One of the most dominant characteristics of a strong brand whether corporate or personal is relevance. Facebook became an “iconic” brand in a breathtakingly short time through tapping into the highly relevant human need for connection. Relevance distinguishes a close friend from an acquaintance. If a leader takes a personal interest in your career and future, he or she becomes very relevant to you professionally, perhaps even falling into the category of mentor.

To a client or customer, relevance is determined by how your product and service proficiently solves their problems and meets their needs. To stay relevant, however, those needs must be met time and time again. Understand that brand awareness is the result of creative advertising and effective promotion, but brand strength is built through numerous, relevant interactions between buyer and seller.

Relevance involves a process called: thinking in reverse. It requires a genuine desire to understand the world of those with whom you wish to be perceived as relevant. This means being willing to consistently pursuing four questions: What do they want? What do they need? What do they expect? What do they value? It’s no accident that customer satisfaction surveys are now so prolific. Customer complacency leads to customer desertion.

Innovation, in any business, is primarily motivated by the need and desire to not only stay relevant, but also to become even more relevant. In others words, moving your customers from liking your company to loving your company! But, to deepen your understanding of why relevance is a key characteristic of a strong brand, let’s get personal. Think of someone who is very important in your life. Ask yourself: why is this individual so important?

Undoubtedly there will be several answers, all of which can be categorized simply – this person adds value to your life. Your life is better because of their presence. You can count on them. They deliver on their promises. Their interest in you is experienced as genuine. Are these answers not analogous to a company, or product or service that inspires you to do business with them time and time again?

There is a strong aspirational element to relevance. Webster’s defines aspiration as a “strong desire to achieve something great.” This is a wake-up call to those who wish to succeed in the world. As individuals, what are we doing to sustain and build our relevance with our employers and our clients? What are we reading, what are we learning, what new insight or piece of knowledge do we have today that we didn’t have yesterday? How can our contribution be so relevant to the success of our organization that we are perceived as invaluable?

Relevance is, most importantly, a reflection of one’s attitude towards life. Norman Lear, the legendary television producer, is working on revivals of the original sitcoms he created. But get this—he’s 94! However, his perspective is that life always provides endless opportunities for growth. Quoted in AARP Magazine, he states: “I’ve had new insights about myself in the past six months. It’s the most delicious of surprises.”

Most companies or individuals would be delighted to hear that they had been described as “great.” But that label is not 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.” 

Quote source: BE YOUR OWN BRAND, available here.