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a blog by Chris Barrow

The tribal chant – why good branding is so important for your dental business

My recent wet weekend at Kendal Calling (music, beer, mud) may have been washed out (along with a number of other British music festivals) but it was a timely reminder of just how tribal we still are – and how that impacts the way we promote our businesses.

On Saturday evening I watched and listened as a (now very infirm) Brian Wilson and some Beach Boys survivors performed the whole of their 1966 Pet Sounds album, then finished with a sequence of crowd-pleasing “surf’s up” numbers.

My own reaction (I make no apology) on hearing the opening bars of “Wouldn’t it be Nice” was to shed a tear at the memory of my 13-year old self, listening to the vinyl on a Sunday afternoon with my now deceased parents.

So many years have passed and so much life has been lived – a combination of nostalgia and Real Ale had me quite overcome in the moment.

Whether it was The Beach Boys, Stereophonics, The Happy Mondays or The Manics – as soon a band began to perform their greatest hits, the crowd immediately launched into a Tribal Chant. Even Mexrrissey, reinventing Morrissey songs with a “south of the border” touch, had the woodlands crowd bouncing and singing in the rain (see below for a sample track to liven up your day).

We love to singalong with our favourite bands, we love to dance (did you see my video on Facebook – Northern Soul dance classes in the rain on Saturday morning?).

Back in civilisation, on Monday evening I watched the movie Baby Driver – puerile in the extreme – but the soundtrack was wonderful.

We love to chant.

We are tribal.

It’s that tribalism that powers branding – we seek to identify ourselves as having attained Maslow’s third level of “love and belonging” by chanting, dancing and wearing/using the symbols and emblems of tribal membership:

I am a member of the tribe of:

  1. Apple

  2. Omega

  3. Converse

  4. Levi (that’s jeans, not lost tribe of Israel)

  5. Pret a Manger

  6. Strava

  7. Facebook

  8. for many of you (not me), BMW, Mercedes et al

  9. Asics

and so on.

Even in the business of dentistry, you may be a member of the tribe of:

  1. Practice Plan

  2. Straumann

  3. SOE

  4. Cerec

  5. DSD

  6. BACD

another list to which many names could be added.

I was chatting to Sheila Scott yesterday as we shared her car down to Practice Plan for our 2017/18 PP Tour dress rehearsal and reflecting that there is little overlap between the Sheila tribe and the Coach Barrow tribe – even though we have both been busy as hell for over 25 years.

Here, though, is a question.

Do your patients (or team, for that matter) see themselves as belonging to your tribe?

I’m not suggesting a company song or dance (although that would be a sight to behold) but I pose the question “is your brand so well defined and powerful that your team and patients can identify with it?”

There are some great branding experts out there in dentistry, not the least of whom is Les Jones, Creative Director at Practice Plan and self-publisher extraordinaire.

Recently, Les spoke with colleague Nigel Jones about branding as a PP Podcast episode – it’s a great listen and you can find it HERE.

For now – enjoy a Mexico City take on a very miserable Mancunian.

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