October 24, 2013 09:30 ET

Brands Should Be in the 'Tribe-Building' Business, Lipman Writes

In Blog Post for MarketingDaily, Veteran CBX Brand Consultant Offers Advice on Using Immersive Brand Experiences to Create a 'Way of Life' for Consumers

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwired - Oct 24, 2013) - As they seek to capture the imaginations of consumers, today's brands cannot simply offer products and services. Instead, writes CBX Managing Partner Gregg S. Lipman in an Oct. 9 blog post published by MediaPost's MarketingDaily, the onus is on brands to offer a way of life -- an emotional bond that connects one shopper to the next and makes people want to return to the store, again and again.

"Ever talk to someone who shops at Lululemon?" writes Lipman, the veteran brand consultant and co-founder of the New York-based brand agency. "The Lululemon brand connection is forged on something more than yoga clothing and gear -- it is forged on a lifestyle of health and well-being that makes shoppers feel they are part of the 'tribe.' "

In the post ("Immersive Brand Experience as A Way of Life"), Lipman offers pointers for brands that aim to create a Lululemon-like tribe of their own. The first is "Let your tribe connect with each other." Citing online communities such as Etsy, Pinterest and Airbnb, Lipman emphasizes the importance of creating online spaces that enable shoppers to connect with like-minded individuals. "Users of these sites go to them knowing they will find people with similar tastes, which perhaps grants them permission to spend time there," he writes, "and spend time they do."

The next is "Elevate your tribe's purpose." Here, Lipman describes how certain brands craft uplifting customer experiences in ways that leave people feeling better about themselves. "At MAC Cosmetics, the attention showered upon you and the personal service allows you to feel comfortable, confident and free to express your desires without judgment," he writes. "Celebrity endorsers like RuPaul, Lady Gaga and Elton John preach inclusivity and are atypical 'beauties' -- a fresh departure from beauty brands that feature flawless, airbrushed models."

Another pointer is "Create a community in your brand space." Lipman cites the highly popular spinning classes of SoulCycle, which have turned legions of New Yorkers and Los Angelenos into spin worshippers. "People bond on favorite instructors and playlists, and popular classes sell out in minutes," Lipman explains. "Walls, t-shirts and products are covered with inspiring words, and it would be easy for a new visitor to forget that SoulCycle is actually about spinning."

Lastly, Lipman encourages brands to "Offer unforgettably unique experiences." For example, American Girl offers experiences at its stores that doll owners cannot find anywhere else. "Doll owners can take a cooking class with their dolls, or eat next to their dolls at the restaurant, or wait months for a highly coveted appointment at the Doll Hair Salon," he notes.

In the conclusion to the piece, Lipman cautions that brands will fail at creating tribes if the effort is inauthentic. "Here's the thing about tribes: They need to stand for something," he writes. "They need to have a common spirit that pervades a group and the physical trappings that unify, and they need to evolve over time. Brands that don't do so start to lose their relevancy, and in turn their followers."

The full post is available at

About CBX

CBX is a brand agency specializing in corporate identity, consumer branding and retail. The company, with its current staff of more than 130, was founded in 2003 and has a client base that includes Del Monte, General Mills, Kimberly-Clark, A&P, Pathmark, Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, Lord & Taylor, Wawa, Sunoco, and PetroChina. In addition to its New York City headquarters, CBX has an office in Minneapolis, and through the CBX Worldwide Partnership, operating offices around the globe. The firm was ranked #282 in the Advertising & Marketing industry for the 2011 Inc. 500/5000 list of fastest growing private companies. CBX was named a "Design Firm of the Year" in Display & Design Ideas magazine's Portfolio Awards 2013 based upon results of a reader-driven survey.