The Brand with the strongest tribe wins - Marty Neumeier
When I started HCco my aim was to build and encourage brands and discover ways to do this, but as small businesses I am sure you would agree it is often easy to get focused on the transactional things such us making a profit and forget about the non-transactional human side of business.
One of the biggest ways to build trust and community is to give back with no return in mind, we live in a very social minded advertising environment, especially with the advent of social media which makes it even easier to reach out and give back.
Often we feel vulnerable at the the thought of giving advice as we feel it take away our power, and as a designer I know this full well, I have been a creative for over 2 decades and for a while early on was very scared to share, but have come to realise that sharing content and training is one of of my biggest joys. I was reminded of this the other night and when I was training a client, he mentioned to me how awesome it is to take the brand colour PDF to the printers to get items printed, there is a feeling of confidence and empowerment there and although it part of the logo package it still felt good.
Giving back empowers, it does not take away from the from the fact that you are a professional in your field in fact it enhances the point. Giving back and being informative also helps highlight a painpoint and need that someone did not know they had and although they have been educated on it, will still need the professional to assist. You build friendships based on trust and in the same way you build community trust around your brand by giving back with no expectation in return, being real is the core of being a human brand standing for something greater. We are in this together.
Here a few ways you can be less transactional
Inform and be a helpful brand
Posting advice type article shows that are knowledgeable and passionate about your field, this builds the confidence people have your brand.
Emotional connection = trust
Keep it real, bring a bit of your personality into the brand, keep an eye on your tone and focus on customer experience rather than once off transactions.
Feedback to the community
Give time and skills to worthy causes in your community. Use your gifts/talent to uplift and empower the community.
Being a brand with a less transactional approach takes work, but pays dividents over time.