“You are the company that you keep.” We’ve all heard it before, from parents and grandparents, teachers and mentors. Yet this maxim can extend beyond a general life lesson and be applied to your brand as it grows and grows up.
There are many facets to building a brand; one that we’ve found interesting is how the people you align yourself with—your partners, peers, key influencers and consumers—can help steer and build your brand for the better. The fact is, we wouldn’t be able to share this with you today if it weren’t for several key relationships that have helped us bring the idea of Inch x Inch to life.
We believe that small things can make a big difference. And we bring that belief to life by selling one-inch buttons to support youth art education. It’s the perfect combination; a fondness for these small-sized canvases and the desire to give back and contribute to the future.
Fortunately, we’re not alone.
Inch x Inch is a passion project, something we give our time to outside of office hours, in the nooks and crannies of everyday life. Knowing that the success of our mission depended on the funds we could donate after costs, we reached out to others to help defray costs and reduce overhead. But they did far more than make a contribution; they challenged us to rethink certain aspects of our brand. Ultimately, it was those challenges that set us up for the success we are realizing today.
What’s entertaining is that all of the relationships that we have built, that have led us to where we are today, have come organically. Our relationship with the fine folks at French Paper Co., who donate all of our packaging materials, was born out of us engaging with them on Instagram. We were able to connect with the crew at Mama’s Sauce through a workshop they gave at Creative South ’14. Busy Beaver Button Co actually came through a cold call and now they donate all of our buttons. Element Three, our full-time employer, built our site at no cost after seeing how passionate we and several other team members were about this project.
When this idea was hatched over a text message, we saw potential, but never this. These key relationships have had an immeasurable impact on us beyond their donations. Our sponsors, coworkers, and friends have helped shape our brand tremendously. Each, in their own way, has inspired us to think bigger and to view this beyond just a passion project. They have lent us instant credibility by publicly supporting us and allowing us to borrow from their brand recognition. They have promoted us on blogs, social media and at conferences, boosting our sales with every mention. They have helped us craft an amazing product while leveraging their own impressive abilities at the same time. And we haven’t even touched on the amazing artists who have
donated their artwork for our cause.
So how can you leverage relationships to help build and elevate your brand? The answers are pretty straightforward and, once again, probably sound like words of wisdom from a parent to their child.
• Be nice to everyone - You never know who you are meeting, plus mean people suck.
• Stay true to yourself - Being authentic and straightforward is crucial for building trust.
• Don’t be too proud - Keep your ears and eyes open to suggestions, other people have good ideas too.
• People are approachable - You are probably more like the people you look up to than you realize.
• Have a voice - Make yourself approachable and interact with your audience.
• Welcome help - There’s more to your brand than just you, plus everything is more fun with friends.
As Inch x Inch is less than a year old, it feels a little strange to be in a position to share these insights with you and, for that, we are grateful. We are thankful for the outpouring of support we’ve had so far and look forward to carrying this momentum into other aspects of our brand. Follow along as we continue to practice what we preach, connecting with artists from around the world to be our featured artists and expanding our site to interact with an even broader audience.
A HUGE thank you to these amazing guys doing awesome things! It just goes to show how influential genuine relationships can be in the success of your career. If you haven’t already, sign up for their monthly membership and help make a difference. While you’re at it, check out Why Packaging is Important and Why User Experience Matters.