Even if you are absolutely certain that your product/service is one of the best on the market, what you think of your brand is not nearly as important as what your customers and potential customers think of it and say about it. They are, after all, the market!
“Brand humility is the only response to a fast-changing and competitive marketplace. The humble brand understands that it needs to re-earn attention, re-earn loyalty and reconnect with its audience as if every day is the first day.” – Seth Godin
In my opinion, Seth’s message is right on target. Brands simply cannot compete in this marketplace if they don’t make an ongoing effort to put aside an ego-driven mindset in order to genuinely engage with their target market. Relationships require humility, whether it’s personal relationships, business relationships, or brand/customer relationships.
To be a humble brand, you need to first listen. Thanks to social media, brands can gather vast amounts of valuable information about consumer preferences… but the humble brand needs to go well beyond data gathering and actually listen to the customers. True listening requires a willingness to place others’ opinions above the brand’s own (usually biased) view of itself, and to even make product/service changes based on that feedback.
A humble brand also needs to stay engaged. Brands tend to fall short on this one because real engagement takes time, attention, and overall effort, but I can assure you that working in a vacuum is one of the biggest mistakes a brand can make! A one-time Tweet, a quick Facebook posting, or an email or voice-mail here and there is an announcement, not engagement. Engagement requires a brand to reach out by asking questions, offering useful content and solutions to relevant issues, providing useful forums and feedback venues, etc.
Evergreen Trading EXCELS at this incredibly important part of Brand Humility… I have learned working with them that in their world, nurturing relationships is EVERYTHING. I am a perfect example… we met at a Brand Innovators Summit in Chicago that I was emceeing. Jonathan Sorkenn was moderating a fireside chat, and before he went on stage I offered a small piece of advice that he took to heart and implemented. After he was done I offered some additional input for the future. He not only embraced the advice, he immediately reached out via LinkedIn, connected, and then began engaging with me. Within a few months he approached me about joining the Evergreen Trading Advisory Board. Their three day offsite that I was invited to took place right before the pandemic hit, so during that almost two year time period, when my relationship with Evergreen could have easily languished, he not only worked to strengthen it, he made sure to keep me connected and engaging with many others in the company. That is classic Return on Relationship, because… Relationships are like muscle tissue, the more you engage them, the stronger and more valuable they become.
A humble brand focuses on the relationship before the sale. When a brand adopts the marketing philosophy that it is all about relationships, they automatically begin paying more attention to customer needs and preferences to learn who the customers really are. Customers and prospects who feel valued by a brand will in turn assign value to the brand by buying the product/service and passing recommendations on to their networks. The sale then becomes a natural part of the ROR (Return on Relationship) instead of a “hard sell” effort.
It is a new marketplace out there – let your brand be an example by modeling how effective true brand humility can be! A Brand is what a business does, a Reputation is what people Remember and Share.