HomeSaaSiestWill Ballance: How to build a beloved brand through giving

Will Ballance: How to build a beloved brand through giving

Before you can get something, you often have to start by giving. One company that has excelled at creating a beloved brand – building meaningful relationships and creating raving fans through the art of giving – is Lavender AI. Will Ballance, CEO and co-founder of Lavender, sat down for a fireside chat at SaaSiest 2023 and shared his playbook for this unique approach.


  • Build relationships by consistently providing value without strings attached. Help people without hoping for an immediate return. The payoff comes indirectly down the road.
  • Look for opportunities to give your time, knowledge, and support. Don’t wait for the perfect plan – just start helping where you can.
  • Give employees autonomy to create “magic moments” that surprise and delight users.
  • Share your expertise openly rather than monetizing everything. Freely provide the knowledge people find valuable.
  • Create memorable human experiences and connections, virtually and in-person. Don’t forget the importance of face-to-face interactions.
  • Stay true to your authentic desire to help others. Avoid superficial gimmicks. Generosity must come from a place of sincerity.

How to build a beloved brand

Lavender is an AI sales email coach that helps sales teams improve their emails. Despite operating in a fairly mundane software category, Lavender has cultivated a remarkably passionate user base. One fan has even gotten an arm tattoo of Lavender’s mascot wizard tattooed – unprompted! – in a show of dedication.

Lavender’s focus on giving value to users without expectation of return has built tremendous goodwill over time. Lavender embodies this core value in several ways that can serve as an inspirational blueprint for other SaaS companies.

Providing free access to those in need

During COVID, Lavender pivoted to focus solely on sales teams as users. But their first batch of users were actually individual job seekers laid off during the pandemic. Lavender reached out to offer free access to their software to help these people land new jobs. Many eventually brought Lavender into their next sales roles. Lavender continues to offer free access to students, entrepreneurs, and the unemployed.

Sharing knowledge freely

Most sales software creators monetize and gate their data and insights. But Lavender openly shares hard-won knowledge and research for free to help the community. For example, they analyze millions of sales emails monthly but give away those learnings through content, rather than packaging it into paid courses.

Empowering the team to deliver magic moments

Every Lavender team member has a monthly budget for sending small but delightful surprises to users, such as gift cards or presents. For example, when a user shared she couldn’t fully use a trial due to getting engaged, Lavender not only extended her trial but also sent a gift card to enjoy a celebratory dinner with her fiancé. These moments create emotional connections with users.

Giving time and mentorship

As a founder, Will publicly shares his calendar for anyone to book time, whether they are a user or not. He and his co-founders also mentor salespeople who want to improve their cold outreach skills, expecting nothing in return. Lavender hires and cultivates team members who embrace this value of freely giving time and expertise.

Building in-person experiences

Lavender creates memorable in-person experiences to wow users, like throwing a surprise underground rave at a B2B tech conference. While unorthodox, moves like this generate huge buzz and goodwill. The company prioritizes bringing people together in real life to build authentic connections.

The key: Authenticity

The key is giving from a genuine desire to help, not as a calculated marketing ploy. While it takes time to see the payoff, consistently providing value breeds enormous customer loyalty over the long-term, and that translates into business success.

Other companies have tried to superficially copy some of Lavender’s tactics. But competitors miss the most crucial ingredient: a sincere commitment to generosity that starts from the top down. For any organization hoping to emulate this success, start small by looking for everyday opportunities to help and delight users without expecting anything in return.

Lavender’s story is an inspirational case study proving that even in the hyper-competitive SaaS space, building a beloved brand starts with generosity and a people-first mindset. By nourishing relationships through consistent care and value, founders can grow startups that users cherish for the long haul. And loyal customers are worth their weight in gold.

It all comes down to your ability to give: what you give, how you give, and when you give.

Hear more of Will’s inspiring stories on SaaSiest TV.

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