Last Minute Gifts that Twist

There’s nothing better than giving a gift that’s really loved and gets remembered. Stand out among the heaps of gift cards, certificates, and traditional (but boring) sweaters by surprising your friends and family with a unique gift that TWISTS:

 

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60-Hour Candle – This candle literally twists! It twists around the stand and is a unique take on lanterns of long ago. It burns up to 60 hours, ensuring your gift will long be shining bright!

 

 

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Clocky Alarm Clock – No more hitting the “snooze” button with this clock. Clocky twists where no clock has twisted before – when the alarm sounds, it literally runs away from you! Helping the receiver get up and at ‘em and seize the day.

 

 

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EOS  - Evolution of Smooth – Lotions – These organic, natural and paraben-free lip balm, lotions, shave cream and limited edition and charity collections are a joy not only to use but just to look at. The products come in unique shapes and colors – and we love how the Lip Balm opens with a twist!

 

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Lokai Bracelet – A twist from the highest mountain and deepest sea. The Lokai bracelet’s white bead has water from Mount Everest; the black bead holds mud from the Dead Sea, symbolizing that when you hit a low it’s important to stay hopeful and when you’re on top that you stay humble. 10% of net profits go to charity.

 

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Lonely Planet’s 1000 Ultimate Experiences Book - The ultimate chair-side travel experience. This book gives you 1,000 ultimate experiences without leaving your house… and if you do want to actively travel, you won’t want to leave home before checking out the book for some amazing travel twists.

 

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The Brand-growing Gift – Give the gift that helps the entrepreneur, business owner or artist, in your life grow their business. Help them twist their brand to the top! Brand School is the premier branding program with highly effective tips, tools and insight to grow a stronger personal or business brand. Get more information about our upcoming session and a free Brand Health Check (worth $500) HERE.

An Inspiring Entrepreneurial Twist that Warmed Our Hearts

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We are always looking for the twist – that little something special that opens our minds to new ways solving old problems. This entrepreneurial twist is one of the most inspiring we’ve seen.

Insight + invention + inspiration = Veronika Scott and The Empowerment Plan.

Having experienced homelessness, college student Veronika wanted to create something that would help serve that community as part of a design class assignment. She created a coat that converts to a sleeping bag – a truly innovative concept.

During the prototype testing, a woman yelled at her, berating her for this “band aid” solution, when what homeless people really need are jobs. That’s when Veronika decided to start her own production company and employ the very population she really wanted to reach. At The Empowerment Plan, workers are taught the skills they need to empower their lives while creating products that help others.

Insight came from her personal experience; invention came from her college design class assignment; and inspiration came from listening to the perspective of her target. Well done, Veronika!

What can your small business do by combining insight + invention + inspiration?

In Brand School, students go beyond category boundaries, take lessons from successful brands and twist them with their own business to innovate and serve the consumer who really needs a new choice. See what Brand School can do for you.

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“Brand School was helped us set structure to our process, define our target and recognize our customer’s motivations. We were able to create timely taglines and better-defined branding campaigns.” - Randi Curhan, Development Coordinator for Redwood High School Foundation, Non-profit

Baby Bottles, Bluetooth and Busy Parents

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We are living in a “hands free” world. With the invention of Bluetooth technology we are able to operate just about everything without having to hold onto it. But a busy mom or dad will tell you that you need to have one, if not both, hands on board to feed a bottle to an infant – and there are many times when that’s difficult to manage. What parents need is an innovation in bottle-feeding that will make their lives easier. So what if you took a typical baby bottle and TWISTED it with a Bluetooth hands-free device? Enter Podee®, the original hands-free bottle-feeding system. This can be used in strollers, car seats or anywhere parents need an extra hand for feeding baby.

This is a good example of how knowing your customer can lead to innovations to make their lives easier. Podee understood what a busy parent really needed and they innovated to create a revolutionary, stand-alone bottle feeder and line of accessories that benefit both of their ideal customers – parents and baby.

Brand School Master Class gives you the tools you need to zero-in on your ideal customer and create the next brand TWIST that will take your business further. Enrolling now HERE.

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“Brand School was helped us set structure to our process, define our target and recognize our customer’s motivations. We were able to create timely taglines and better define our branding campaigns.” - Randi Curhan, Development Coordinator for Redwood High School Foundation, Non-profit

Entrepreneur Conversations

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We love it when we find enriching resources for entrepreneurs and business owners, and we love sharing them with you. If you have not come across Entrepreneur Conversations radio show with Christine Monaghan, allow us to introduce you. This podcast series is designed to spark, inspire and motivate your inner strength to cultivate a thriving business model by bringing you the wisdom, stories and experience of successful entrepreneurs.

