In the first of three reports, Digital Vision winner Allison Saur explores the power and role of Naming in building a digital community. Using the template of native tribes, the report outlines best practices for when and how to use naming to increase the loyalty of group members.

By the author, Allison Saur;

From social media users to best selling authors, ‘tribe’ has become a social marketing term that hints at a deeper human experience. Using Native American tribal characteristics to examine this concept reveals a substantial framework for building stronger, more fulfilling and highly committed online communities.

A part of the Digital Vision Project, the three reports in this series outline the implications and potential in that tribal reference, including specific techniques for digital communities. Download this first report on naming here.

As a member of the Chickasaw Nation and long time digital marketing professional, my research into a definition of tribe began with my own heritage. The indigenous peoples of North America know a lot about community, identity and loyalty. Native American identities been assaulted for hundreds of years of assault on their tribal existence, but they persist, and even thrive.

When American Indians are asked about being “Native,” themes of pride, commitment and a “we” identity rise to the top of the discussion. This sense of community and identity is not exclusive to indigenous peoples; it arises from practices that are found throughout human interaction, and even in online communities.

There are three Pillars that support a tribe: Language, Culture and Organization. Under each of these are a several tools to support strong community development. Each article in the series will address a Tribal Pillar and review a single technique in more detail.

The first Pillar, Language, is so fundamental to our experience of communal identity, we often overlook it. However, we consistently gravitate to those who “speak our language” as a first anchor of shared experience and perspective. As community builders, being intentional in our use and support of insider jargon, symbols and naming conventions will increase the tethers of the group identity on very basic levels. The report outlines three Naming tools from Native American tribes that marketers can begin exploring with in their tribe immediately.

The two subsequent reports will look at Culture and Organization.

Culture is complex to define, yet we know it when we see it. Community cultures emerge and grow, but as community builders and marketers we should be more than passive observers. This report will discuss actions that support vibrant community cultures that captivate its members.

The third report in the series discusses the Organization Pillar. This Pillar starts with tribal examples to understand the role of governance, hierarchy and resource management in the cohesiveness of online communities in digital age.

Click here to download the first report in the series, Digital Tribes I: Naming

Stefan Tornquist

Published 12 March, 2012 by Stefan Tornquist @ Econsultancy

Stefan is Vice President of Research (US) for Econsultancy. You can follow him @SKTornquist and connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (4)

Tim McKane

Tim McKane, Owner at navajotalk

Aha...that is why we named our company Navajo Talk almost three years ago... prescient or what?

over 6 years ago


D'Shane Barnett

For the commenter: Unless you are authorized to speak on behalf of the Navajo Nation, you shouldn't have a company named Navajo Talk. Just a friendly heads up, see here:

The Navajo Nation is a very capable entity that understands the concept of name recognition. Unless you have received official permission to use their name in your business title, you might want to do some re-thinking.

over 6 years ago


Allison Aldridge-Saur, Director of eMarketing at CNDC


Thank you so much for your attendance and comment! I am encouraged when ever I find fellow Indigenous peoples here in the digital space. I hope my work honors all of us.
I looked at Tim McKane's company. I wanted to make sure you knew, they are from the UK. The Europeans do not have the history and do not know the context of cultural exploitation the Navajo and other Nations have experienced.
Thank you for the link and reminding us that the Navajo legacy is a glorious, living, breathing, modern tribe!!

over 6 years ago

Tim McKane

Tim McKane, Owner at navajotalk

Hi we are a small social media agency in Belfast N Ireland, a place with its own tribal histories. We completely respect the history of the Navajo Nation, and their place in the culture of their country.

over 6 years ago

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