Over the last 30 years, we’ve come to believe a simple truth about business, branding, and life: The most relevant, long-lasting, successful brands have a few things in common. We’ve narrowed them down to 4 pillars with an easy-to-remember acronym: G.I.V.E.
G—Relevant Brands are Grateful and Generous
The path to relevance starts with gratitude at an individual level. When you are grateful for the opportunities that come your way—and for your ability to do the work in front of you—you are better prepared to weather the inevitable hard times.
Being grateful actually leads to a more generous spirit and an increased tendency to give—which is core to
maximizing your relevancy.
Relevancy in Action: Chick-Fil-A
There’s no better example of a culture of gratitude in business than Chick-Fil-A. With “My Pleasure” as their salutation, visitors consistently sense that they matter, they will be taken care of professionally and with a smile, and their food will meet or exceed all of their expectations. The result? Even though their stores are open 14.3% less time than their competitors, they still average more sales per square foot than any other restaurant in its category. Their grateful, generous environment breeds fierce loyalty, and the good chicken doesn’t hurt.
I—Relevant Brands Have an Inspired Difference
It’s not enough to differentiate your brand slightly from the competition. The most relevant brands continue to pursue differentiation until they’ve set themselves so far apart that they create a whole new category.
This idea of a “category of one” has been covered well by others—check out Blue Ocean Strategy,” “Made to Stick,” “Purple Cow,” or “Differentiate or Die” —and we are big believers. Finding how your business can deliver “like no one else can,” is a key pillar to maximized relevance.
Relevancy in Action: Airstream
Since 1929, Airstream’s silver bullet campers have graced American highways and along the way, they’ve created a category of one that’s worth studying. Their inspired difference? Connecting the freedom of the open road with a retro nostalgia that no one else can touch. They’ve built an entire culture around it, generating prestige for their customers and loyalty beyond compare. In return for a great product and an unmatched owners’ club, this inspired difference means they can charge 3 to 4x more than their competitors and enjoy the best margins in the business.
V—Relevant Brands Ensure Value Exceeds Price
Another key contributor to lasting brand relevance is the ability to offer value to your customers that exceeds the price they pay to experience it. The greater that value is over the price, the more important and relevant that brand can actually be to the buyer.
Relevancy in Action: Ace Hardware
Ace stores are locally owned, yet compete formidably in their own hometowns with giants like Home Depot, Lowes, and Walmart. While visitors pay a little more for the same items, they understand they are actually paying for the personalized service and know-how of their local Ace experts. And it’s well worth the up-charge. They save time, convenience, and headaches by shopping with Ace, a value they will pay more for every time.
E—Relevant Brands are on an Endless Quest
Relevance isn’t an endpoint. People change. Societies change. Environments change. Politics change. Customers’ needs and preferences change. Behaviors change. Remaining relevant amongst all this upheaval is truly a lifelong pursuit.
General Eric Shinseki, former Chief of Staff of the Army, once said, “If you dislike change, you’re going to
dislike irrelevance even more.”
Becoming and staying wildly relevant to your customers is a moving target, and it requires you and your team to always be on the lookout for what’s next. At times, it even means becoming a catalyst for change in the world and not being afraid to step into the unknown.
Relevancy in Action: Amazon
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is a perfect example of this endless quest. Since the founding of Amazon in 1994, he’s continued to pursue what’s next, to understand what is or isn’t going to be relevant to his customers, to never stop changing, to never stop improving—even when it meant losing money in the short term. From an online book storefront to a catalog of 12 million products to grocery chains, drones, and web hosting services, Bezos continues to demonstrate the pursuit of relevance for everyone in the world to see.