Seth Godin is often provocative. He challenges us to ask the questions that had slipped out of view but had been bothering us. He reminds us of the facts that we’d rather forget – like the importance of working smarter, not harder. Or wondering what we’d do differently if we charged people for the free stuff that hand out every day.

I’m thinking Rupert Murdoch and the future of newspapers in this instance, but apply the same logic to your brand, your masthead products and services. News Corp has been providing free online access to content for years – and continue to toy with the idea of hiving off their website behind a pay wall. Is this the right thing to do?

In my view, this isn’t the right question to ask.

I think they should do what Seth suggests, and ask themselves that hidden question. What would we have to do differently if we charged for “free”.

But what if we pushed this notion? What if we not only charged a fee, but we charged a LOT? What would we need to do to provide value in a PREMIUM model?

Marci Ikeler and Phil Jackson have put together a great presentation on digital strategy for luxury brands. They provide a great snapshot – 10 ways to engage with luxury consumers online – and all brands can take a piece of this action. I particularly like the “tell a great story”. “be a cultural tastemaker” and “provide a trusted guide …” recommendations. For your brand, take those points and push them. Don’t be all things to all people – be the best. Be the most trusted. Be the authority. Set the agenda. And lead the way for your followers. Sounds simple, right? Well enough talking then, show me what you’ve got.

It’s time we all thought about our brands as the luxuries our customers can’t live without!