Here is an inspiring conversation with Christine and BrandTwist Founder & CEO and Founder of Brand School, Julie Cottineau on business and branding creativity, challenges faced by entrepreneurs – and their solutions.

Listen to the interview below – and then head on over to Entrepreneur Conversations Radio Show site and get inspired with Christine and other successful entrepreneurs and business owners.

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“Brand School helped me get the business’ name, brand promise and message clear. I think it speaks perfectly to my target audience, thank you… And thanks also for the networking opportunities which have led to big support in my emerging business.” - Nell Panero, Education Consultant

 

Innovative Connecting at 35,000 Feet

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Since commercial airlines became popular in the 50’s nothing much has changed. Unless you are on a luxury jet, most of us sit like anonymous sardines. We believe the airline industry is ripe for innovation and we often tell the true story of how we created the innovation TWISTING technique through a mix up with a McDonald’s mirage at Newark airport a few years ago.

When we do this TWISTING exercise in workshops and Brand School we often ask participants to imagine what would happen if a traditional airline like Delta would twist with an iconic brand like Starbucks – how would the airline experience become more innovative? Most respondents say that it would be great if we could have more convivial seating and make more meaningful connections on airlines, like we do at Starbucks. After all, Starbucks is not about coffee, it’s really about community.

We’re wondering if maybe the folks from Delta have been reading our BrandTwist blog or sneaking into the workshops, because they recently launched “Innovation Class” - a mentoring program at 35,000 feet that allows people to travel with innovators and use the flight time for valuable business connections.

Looking outside of your category for inspiration is one of the best ways to create fresh ideas and stand out in your market.

What iconic brand can your business TWIST with to reach new heights?

Brand School Master Class inspires innovative thinking to implement TWISTS like these that can broaden your business’ reach. Enrolling now – see if your brand qualifies HERE.

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“Brand School turned out to be like the Mastercard commercial, priceless.The one-on-one sessions really allowed me to go deep into what my practice was about and how to implement it” - Sandeep Manchanda, Giraffe Partners Program Management

Engage Your Target With a Gaming Twist

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Game-playing is here to stay, ask any millennial. Games are engaging and can help get your brand message across while entertaining your target.  Gabe Zichermann, author The Gamification Revolution writes in his blog about his experience at a doctor’s visit where he was asked to take a lung capacity breath test. This test, which requires some effort and used to be rather boring, is now conducted using a video game interface that energizes an otherwise tedious experience. It’s as if the American Lung Association was TWISTING with XBox.

Games make your service or product accessible, inviting and friendly – and they don’t need to be complicated or technically intricate. There are app-building courses and programs like MIT App Inventor that can help you create a simple game.

How can your small business or non-profit use gamification to energize your brand and engage your customers?

Brand School Master Class inspires your creative thinking to implement TWISTS like these that can make it easier for customers to enjoy experiencing your business or product and spread the word about your brand. Enrolling now – see if your brand qualifies HERE.

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“I got so much out of Brand School. My business has grown leaps and bounds, and I feel like I have much more solid branding and language around what I do. So, thank you!!” - Nathalie Lussier, natalielessier.com

Viora: Twisting the Coffee Mug for a Better Sipping Experience

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If you thought there wasn’t any more room in the coffee industry for another innovation, think again. Meet Viora. Viora was developed when the founders expressed their personal dissatisfaction with the current coffee to-go experience and decided to do something about it. What was missing? The convenience of coffee on-the-run in a portable cup was lacking the tangible and sensuous experience of sipping from a ceramic mug.  So they decided to solve this problem. The result? A TWIST on the blah, sensory-deprived, to-go paper cup lid to make it more like of an indulgent, sensuous experience like the Red Door Spa by Elizabeth Arden.  According to the product’s website: “the Viora Lid drinks like a cup, unlocks flavor, and eliminates annoying splashes”.

Personal dissatisfaction breeds innovation. Notice your own frustrations and inspirations, and think, “How could I incorporate these lessons into my brand’s experience?” And remember – there’s always room for a better, brighter and more efficient – everything.

Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program, will provide you the tools to create fresh ideas and help you see ways your brand may be able to address an unmet need to make it easier for consumers to say “yes” to giving you a try.  See if your business qualifies for our next semester HERE.

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“I learned a lot from Brand School.  It inspired me to think outside the box. I have a much deeper understanding of how to effectively build a brand.” - Mike Sass, Entrepreneur

Twist Up Your Space – Wake Up Your Brand

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Many entrepreneurs tell us it’s a challenge to stay motivated. When you work day-in and day-out on the same business in the same category it’s hard to keep the fresh ideas flowing. How do you rejuvenate your self and your creativity to stay in the zone?

SHAKE UP YOUR SPACE.

