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Strong Brands Are Relevant
by David McNally

Take a moment to think of three people who are really important in your life. Select one from each of these categories: family, friends, and colleagues at work. Ask yourself – why do these people stand out as being so important to me?

Undoubtedly there will be several answers, all of which, however, can be summed up by one simple fact – these people contribute in a positive way to your life. Your life is better because of their presence. You can count on them, you can go to them in times of need whether that need is large or small. They express interest in you and are concerned with your well being. They deliver on their promises. They back up their words with actions.

In our book, BE YOUR OWN BRAND, Karl Speak and I name one of the three dominant characteristics of a strong brand as relevance. Relevance is what distinguishes a friend from an acquaintance. A coworker may only be relevant to the degree that what they do affects what you do. But a boss and/or mentor who takes a personal interest in your career and future, making for a far more valued and lasting relationship.

Your relevance to a client or customer is determined not only by your product or service but by how it - and you - proficiently solve their problems and meet their needs. Strong brands are not built through creative advertising campaigns. Strong brands are the result of the consistent delivery of value. This incremental process involves numerous positive interactions between a buyer and a seller.

Recently I spent a week in California dividing my time fairly evenly between two up-market hotels. In my typical fashion, I left something behind in each room. The response to my calls was so different it was astounding. At the first hotel I not only had difficulty finding someone with whom to share my problem, I then could not get anyone to call me back. Several days and several calls later I was still waiting. At the second hotel, I only had to speak with one person and I received my left-behind item within 24 hours. Two hotels, two different - 'impressions.' One now – "irrelevant" - to me, the other – "highly relevant."

Relevance involves learning a skill called thinking in reverse. If you want to be considered valuable to others, you must move out of your world into theirs. Relevance starts with considering the questions: What do they want? What do they need? What do they expect? What do they value? The sages throughout the ages have said in many different ways: "Before you can get what you want, you must first help others get what they want."

You might have gathered by now that being relevant requires effort. There is, thus, a strong aspirational element to being truly relevant to others. Webster’s defines aspiration as a "strong desire to achieve something high or great." Most people would be pleased to hear that someone had described them as a "great person." But that is not a label handed out randomly. The lesson:

Relevance is something we earn based on the importance others place on what we do for them and by their judgment of how well we do it.

Quoted from: BE YOUR OWN BRAND - David McNally and Karl Speak

Copyright David McNally. All Rights Reserved.

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