What you can learn from Omsom about building a tribe

I’m going to share why the Asian recipe starter kit Omsom are one of my favourite cult brands. There’s a reason they’re growing faster than the competition whilst still standing up for what they believe in. And having a ton of fun on the journey.

They tick nearly every box of being a cult brand. But really they had me at soups🍜


They’re an Asian recipe starter biz run by 2 Vietnamese-American sisters (they provide the recipes, sauces, aromatics etc, you provide the protein and veggies) who have sold 500k starter packs. They’ve also just been featured as one of Fast Companies most innovative companies of 2022 along with loads of other press.

Not bad considering they only launched during lockdown in May 2020. Their motto is ‘Loud + Proud’ and they live this every day.

So what do they do better than the rest?

They have a tribe and stand up for them

They know their tribe – Asian Americans. The one audience they speak to above everyone else. They speak up for the things their tribe believe in that everyone else is too scared to.

That’s one of the fundamentals of being an authentic brand – publicly calling out things on principle even if it pisses people off – and it really does. They get loads of racist trolling.

Some of the things they’ve done:

  • Campaigned to get MSG removed as a bad ingredient as unless your glutamate intolerant it’s no worse than salt and all the myths on it are based on bad, racist science.
  • Highlight the negative stereotypes Asian Americans face every day.
  • Taking on the racist trolls they get for speaking out on these issues (which got them featured in the NY times – brands who have nothing to say rarely make national news).

And they always get a ton of comments on every one of these posts as people want to join the conversation and know they’ll be heard. Bit more engaging than ‘Who’s up for brunch??’ on repeat.

They do things to live their values, not just chat

Without fail, every single cult brand does things for their tribe that go beyond selling their core product. Could be events, collabs or just starting regular conversations about subjects your audience find interesting.

Often there is no immediate short term value, especially when you’re just starting. But either you believe in investing time in your community or you don’t. It’s not something that can be debated through spreadsheets.

All I can tell you is every cult brand with the most passionate customers prioritises this above other things.

Omsom love doing collabs. So do I. Partnering with other businesses that share your values to create something exciting and unique.

In our dopamine addicted world if you want people to stay loyal, you need to keep giving them reasons to stick around beyond your core product. Plus it opens you up to the right kind of new audiences.

They partner with bang on brands like Instapot (makes total sense) and do cooking series with people like Pepper Teigen (Chrissy Teigen’s mum) to keep things fresh and open them up to new audiences.

They also launch cool merch like chef knife earrings, a rice paddle and even Muay Thai shorts. That’s what creating a lifestyle around your values looks like. Finding new ways to improve your customers lives based on your shared values and beliefs. Can be practical, can be fun or like here can be both.

They don’t just bang on about their product

As you can see Om Som have something to say. But it’s not just ranting against the evils of the world. They chat about a lot of things beyond their product because they know their audience well enough that they’ll find it interesting.

You’re not just buying the product now but the people behind it which is the next level of emotional connection to turn customers into a tribe.

I always say the easiest way to show your personality beyond chatting about your product is chat about the world of food. Most of your customers are running around like headless chickens in the kitchen looking for advice. So be the leader they want and help them.

Bonus – the more value you give away for free the more trust you build. That’s the essential first step to building a tribe

Omson are constantly talking about their favourite food and kitchen tips – there’s so much to talk about here once you open your mind and get comfortable with it.

They share their journey as a business – from their origins to where they’re heading. That includes breaking down their process, not just for their products but for their business too. Even talking about things like how they created their visual identity. I talk to a lot of founders who say transparency is one of their values. This is living it.

They show their team and personality. People want to know who they’re buying from (and what you look like). But the world doesn’t need another shot of your team with a bland caption. It might need a reel showing what each of your team did on new years day though.

And then just having fun and chatting about things that are interesting to them and their audience. Mainly food related. Like the history of Chinese American food. Once you know why your audience connects with you, coming up with ideas like this is easy.

Again whatever they chat about always gets great engagement as they have taken the time to nurture their community and show they’re real humans not a faceless brand.

The One Thing

Just one of those 3 points above will help you stand out from the noise and set you well on your way to building a passionate tribe. Do all 3 together and hey, you might make one of those fastest growing company lists.

Think about one person you could collab with who shares the same values as you and has a big audience who are very similar to yours. If you need to shmooze them a bit to get on their radar, it’s worth the effort.