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Want your brand to be indispensable? Do these 2 things.

Your brand is most desirable when it becomes less about you and more about those you hope to serve.

You’ll notice I didn’t say ‘those you hope to sell to”. We need to change the way we think. Throw away terms like buyers, customers, and consumers. Those labels dehumanize this group. If we really want our brands to be highly valued, then we must recognize that we are not here to sell, we are here to serve.

Adopting this mindset prepares us to do the 2 things that will make our brands indispensable.

Those you hope to serve have a challenge they are trying to address. And, they’re looking for help. Unfortunately, their guard goes up any time a brand tries to speak with them because they’ve been conditioned to get the hard sell. Too many brands see it as something they must do. It happens when they are thinking more about their needs (making a sale) than the needs of those they are engaging (addressing that challenge).

If we’re really looking to be indispensable, then our brand needs to shift to serving. There is no better way to do that than to provide the great help that people are looking for. Here’s an example. I get regular emails from Rockestock (they sell motion assets, footage, and templates online for people who make videos.) In their email, they teach you how to create a cool effect. Most of the time, it is presented in a short, easy-to-follow video.

The elements they use to teach the lesson are available to buy on their site. Although you don’t have to purchase the elements to learn how to create the effect or put it to work in your video. The best part is they show you how to create what looks like a very complicated effect in just minutes. It’s useful and valuable. That’s why I keep opening their emails every time they hit my inbox. And, why I go to them first when I need a video asset.

Educating will go a long way to making your brand valuable. Now let’s talk about adding the element that will push your brand into the realm of indispensable: entertaining.

Brands that entertain while they educate bring down the defenses of the resistant. Nothing changes people’s posture like a little humor or a moving story.

When it comes to adding humor into the mix, Dollar Shave Club does a nice job. They mix together a nice balance of great information and humor. For example, take a look at How to Take a Nap When You Suck at Taking Naps.

By giving us helpful information in an entertaining way, they gain our permission to put their product information in front of us as well. Of course, that product information is presented with the same kind of cheekiness, making the whole effort fit nicely together.

As a result, we find ourselves looking forward to the communication from brands like this. We know we will find something useful when we open that email or click that link. And we know it will be presented in an entertaining way that makes consuming it very satisfying.

As we begin to evolve the brand to educate and entertain, we want to make sure that our effort is believable coming from our brand and delivered in a way that feels authentic to who we are. Here are a couple of questions to ask:

  • Is it believable that our brand would deliver this type of education? Does it seem natural coming from our brand or will people think that we’ve overstepped the boundaries of our expertise? Understanding what we can believably deliver is crucial. Sometimes it may even be broader than we initially realize. Take the example from above. Dollar Shave Club does not offer sleep aids, but it does serve the personal hygiene/health space. So an article about the health benefits of napping feels appropriate.
  • Is it delivered in a way that is believable coming from our brand? If the brand is known for its no-nonsense approach, suddenly delivering education with a wacky attitude will erode credibility. It doesn’t mean you can’t use humor. It just has to be appropriate to the voice of the brand. Aligning with the personality of the brand is critical in order to gain people’s acceptance and trust.

Imagine no longer hoping people will tolerate our brand so that we hopefully have the chance to try and engage them. Imagine, instead, those we hope to serve being receptive to our communications. Better yet, imagine them looking forward to what we have to share. That’s how brands begin to become indispensable.

Dan is an expert brand strategist and author of the book Big Audacious Meaning — Unleashing Your Purpose-Driven Story. He is a founder at Will & Grail — a brand innovation company, helping organizations find their unique, undeniable and unshakable sense of purpose and create innovative experiences that bring it to life.

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Dan is an expert brand strategist and author of the book Big Audacious Meaning — Unleashing Your Purpose-Driven Story. He is a founder at Will & Grail.

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