You can’t keep a good brand down
Like almost every success story you hear in business, the spark came from an inspired individual or group with an idea they thought was great. But those being sought for support, especially in the area of finance, could not relate to that vision. As a consequence, the visionaries were turned down. That was the experience of mas band Tribe with its team—though a bit inexperienced but with no end to their ambition—back in 1995. But eight years on, Dean Ackin, chief executive officer of Tribe wanted to make it known its success hinged on fate. “When we launched in 2005, we launched a brand…not a band. Bands come and go. Brands come to stay. Brands go through challenges and changes, but brands are built in such a way that they can face their competition head on and survive,” Ackin said. “Tribe has faced new competition every single year since its inception in 2005, and eight years later we are still making the front page of a national newspaper on Ash Wednesday. “Fun aside, this says something about the relevance of our brand in Carnival and more importantly, about the contribution our brand has made in Trinidad Carnival. Tribe was not to be a Carnival band; it was to be the ultimate Carnival experience.”
He made the pronouncement at Tribe’s Appreciation for the media core and sponsors, held at the Courtyard Marriott on Monday. There, he underscored that success for the brand could not have been realised had the core team lack passion for the national festival. Ackin declared that this country’s Carnival celebration, dubbed the greatest show on earth, was not just about innovation, but reinvention. “Mas is also evolving and going through changes. Tribe feels proud to be part of that evolution of mas. Tribe’s main goal is to be at the forefront of innovation and positive change for the industry, especially regarding the enhancement of the masquerader experience. Innovation is one of Tribe’s key core values,” said Ackin. “As a brand, we approach our work as a service business and apply common management tools to ensure the sustainability and strong equity of the brand. One of the key management principles we apply is succession planning so that even with the departure of key contributors, the brand can remain strong.”
Ackin added: “Indeed, Tribe’s management team has gone through some major changes over the last few years, but this has not in any way compromised our service and deliverables to our customers.” A Costume Design Mentorship Programme is now a key component of the band’s progression. When the band rolls out its portrayal for Carnival 2013, this July—titled Butterflies, Beast and Bacchanal—the mas fraternity can expect works from some new talent, benefiting from expert guidance, and with a portrayal to tease and tantalise revellers. Works of mas presented by Tribe has not escaped the attention of international audiences and the media. From the New York Times, to Time Magazine, the impact of this local born brand has been felt globally. At the 2011 staging of Miss Universe, the costume worn by this country’s representative La Toya Woods, designed by Tribe’s own Monique Nobrega, placed sixth out of 88 on show. To its credit, business tycoon and Business Guardian columnist Sir Richard Branson experienced the world’s biggest street party a few years ago, under the Tribe banner.
Further to that, Alfonso Ribiero (known as Carlton Banks from the former television sitcom Fresh Prince of Bel Air) played with Tribe’s sister band Bliss, while his on-screen siblings Will Smith and Tatyana Ali, were in Trinidad attending signature events from the brand last November and in January respectively. Back to the international scene where Tribe has events and franchises in major cities, namely London, Miami and Australia. Ackin hinted at the brand’s evolution and possible diversification, but declined to offer specifics. “The management of Tribe intends to take another bold step in diversifying its portfolio of business activities both within the Carnival industry and even outside of Carnival industry. As the brand grows, opportunities will be realised for all of us,” he said. Tribe has also been a big supporter of social causes. Ackin said: “We lend our support financially and otherwise to a number of charities. All proceeds from our annual Las Lap party go to charities. This year, these include Vitas House, the Animal Welfare Network (AWN) and St Dominic’s (Sunny Hill Homestead). We urge other successful leaders in our industry to also support social causes and charities that can help the social growth and development of our nation’s marginalised. “We must be our brother’s keeper and be part of the solution. Collectively, we can all make a difference. And as leaders, we can set a positive example by our deliberate decision to get involved and help.”
The Tribe team poses for a photo at the appreciation event