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As one of the founding members of David’s Tea, I was able to see the tremendous growth of the brand that started seven years ago with a simple idea.Tibor Kolley/The Globe and Mail

As one of the founding members of DavidsTea, I was able to see the tremendous growth of the brand that started seven years ago with a simple idea. Here are some ways you can ensure your brand always stays fresh and relevant:

1. Hang on to your talent. One of the best early decisions we made was to keep our creative team in-house. They live and breathe our brand every single day, and this gives them a sense of ownership and pride which both drives them to preserve the brand – and to make it better. And since they're plugged in to the evolution and growth of the company, they intuitively know when to lay low and when to shake things up.

2. Embrace feedback. Give your team members a direct communication channel and listen to their ideas. It's no surprise that some of the most creative and relevant input comes from the people in the field, interacting with your customers day in and day out. Best of all, it helps foster engagement and critical thinking at every level of the company. We empower our store managers to think creatively and share their ideas, and they are some of our most active contributors.

3. Turn your fans into friends. To today's consumer, your social media approach says a lot about you as a brand. When you listen to your fans, you turn everyday customers into brand advocates – and sounding boards for new ideas. Our social media team works around the clock to make sure our fans feel welcomed and listened to. Our channels have become a sharing ground not just for complaints, but also jokes, ideas and some pretty amazing and inspiring stories.

4. Let your personality shine. Don't just talk to people, engage with them. A fun, personable brand voice is one of the best ways to consistently connect with your customers. Cultivate a tone that fits who you are as a company – for us, that means keeping casual, chatty and at times cheeky. Whatever works for you, just be sure to single out what differentiates you and stick to it! Keeping your tone consistent makes your communications feel like they're coming from a friend – not just a brand.

5. Keep evolving. But before you start changing, make sure you can stay consistent where it matters most. Zero in on the things that differentiate you, and stay true to those values. Then know you can switch up just about anything else. This has been in our brand DNA from the very beginning. In our early days, our co-founder Herschel Segal told us that "Who we are should never change, but how we do things should always change." That concept is at the heart of how we grow and evolve as a brand.

6. Live by your values. Your customer experience and brand identity are just as important as the product you sell. That's why you'll find tea-scented candles and lip butter on our shelves, but maybe not a high-end aged pu'erh. People come to us for fun and a smile…not a history lesson. Another great recent example: Volvo just launched a reflective spray to help make cyclists more visible. That's because they're not just in the car business, they're in the safety business.

7. Live by your product, too. It's easy to get caught up in marketing and branding, but don't lose sight of your product. Nothing undermines your brand identity faster than a slip in quality or failure to innovate. We're always looking at new ways to make tea fun and easy. Earlier this year, we introduced a matcha shaker, which actually makes matcha insanely fun to make. That product got every single person in the company excited, from the head office to the store staff. And as we keep dreaming up new creations, quality control has become more important than ever.

8. Think local. By showing your local customers that you listen and care, you're changing them from customers to friends. We engage with every neighbourhood we're in on a store by store basis. From local events to charitable contributions and sponsorships, we try to stay plugged in to the needs and priorities of each and every community. Giving each store a voice helps us become increasingly diverse as we continue to grow.

9. Make yourself nervous. This is one of our most important rules of branding and probably the hardest to live by. But whether it's a risqué e-mail subject line an out-there product idea or an untested new hire, don't be afraid to leave your comfort zone. If you never make yourself nervous, you aren't pushing the envelope. Safe is boring.

10. You can always do better. The bottom line? Don't rest on your laurels. Especially not when it comes to community involvement and sustainable practices. From responsible sourcing to local events, we always strive to push ourselves to do better for our customers, our communities, our planet and each other. Of course we celebrate our milestones and achievements, but every time, the first question we ask ourselves is "what's next?"

Kim Wiseman is the head of customer engagement at DAVIDsTEA. Today DAVIDsTEA has over 150 stores across Canada and the US and offers over 150 types of tea. With colourful, modern packaging, sleek in-house designed tea accessories and a friendly, welcoming attitude, DAVIDsTEA offers a tea experience that is fun, fresh and unintimidating.

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