Business is moving faster than ever and so are relationships. For brands and companies that want to grow quickly, creating brand intimacy through innovation is mission-critical.

Too many businesses get caught up in jargon-heavy social media speak and technical writing that misses the point altogether: human conversation. People do business with people. Brands that get this speak as if they were talking over coffee at a local diner. Brands that excel at this listen, understand, and go for depth, almost like dating.

Brand intimacy is about building relationships. The best brands build the best products that solve customer pains for the markets where they live. Business-to-customer marketing has become brand-to-fan conversation.  Brands that do business this way always remember that the collaboration and creativity comes full-circle: brand to innovation to consumer to product-end-life and back to raw materials or upcycling for the cycle to start again.

Innovation is also cyclic. Brands all around us are waking up to the brilliance of intimate creativity. Connecting in this way means engaging in real dialog – the two-way discussions, debates, and shared ideas that interest both them and you, all within the framework of your brand’s unique point of view. It’s all about opening up your brand’s world, fostering transparency and creating a platform for the story to unfold. Through this intimate innovation, more and more brands are establishing digital-based destinations that cultivate top ideas. Here your people, products, services, and solutions unite. The platform to share, vote, and discuss everything from feature functionality to product packaging, and from advertising messaging to store experiences is built right into the brand.

Holstee, is a top web destination started by two brothers and a friend began with simple t-shirt. Today, their story is now known nationally as the “Holstee Manifesto.” Their single-page typographic tribute to living your life and pursuing your passion has been shared by millions, inspiring others to start their own brands and support ones like Holstee.

Holstee’s innovation is as intimate as it gets. Says co-founder Mike Radparvar,  “We’ve created a private, application-only group, made up of about 60+ of our most loyal fans that want to have a say in the future of Holstee. In this group we share new design concepts, ask for feedback, and make it the first place we post new product launches or big news.” “From a product creation standpoint it’s been powerful to gain insight from this group of super-dedicated fans, but it is not just the relationship we can make between Holstee and our fans, but also valuing the relationships that can be made as a result of being part of that community.”

Kickstarter built a community too. As the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects, Kickstarter helps innovators raise money – crowdfund – from the general public. But there’s nothing general about the fans that rally around the endeavors posted on Kickstarter. Through videos, rewards, and social media, many projects have made it big with humble beginnings on this simple fundraising site.

How people learn about companies like Holstee or projects on Kickstarter is intriguing. And the highest form of learning and understanding is through teaching. So what if you could learn anything from anyone, anywhere? Skillshare is a community marketplace that enables just that: People offer classes to others on any type of skill in categories that include creative arts, culinary skills, entrepreneurship, lifestyle design, and technology. A repeatedly sold-out class, taught by Skillshare CEO and co-founder Mike Karnjanaprakorn is called “How To Launch Your Startup Idea for Less than $5000.” Skillshare is an intimate community where education and experience combine for the greater good.

Brand intimacy is building fast. Today you can learn how to develop an idea with Skillshare, fund it on Kickstarter, and even have the finished innovation curated by a company like Holstee. Innovative brands recognize that innovation isn’t only about producing and selling, but sharing and contributing value. They know that their impact drives their income and recognize that the needs of all stakeholders are just as important as the needs of the investors. Engaging intimately means connecting with these stakeholders – the consumers, customers, prospects, partners, advocates, and influencers – in authentic, human ways. Companies that have figured this out create natural communities of brand advocates and impact the world for the better.