What Mayorkun's 'Geng'​ can teach us about Tribal Marketing.

The hip-hop chart burster, "Geng" by Mayorkun has deep meanings we can draw parallels from to dispel the myth of Tribal Marketing. Dig in and enjoy.

Set awon geng geng geng (Geng) - The set of the Gangs

Pepper dem geng (Geng) - The Gang that likes to showoff

Happy geng geng (Geng) - The Gang who is always happy

Just best friends (Geng) - The gang of best friends

Set awon enugbe geng (Geng) - The Gang that is always broke

Bad mouth geng - The Gang who talks down on people

Akube Balenciaga geng (Geng) - The Gang that likes used Balenciaga stuff

One Hennessy, 20 men geng ...

Mayorkun's Geng hit the music charts a couple of weeks and almost immediately it became a street anthem and garnered global listenership. It's currently No 5 on Apple Music and was No 1 on Top 10 Nigerian songs in January. It's rather surprising how Gang is now spelled as 'Geng' just by the influence of a hit song. This shows how powerful the influence of pop culture. ‘Gang’ is not the only English word to suffer from the mischief of pop culture. Words like account (spelt akant), Please (spelt plzzz), quiet (spelt as kwayet) etc has suffered a similar fate.

Aside from making a parody of 'Gang', Geng has loads of lessons to teach us in tribal marketing. Geng echoes the rise of the collective; a trend that is revolutionizing our society and redefining human relations. From the earliest recollections of human existence, humans have been wired social, first for survival and as the human race evolves into civilization, they socialize for relevance. The fact is the trend of individualism is slowly waning and in recent times, there have been more events and phenomena that rallies people together for a significant cause. People don't just want to buy, they want to belong. This is why they buy in tribes or in Gengs (as Mayorkun opined in his song). Instead of heroes and heroics that characterize the era of individualism, we are gradually shifting to social micro-groups, building communities through shared rituals, emotions, beliefs, and consumption practices.

Seth Godin defined a tribe as: '... a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader and connected to an idea.'

From this definition, we can infer the following qualities of a tribe:

1. A shared identity (a group of people)

2. Shared connection (Connected to one another)

3. Shared belief (Connected to a leader and connected to an idea)

Wherever there is a brand, there must be a 'Geng.' How do you position your brand to attract its 'Geng'? This is where Tribal Marketing comes in.

Tribal marketing is a strategy that attempts to create social groups or communities that are centered around a product or service. Social media is the primary force driving the tribe trend. For example, Facebook as a social media platform enables the creation of groups that brings people that share a common idea and belief together. One of the largest online movement of women is a private Facebook group called FIN (Females in Nigeria). The group, founded by a US-based Nigerian, Ms Lola Omolola, has amassed over a million in membership and the number is counting.

Let's see how Tribal marketing plays out in religion.

It's almost criminal for you to be a Christian and not belong to a church. This is because your identity as a Christian is not only by personal conviction but also as a result of social validation. Birds of feathers flock together they say.

Show me your friend (Tribe) and I will tell who you are (Identity). In a nustshell, company is a proof of identity.

The same reason why you can't be a divergent/rebel in 2020 Nigeria and not be a Marlian. Your identity as a rebel is true but not yet valid. The same magic of the collective plays out in popular congregational meetings (Shiloh, Redemption Camp, Prayer city, etc). Despite the online streaming and Live TV alternative made available for these meetings, worshippers brave hours of traffic, thronging in hundreds of thousands to these places of worship. 21st-century humans have become vultures gathering over carcasses of contents, products, experiences, or anything that can satisfy a need or a yearning.

How about entertainment? We see what happened in the last season of Big Brother Naija. When tribes formed behind the two most prominent housemates (Mercy and Tacha). People abandoned their lives and took up a 'noble' cause of ensuring one housemate outlive the other. Naira Marley is not done with us yet because the number of people adopting the Marlian philosophy is soaring. FYI, Asa, the most conservative female musician to emerge from Nigeria declared she is a Marlian. Fireboy also christened his female fans FIREGIRLS. Vector da Viper's fans are called Vectorians.

In the 21st-century marketplace, if your brand is strong enough, it wont just attract sales, it will influence a following.

If your vision is to build a product that people will consume like culture, you need to build a tribe around it. Tribal association is what sustains culture.

What is the implication of tribal marketing for brands? It means brands should reinvent and rethink their marketing funnels and brand-building strategy to target tribes instead of niches or individuals. Instead of selling shoes to everyone, target the tribe of heel-lovers. If you are a fitness brand, don't just sell fitness products or services to everyone. Segment the market and appropriately target tribes like the Weightloss Geng, the Yoga Geng, the Summer body Geng, Bikini body Geng etc.

