, Dave Ramsey himself is the leader. The tribe is currently working to build up other speakers and authors, but this may be a potential threat since so much of tribal brand equity is rolled into one man.
ELPs (Endorsed Local Providers)
ELPs are the local financial service professionals that have been “ordained” to carry out the tribe’s mission on a practical level. They are screened and must meet tribal criteria in order to reach this level of authority within the brand.
Financial Peace University leaders
The tribe’s doctrine, practices, and commandments (The Baby Steps) are taught by local teachers at Financial Peace University.
The gazelle can escape its predators by running away with extreme intensity and focus. This is a metaphor used in the tribe for getting out of debt that raises the stakes. The Gazelle metaphor effectively communicates to the tribe that this is a matter of life and death.
Words and Phrases
“Better than I deserve”
Act your wage
Financial Peace Plaza (Nashville, TN)
Members of the Dave Ramsey tribe converge upon Nashville to do their debt-free scream. Families will literally drive thousands of miles across the country just to scream that they are out of debt from the lobby of “Financial Peace Plaza”.
“We’re deeeeebt freeeeee!!!” (The Debt Free Scream)
This has become a very powerful tribal mantra. Several years ago, a caller to the radio show got a little excited and started shouting “I’m debt free.” This is a perfect example of an iconic tribal sound. It developed organically within the tribe and has naturally become an initiation symbol for new members in the tribe.
The music played before and after commercial breaks during the radio show are a part of the tribe, and even this part has its own following on twitter (@blakesbumps)
Just as I suspected, the Dave Ramsey brand has a TON of tribal elements that seem to be working very well. What brands do you think are doing a good job of building a dynamic tribe?
*photo credit - Stig Nygaard