I often in my travels visit customers who at times present a behavior that at times i can only describe as blind faith towards Microsoft. I’m somewhat unnerved by that and it’s not because i think Microsoft isn’t worthy of faith, it’s more a long the lines of understanding the rules of engagement really. A quote I recently made to a colleague was:
Loyalty to a brand is misguided, as its assumed the brand is loyal to you
Being loyal to Microsoft blindly won’t yield you much, well, not that I can think of anyway. Being a fan of our products will, and it’s not simply because you’re looking to score brownie points with us, no, what it means is you’re more likely to be passionate about a given product(s) than most of the mainstream, so we in turn are likely to cross paths more than those who aren’t. As you present yourself as a fan, who doesn’t like listening to their fans?
Don’t however, follow a brand, follow a tribe. If you like .NET development cool, that’s a brand driven tribe, but i suspect you belong though to a separate niche of developer audience – say web developers unite.
Tribes are in many was a link to our primitive days, but the sense of belonging to a community is and can be rewarding. Provided the community is open to change or can tolerate new ideas. If all you do is sit in a room talking about the same old thing about the same technology, what is the reward other than summarized education?
The best user groups or conferences I've ever been to are the ones that have a mixed breed of developers / designers. You walk in not expecting a defined brand to dominate the discussion, instead it’s open and no conference / user group is ever the same.
I in turn learn more. I also feel like i actually belong to a tribe and not a brand, as for a brief moment – I'm not Microsoft. I’m Scott, the developer.
I don’t think of Microsoft as a tribe, I think of it as a brand, i however think of what we produce contributes to the creation and sustainability of many tribes.