5 Ways to Jumpstart the Joinability of Your Brand

Este Lauder once said, “Women don’t buy brands — they join them.”

When I first heard that quotation, my inner geography changed forever. And I eventually came to a conclusion that has yet to be disputed:

Good brands are bought, great brands are joined.

Like my friend Jay Siefert, owner of Studio Element (pictured above).

Because of his passion for fitness, health and human potential, clients join more than his club — they join his brand.

Who’s joining yours?

Consider these ideas to jumpstart the joinability of your brand:1. Run a joinability audit. Traditional marketing is wallpaper. It’s invisible, inaudible and inconsumable. It’s appallingly uninteresting and instantly forgettable. And it interrupts people, disturbs their attention and pollutes the public space.

If you want to avoid that reality, the first step is to ask yourself five crucial questions.

*Does your brand interrupt people or involve them?
*Does your brand ask people to care, or invite people to participate?
*Does your brand demand and disturb people’s attention, or respect and reward it?
*Does your brand offer purpose-driven human uniqueness, or just a patchwork of weirdness?
*Does your brand offer real, human, experiential value at the point of consumption, or just dispense a message?

These questions aren’t just questions: They’re springboards. And they can be used in a few ways: As strategic planning tools to benchmarks to build the joinability of your brand; as benchmarks to sustain the joinability of your brand; and as filters to research the joinability of other company’s brands.

The best part: If you ask these questions enough, you’ll internalize them. And soon joinability will become second nature.

Remember: You can’t bother people into buying from you. All you can do is invite them to join you by expressing yourself fully and freely. Do the benefits of your brand transcend the transactional?

2. Identify and promote your brand’s human purpose. “All of our brands are designed with human purpose in mind,” wrote Leo Burnett. “And when our story plays a long-term role in people’s lives, it’s no longer a brand — it’s a badge. And that’s how we create lifelong emotional relationships with them.”

The cool part is, the consequence of your brand’s human purpose will be people’s participation. That’s where true joinability lives. And whether that involves in-person conversation offline, or user-generated content online, the result will be the same: Customers will move from being observers of your brand to achievers with your brand.

Why do you think Obama won the presidency? Certainly wasn’t his political resume. It was because his brand hinged on the human purpose of hope. And he knew that in tough times, people wanted to be told what was possible.

So he told them. And although he didn’t solve all the world’s problems immediately, he still ran the most successful campaign in our country’s history. Sixty-four million people joined him. They proudly wore his brand as a badge. And his story will have a long-term role in each of their lives. That’s the power of human purpose.

Remember: Your brand is your stand. What happens when people step onto it?

3. Participation is the only unit of marketing that matters. For the past eleven years, I’ve invited hundreds of thousands of people to join my brand. But not by asking them for money. And not by persuading them to join my overpriced, marginally helpful membership site.

Rather, by creating spontaneous moments of authentic human interaction, infused with a sprit of humor, playfulness and connection.

That’s what my brand does: It makes this moment, right now, a more humane, pleasant passing of time. From my handwritten nametag to my trademark philosophy card to my daily fill in the blank exercise, my goal is create simultaneous engagement and entertainment, both online and off.

What does your brand do for people? And do those people care enough about your brand to take a moment, take a picture and make a memory?

If not, you’re in trouble. Because people won’t value your brand if the experience of it doesn’t add something to their lives. And people won’t participate in your brand’s communication if they’re not rewarded them for the time they spend with it.

Your mission is simple: Let people into the moment. Induce participation. And intuitively respond to the human thirst for connection. People won’t just buy you — they’ll join you. Forever. Are you providing an opportunity for people to participate in a way that speaks to their individual needs?

4. Provide people with opportunities to act. Let’s talk more about participation. According to Leo Burnett’s book, Humankind, an act is anything that creates an emotional connection that deepens over time.

Something simple, inclusive, accessible and relevant to people’s lives. Something that gives people the gift of a quiet moment of joy. Something that connotes and reflects the brand’s human purpose. Something that enhances a moment of happiness. Something that creates excitement where apathy lives. And something that changes the momentary experience.

To identify your brand’s act, try their formula:

“I seek to create act of _______ in moments of ________.”

Creative directors Tom Bernardin and Mark Tutsel provide a list of powerful examples. Consider a few of these to begin brainstorming your brand’s act:

Interest in moments of timidity.
Confidence in moments of doubt.
Progress in moments of stagnation.
Coolness in moments of social risk.
Connection in moments of isolation.
Inspiration in moments of weakness.
Liberation in moments of constraint.
Casualness in moments of seriousness.
Encouragement in times of insecurity.
Togetherness in moments of loneliness.
Friendships in moments of indifference.

Remember: You don’t need advertisements, you need invitations to act and engage with your brand. Are you selling to people or connecting with them?

5. Let customers take the steering wheel. Joinability comes from vulnerability. That is, surrendering certain parts of your brand as the cost of growth. And a few years back, Jeff Jarvis famously wrote three words on this topic that changed everything: Become a platform.

According to his research, that’s what winning brands do: Join the post-scarcity, open-source, gift economy and remember that their best customers are their partners.

Here’s a few ways to do so for your organization: First, give users and fans the ability to create and improve your online content. They’ll become your brand spokespeople just by being themselves.

Second, enable your customers to build communities and networks under the umbrella of your platform. They’ll multiply your audience beyond what you could have accomplished alone.

Third, encourage people to build their own products and businesses connected to your brand. They’ll become your mobile sales force, global marketing department and perpetual listening platform.

As a result, they’ll elevate your platform to the point that it becomes a catapult. And then, as your brand becomes an infinite source of infinite opportunity, they won’t give joining a second thought.

Remember: Surrender is the new control. Customers want to be pilots, not just passengers. Let them control their brand experience and they’ll thank you by telling everybody. How vulnerable are you willing to be?

REMEMBER: People love to buy — but they love to belong even more.

If you want to make money, make a difference and make history, help people join your brand.

Is your brand buyable but not joinable?

For the list called, “26 Ways to Out Brand the Competition,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor

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