Renya Nelson is the official branding KoolAid. One sip of her and you’ll find yourself buzzing with ideas for how your company can succeed. Her energy is infectious like that, which is pretty fortunate in her line of work where she has to translate a brand’s marketing concerns into fun, promotional products that live out in the market place.

But not so much of the we’ll put your logo on a mug and hand it out at the company picnic kind of promotional product. Her company, Brand Aid, shoots from the hip a bit more: think printing your logo on a mug, and having those mugs at a cafe, and for every person that photographs that mug and hashtags it on Instagram, they get a free coffee.

Pretty cool, right? With clients ranging from Pepsi, Levis’, BBC America and more, Renya prides herself on knowing the importance of stepping beyond the traditional — because it rarely ever works anymore. In fact, nowadays with a digitally centered culture, she finds it extra  important for brands to find ways to talk about themselves with both innovation and authenticity in mind. Here’s how:

First, Build Trust With People
So much of the great work Brand Aid is able to do, surprisingly has a lot to do with the relationships they keep. Not only do they spend time nurturing the communication with their clients, but also they also work on their relationships with manufacturers and printers. How does this affect your brand’s ability to promote itself effectively?

“The relationships are very special,” Renya says in building positive promotion for your brand. “It’s a relationship of trust. Especially with the suppliers — those are like your cousins, almost. Your clients are like your children, because you really want to protect them. And your suppliers, you become so close with them, and you need them to get you out of situations. To say ‘Hey, I’m in a bind. I need to help my child with something. And they get you out of binds and go to bat for you.”

Think about it: will your clients go to bat for you and recommend you to other companies? Will your vendors pull an all-nighter to help you deliver on a promise? Authentic word of mouth is promotion that’s really hard to buy. But when you take care of your relationships, people tend to hand out kudos and connections for free.

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