Most of the time we’re on auto-pilot, always stopping at the same coffee shop, the same take-out place, even taking the same exact route to and from work each day. This kind of familiarity can be comforting – but it can also be the enemy of creativity. Shaking things up can give you big-time business breakthroughs. Seek out new environments – even if it only means changing the layout of your office. Move your desk to another corner of the room; face the window instead of the door or vice versa. For even better results – get inspired by Kiva. This microfinance organization gives employees “No-Meeting Tuesdays.” Workers have the option to work from somewhere else or from home. You can do the same – get out of your office all together and spend a few hours every week working from somewhere new, like a coffee shop, shared work space, local library, or even your own backyard.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE TWISTS TO STAY MOTIVATED AND INSPIRED?

Brand School is a unique brand-learning program that teaches best practices of successful large and small brands and shows you how to leverage lateral thinking and apply those practices to freshen up your business or personal brand. See if your brand qualifies for our next session HERE.

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“Motivational! I’ve given recommendations to several clients about Brand School.” - Liz Osting, Founder Herucliz Design

A Tiffany’s Twist With FARE Halloween Pumpkins

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Nonprofits and small businesses have big challenges getting brand attention. An innovative TWIST can go a long way toward getting your brand recognized and embraced.

Take a look at this clever TWIST from nonprofit FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education nonprofit). Halloween is a particularly dangerous holiday for children with food allergies, so FARE found a clever way to get attention. Instead of simply broadcasting an awareness campaign, they added this TWIST: They used an iconic color to break through. They also drove engagement by inviting user participation.

Families wishing to be identified as “food allergy friendly” were invited to place a teal pumpkin on their doorstep or a computer print out on their window to identify their house as one that  hands out  out allergy-safe treats like toys, puzzles, games, or books,

They made it easy for kids to get involved by offering free downloads of promotional materials like pumpkin templates.

While the teal pumpkin idea was not specifically influenced by Tiffany’s (Teal has always been the identified color of food allergy awareness) We love the inspirational TWIST that a teal pumpkin is like a Tiffany’s box, which means that when you see it, you immediately know something special awaits.

What can your small business or non-profit TWIST with to create more impact and more engagement?

At Brand School, the premier brand-learning program for small businesses, nonprofits and entrepreneurs, we don’t simply teach you the brand facts; we invite you to become an active participant. You have access to an exclusive group of like-minded business owners who support and encourage one another. Find out how your business can benefit from Brand School HERE.

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“Brand School’s guidance and support has helped grow my business to new depths of expansion, creativity and financial worth… and keep it growing and transforming to passionately share what I love with others.” - Deborah Coulter, deborahcoulterartflow.com

Hit the Mic with Stacey Harris and Julie Cottineau

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We are excited to bring you this series of podcasts from Social Media Expert and Brand School Social Media Faculty Advisor Stacey Harris. This is a free series of talks with BrandTwist Founder & CEO Julie Cottineau about how to make your brand really stand out. They discuss ways to make branding decisions easier and how to take what the big brands do and apply their twists to your brand to build stronger, more profitable businesses – even in a crowded marketplace.

Stacey is a Brand School graduate and we are really excited to now have her as a member of the Brand School Facutly. Stacey’s site, TheStaceyHarris.com, is full of social media marketing insight, podcasts featuring chats with business experts, and courses to help you get more bang from your social media effort.

SO GET READY for tons of branding, marketing and business innovation takeaways – listen to the podcasts here:

Brands That Stand Out with Julie Cottineau – Episode 101 

Better Branding with Julie Cottineau – Episode 27 

TAP INTO THE KNOWLEDGE

Connecting with other business owners or entrepreneurs is an effective way to keep your business ideas fresh. In Brand School Master Class you connect with an exclusive community of like-minded business owners and entrepreneurs that support one another and share inspirations to stay on track and bring fresh ideas to market. We’re enrolling now. See if your brand qualifies.

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“Working with Julie is an invaluable experience and a really great use of resources because it opens up so many doors and affects so many areas of  your business.” - Sarah Hinawi, Executive Director, The Purple Crayon Center for Learning and Innovation

Duck, Duck, Twist?

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You’re not the only one – there are plenty of ducks in the pond – and they’re all cute. So how do you stand out? Duck, duck, TWIST! Here are three top twists that you can implement right now that will help you create a more memorable brand:

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF TOUCHPOINTS:

Chipotle’s packaging on their cups and bags contains “passionate ramblings” such as, “I think we could be really good together” paired with a picture of a burrito. This is an engaging TWIST which separates them from the fast food pack. Break out in your category by taking advantage of overlooked moments and materials to send on-brand messages. Packing slips, invoices and receipts, outside AND inside shopping bags and packages make great places for an inspirational and unique note of thanks.

