YouTube Gives Primal Branding Thumbs Up For Building Social Communities

As the largest social engagement platform on the planet, YouTube is designed to interact and connect. That’s what all the likes, commenting, and sharing is about. But how do you design, build and sustain all that interactivity?

YouTube suggests using the community principles outlined in Primal Branding, written by Thinktopia founder and ceo Patrick Hanlon. “Community is going to happen with you or without you,” says Rachel Lightfoot, senior programming strategist at YouTube Next Lab. “You want to make sure you’re shaping that discussion.”

Thinktopia_Animation_v1use this1This helps construct the socially reinforcing circle.  “Everyone wants to belong,” says Lightfoot, citing Primal Branding as her source. “Everyone wants to find a like-minded group of people who can come together for a common topic or cause.”

Big companies use a few simple triggers to create brand zealots—people who feel they are a part of your community, and advocate (that means buzz) their favorite likes to others. These people are not only focused on the brand, they are the strategic core of the brand.

“What’s great,” continues Lightfoot, “is that we see all these principles [from Primal Branding] in all of today’s top YouTube channels.”

In an instructional video headlined as “Build a sustainable community” on YouTube Creator Academy, Lightfoot cites five of the seven pieces of ‘primal code’ outlined in the book Primal Branding. Those elements are: the creation story, creed, rituals, leader, and lexicon. Although just as relevant for creating community, the video omits Icons—quick concentrations of meaning like the Nike logo, Apple’s iconic white design, the iconic smell of Chanel No. 5, or the iconic taste of McDonald’s French fries.

Rachel Lightfoot quote2.001The video also does not include Nonbelievers—that counter-culture that reminds you of who you do not want to be like, and what you do not want to become. Understanding who your ‘nonbelievers’ are, helps define who we are and strengthens the values of our own community. (Nothing like getting a Tea Party member on the opposite side of the table from a Democrat—or just about anyone—to solidify and recommit the beliefs of both.)

YouTube (the second largest search engine in the world after parent Google) has determined that the Primal Branding construct is their preferred method for narrative design and connecting community.

“These are things that can help you build your community,” asserts Lightfoot.

To create and grow your own social community, watch YouTube’s Rachel Lightfoot as she explains how to design narrative and build audience viewership.

You can also look for Primal Branding on, which outlines how to create your brand narrative and provides dozens of examples.

You’ll become a believer, too.