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How These Top Bands Won Carnival


Carnival’s come and gone, with our favorite mas bands having launched events and showing off their costumes. Which means this is the perfect time for a marketing head or entrepreneur to take a look back at what marketing choices worked during one of the most economically valuable times of the year. Learning what the most successful mas bands are doing during this time can share some important tips for your own brand’s planning for the rest of the year, or even going into 2021. So let’s take a look at those bands and see what we can learn, shall we?

First, there are bands like Yuma, who have a clear idea of who their core audience is. We’ve spoken in the past about how important it is to know your brand’s personality, but the next step is knowing what to do with that information.

In Yuma’s case, they’ve created a brand not only for themselves, but for their ideal consumers – ‘Yumans’. Creating an identity and community for the people who engage with your products and content has had lots of success for different kinds of brands, especially in the age of social media influencers.

It’s not possible to talk about Carnival in Trinidad & Tobago without mentioning The Lost Tribe. They’ve dominated the local scene after launching just a couple of years ago, through some thoughtful and consistent marketing decisions. The thing that really sets them apart is their approach to Carnival less as a season, and more as a group of activities that can be marketed year-round.

With that in mind, they’ve built a Talent Bank of services they outsource outside of Carnival, and work smart to connect their brand and services to activities often disconnected from Carnival, such as their recent anti-domestic violence campaigning. They’ve also made a name for themselves by creating an aesthetic to their Carnival costumes that, while not entirely new, stands in stark contrast to the majority of ‘pretty mas’ bands in the market.

But their distinct brand image of consistency and distinction holds another powerful lesson. It’s easy to forget that The Lost Tribe is connected to another brand – Tribe, a mas band that’s been in existence even longer than they have. Yet still, they’ve managed to make an identity for themselves that stands apart from even the band that they consistently work alongside.

Which actually brings us to Tribe, which has become something of a conglomerate of mas bands, each with their own unique identity. But instead of assimilating each separate band into one singular brand image, they’ve decided to go the route of ensuring each mas keeps its own distinct character, and trying to support that with their own. In that way, each mas band becomes something of an individual product, with its own brand strategy and all.

By maintaining those distinctions, you create multiple products that cater to separate groups of consumers, and core fans for each of those products. Those core fans share about their affinity to those brands, helping improve their reach and influence. When that happens naturally, the larger collection of brands benefit from dedicated consumers, without suffering from the potential difficulty of any one of those fans being spoiled for choice.

The instinct for some businesses might be to make low-tier and high-tier options of their products. But Tribe’s more horizontal approach, where all of the options are just as good, but cater to people who are attracted to a particular brand image instead, lets everyone buy into a brand that they recognize as quality and connects to them personally. In the event that your brand has more than one product that caters to the same audience, there may be more of a benefit in putting them parallel to each other instead of marketing one as superior to the other.

Whether you’re playing mas this year or not, there’s a lot to look at during the Carnival season (and we don’t just mean the costumes). These are just some of the interesting lessons that a savvy marketing manager can learn from the bands that have made the greatest festival on earth…well, the greatest festival on earth!

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