All Articles Marketing Marketing Strategy Brand enthusiasts back beliefs, not products

Brand enthusiasts back beliefs, not products

For effective word-of-mouth marketing, brands need to consider the "primal branding" model.

2 min read

MarketingMarketing Strategy

A person is shouting into a megaphone.

Patrick Fore / Unsplash

For some people, a brand is a logo and a website. For others, it describes an image: what kind of people wear Nikes, drive Teslas or watch “Julia.”

Marketers may imagine that their brand is an idea under their control. But in reality, it’s a community of people who share the same beliefs. When approached this way, that community can springboard into shared purpose, awareness, advocacy and growth.

I developed a framework to help marketers curate their own story called “Primal Branding,” which looks at brands as belief systems. Once you create a belief system, you attract others who share your beliefs, which creates communities.

A few years back, I gave a TEDx talk where I explain how it works:

In short, products that don’t spread their narrative across social and digital media leave it to consumers to create their own storyline. That storyline will probably be merely functional (“great tasting,” “low price,” “longer lasting”) and not embedded with the emotional touchpoints that create true advocacy.

Why primal branding matters today

Word-of-mouth marketing has always been considered the most important form of advertising, but that’s especially true today.

In the past, marketers could not measure or overhear what customers were saying about their products around water coolers or at Monday morning meetings — much less the gossip about their brand. Today they can topline all those metrics.

The only role a company really has today is to make sure they deliver a quality product. Then message their seven pieces of what I call “primal code” across social, digital and traditional media.

Why? So that your advocates have the facts they need to tell others and support you.

These advocates become your tool for growth as they push your messaging out to the network’s “friend’s friend’s friend.” And your “brand” comes for free.

Patrick Hanlon is CEO of and author of “Primal Branding: Create Belief Systems that Attract Communities.” You can follow him on Instagram.

If you like this article, sign up for the SmartBrief on Social Business email newsletter for free.