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Capturing and keeping your customers’ attention is critical in order to build your brand. It seems everyone is looking for the magic answer, the latest way to make an impression that lasts. Is it through direct email, Facebook posts, Instagram ads, SnapChat, TikTok? How do you stand out and more importantly, make a lasting impression?

If there is a holy grail to build your brand, it’s through generosity. Let me share a story with you.

The Jordan River runs through Israel and feeds two lakes: The Sea of Galilee and The Dead Sea. The Sea of Galilee feeds back to the river and other streams and provides nourishment and life to most of Israel. The Dead Sea, however, goes nowhere. It gives nothing back, it keeps what it is given, and is lifeless.

Both lakes are fed by the same river. One is given life and in turn gives life back, while the other takes everything it gets and maintains a barren lifeless environment.

If you want to grow, you have to give.

I don’t mean you have to give your product or services away for free. While it might build your brand it’s hardly a sustainable business model. What I’m talking about is being generous by sharing things like knowledge, time, and empathy. Think past the dollars!

So how can you practice generosity to build your brand? Here are a few thoughts and examples.

Give valuable content. Provide content that helps people, gives them ideas, provides food for thought, teaches new skills and strategies. Share your expertise to help others grow. Generating an excess of social media posts and articles just for the sake of putting content out there only adds to the noise without being memorable. Make your content count.

Share your story. Be generous with your knowledge and experience. Share who you are and how you got here. People want to know that behind your brand there is a genuine person who empathises, not a faceless entity that is out to make money. Being open and honest builds trust. Consider Richard Branson the prime example of a storytelling CEO and follow his lead.

Get creative with what you can give. Black Friday is the number one shopping day for retailers in the U.S. It’s the day that marks the start of the Christmas shopping craze with insane deals as every retailer tries to get their cut. But outdoor retailer REI does something quite the opposite to their competition – they shut their doors on Black Friday and pay their staff to get out and enjoy the outdoors and encourage their customers to do the same. Their #OptOutside campaign started in 2015 and continues to build their brand with like-minded people.

Support sustainable and environmental causes. In a similar vein to REI, outdoor retailer Patagonia donated 100% of their Black Friday profits to environmental groups. To put that in perspective, it was about $10 million in sales – five times their expected sales. Another innovative example is Thankyou Water, a company that rapidly grew by starting a consumer movement to end global poverty. It may not be realistic for your brand to give back in such grand gestures, but consider partnering with charities, giving a portion of your proceeds, or starting a volunteer program for your staff. Take a day to clean up litter or deliver items to those in need.

Remember the little things. A personal note, an unexpected gift, birthday bonuses. Our post on how to use ‘wonder gestures’ to build your brand has some fantastic outside-of-the-box ideas (free popsicles, anyone?) for engaging your customers with memorable moments.

Generosity will stick in people’s minds and encourage them to be generous, too. Giving generates good feelings, and that’s what will build your brand. It’s about sharing, giving, and growing together – like the Sea of Galilee. Adding strangers on Facebook or LinkedIn and shoving your business in their face won’t establish your brand. That’s Dead Sea behaviour, contributing nothing.

Generosity doesn’t have to involve millions of dollars or have a global impact. Even small gestures have a ripple effect and build your brand as the effect spreads. Share your personal story. Use your content to help people improve. Be creative with ways to give back.

You’ve got to give to grow.