The use cases provided by tribal marketing is vast and the potential is limitless. You can spread ideologies (Daddy Freeze's Free the Sheeple movement), define self-identity (Naira Marley's Marlian), create and lead a social media village (Diyemowei-Odior Lily popularly known as Jagaban of IG), create a movement for a worthy cause (Females in Nigeria Facebook Group), reinforce a habit till it becomes a culture (Online Book reading clubs and Fitness communities).

To wrap this up, if you are fascinated by the idea of building a brand that attracts and influences a tribe, below are action steps you can take:

1. Define your Brand Values: Steve Jobs said: “Marketing is about values. It's a complicated and noisy world, and we're not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So we have to be really clear about what we want them to know about us.”

A well clarified and articulated value and identity system is critical to building a brand that will attract tribes. A popular adage says: “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.” There are other ingredients of strategy that goes into the mix of building brands but having a set of values your brand stands for is fundamental.

The identity of your brand determines the tribe it will attract. A Rolex is designed to attracts billionaires; 1% of the 1%. CocaCola is for everyone as long as you crave happiness. Apple is built for people with crazy dreams; the divergents who burn with ideas that can change the world. Cognac brands are designed for individuals who value sophistication and class.

The Core values of your brand is what attract and influence a tribe and not your product.

2. Be intentional: Never leave the perception of your brand to chances. If you don’t tell your story the way you want, people will tell your story the way they think. Do you want to build a brand for the average, rich, or folks next door? Then, design your brand to attract them. From the naming, logo, values, philosophy, messaging must speak to the tribe you want to attract.

I and a friend went to a Calabar restaurant in Lekki a while ago. From the look of things: the ambiance, fittings, staff appearance and the price of the food, it was built to serve the upper-middle class. They ticked most of the boxes till they brought the payment slip, it was a regular carbon paper invoice. The type you get when you buy stuff from an Igbo man in Idumota. Nobody will complain about this obviously but it doesn't complete the impression of luxury they are trying to create.

The seemingly small things really matter in building a brand that attracts a tribe.

3. Be Consistent: Don’t be one thing today and be another tomorrow. Al Ries said in his book, 22 Immutable Laws of Branding: 'Branding is boring work' Yes, it is boring because it is a consistent sequence of repetitive actions but that is how you shape perception. That is how you build a tribe. Naira Marley is always controversial. Trump is always obnoxious. Nike always inspires. Have you ever seen Nike enlist a comedian or a motivational speaker as an ambassador? Nah!

The credo of consistency is one of the reasons we don’t have too many break-out brands from the MSME space. Most entrepreneurs are yet to understand this fact. I once built a brand system for a startup entrepreneur some years ago. After the project is delivered, there were frequent requests for funny modifications to the logo. Like can you put it in a splash? Can you make the logo red on this particular design because red pops? Gradually, most entrepreneurs have designed their brand out of relevance.

You must consistently reinforce your brand identity and values in order to connect with a tribe. Tribes only respond to brands with consistent engagement.

3. Engage with Purpose: Engage your tribe purposefully. Out of sight is out of mind. Out of mind is out of the market. Develop and implement activities that are consistent with your brand values. If you are a hair brand, you can organize a hair care webinar for your followers. Do Giveaways that are proportionate to your budget. Do frequent opinion polls. The insight you glean from this feedback can be used to tremendously improve your brand.

For example, the 'Data is Life' campaign by Airtel is loved by everyone. These ad series changed the game for Airtel in the telecoms industry. However, this genius idea was obtained from a survey they conducted: What is data to you? And one of the respondents, a lady said: 'I don’t know what I can do without data. Data is Life to me' The agency went back and fleshed this out into one of the best campaigns of 2019.

Engaging purposefully means having a set of objectives you want to achieve from the engagement. This will serve as a benchmark to know if you achieve your goal or you missed it.

LET'S RECAP

1. The power of the collective is a rising trend. People don't just want to buy. They want to belong to a community and this is why they buy in tribes. You can leverage this trend by designing your brand and communication to attract tribes as against targeting individuals or niche sectors.

2. The Steps to take to design a brand that influences tribe following are:

i. Define your Brand Values

ii. Be Intentional

iii. Be Consistent

iv. Engage Purposefully.

This article is published by BXV Consulting. You can reach out to us to know how we can help you drive business growth or deliver brand experiences your competitors can’t beat.