What’s Your Tribal Brand?

September 1, 2015

With the recent rumors that Apple will be announcing the release of a new iPhone sometime around September 8th, I’m reminded of the customer journey I experienced with Apple and the iPhone, one that has changed my technology buying behavior forever and led me to becoming a member of the Apple brand tribe.

The journey to becoming part of the Apple brand tribe began with my purchase of a G4 PowerBook in 2005 at the flagship Apple store on the Mag Mile in Chicago. It was there I found myself in a retail environment unlike any I had seen before, with products readily accessible in an open, modern and comfortable place. Then there was the purchase process, with customer service and sales handled by geeky hipsters in T-shirts that felt more like friends than salespeople hawking a product. Finally, there was the actual product experience itself, with the PowerBook packaged in a really cool, well-designed, attractive package that you reverently explored as opposed to simply tearing open. True confession; I saved the packaging my G4 PowerBook came in for years just because it felt like I should.

But what really converted me to being a full-fledged member of the Apple brand tribe was getting my first iPhone, the iPhone 3G, in July 2008. In what has since become a custom of iPhone releases, I lined up outside the Apple Store early in the morning and, along with hundreds of other people, and waited for hours to get my iPhone. Instead of simply buying a product, I felt part of something much larger. Complete strangers talked easily to each other, sharing their Apple experiences, and discussing the things they had done with various Apple devices. It was there that I became fully immersed in the Apple brand tribe.

As the new iPhone release approaches, it just so happens that I’m due for an iPhone replacement, and while I will definitely get the iPhone 7 (or iPhone 6S, depending on the rumor you believe), I don’t think I will go stand in line outside the Apple store for hours; my current iPhone still works fine, so there’s really no rush. But, it will be interesting to see the news reports of people who do, and to see just how large and committed the current Apple brand tribe is.

It also begs the question: what other brands come to mind that you can honestly say meets the definition of being a tribal brand, like Apple, and which ones are you part of?

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