CURATE AN EASIER WAY TO SAMPLE YOUR BUSINESS

Draw inspiration from Birchbox who created an entire company around making it easier for shoppers to try out new products. Make it easier for customers to sample and appreciate your products or services. Include a little SWAG like a sticker, pen, trial size or discount coupon with orders. A price bundle that includes an “entry level” or trial period can make a potential consumer feel more at ease trying your services out.

PLAY UP YOUR LOCATION:

These two successful hotels mastered the power of location to stand out among big chain competitors. Don’t be afraid to be local. Celebrating where you come from can help you get noticed – and help people identify with what you are offering. Have local maps available online and in-house and offer post cards that show your location. Connect with local tourism departments and travel agencies. Partner with neighboring businesses and offer to swap discount coupons or affiliate referral offers.

REMEMBER:

There is no touch point too small, no free sample that isn’t appreciated and no local watering hole that isn’t a gathering place for those in the know… just add your brand’s unique TWIST to fly above the flock.

What are some TWISTS you could use to increase your brand’s reach?

Brand School Master Class – Enrolling now. See if your brand qualifies.

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“I’ve been able to take a look at the professionalism I offer and have been able to raise my prices to a level of which I didn’t have before.” - Ned Towle, Founderer Westchester Wine School

Twisting With Your Ex

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What do you get when you take an online dating site and TWIST it with Mercedes Benz Certified Pre-Owned vehicles?  People who would love to shout out to the world that they know a classy, quality ex partner, brother, sister, cousin or best friend who would make a perfect match for… someone else.

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There are so many dating sites out there, it can be a challenge to to find a twist that makes your business stand out, but take a look at what greatexboyfriends.com is doing: they put a TWIST on the age-old problem of finding the perfect match. They took the tried-and-true, traditional process of match-making (being set up by an family member or friend) and brought it into the tech & social media-savvy present century. Users are able to learn what makes a potential match so exquisite and why they would be a perfect catch directly from people who really know best: relatives, ex lovers, friends and roommates. Clients get to see prospects through another’s eyes. Simply by inviting users – and their circle of friends and family – to share their intimate perspectives, greatexboyfriends.com opened a whole new dimension in an overly-saturated market.

How could you apply a TWIST like this in your business and leverage knowledgeable influencers to invite your customers to take a test drive and fall in love with your brand?

Brand School Master Class – Enrolling now. See if your brand qualifies.

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 “I learned a lot from Brand School.  It inspired me to think outside the box. I have a much deeper understanding of how to effectively build a brand.” - Mike Sass, Entrepreneur

4 Unconventional Ways to Build Buzz Around Your Brand

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With everyone sharing, tweeting and updating as much as they can, how can your business stand out? How can you draw your customer in and build buzz around your brand?

Advertising streams and social channels are loaded with quality content, information, inspiring quotes and the newest tips to make life better, but consider that consumers are looking for even more than that. Customers want to be actively connected with your business and be a part of what makes your brand unique.  We’ve taken a look at four surprising ways that some clever brands have twisted their social media campaigns and gone beyond the usual hashtags to cut through the static, draw in brand followers and make a memorable impression in a crowded market.

Read on to find our four unconventional tips.

1. GIVE RECOGNITION TO YOUR FANS 

If you’ve got people discussing your brand, give them some props! Go beyond re-blogging, retweeting, liking, commenting, and following back. One of the beautiful things about social media is that it allows you to reward followers with recognition – and they, in turn, will reward you with circulating your kindness throughout their social communities. Consider what Taco Bell’s doing: sending a gift package to fans that reach out to them. This strategy can be especially effective when marketing to teens and other very enthusiastic users of social media. Depending on your budget, it can be as grand as tickets to a concert or show or as simple as a photo, badge, sticker or certificate.

2. GET WEIRD 

One reliable way to get noticed is by behaving in a way followers would not expect from you. Get a little weird! It’s important not to go off brand on this, so it’s vital to think about where your brand fits, and whether or not it could stand a little weirdness added to it. If your brand sells a sweet soda or drink, sure, be funny! If you’re a health insurance company, this approach may not be on par with your business’ tone of voice.

If you’re wondering where to start with this approach, start with asking: where do people want to be amused? This can be a lot of fun! You could be inspired by Old Spice and transform yourself into a super character who answers questions from his adoring fans. The point is to add a little whimsy to your brand to entertain and delight your followers.

3. CROWDSOURCE A DECISION 

One great way to engage your fans and build buzz is to let them in on a decision. Ask them how to solve or fix a problem, to name a new product or service, or even something as small and inconsequential as a color scheme.

Take the Lego brand, for example. It has had a long-standing tradition of innovation, as well as sharing that innovation with their fans, young and old. And as Lego began to become more aware of the amount of adult fans they have attracted over the years, they believed it would be engaging to implement some of these fans’ ideas into their target market of children. Then, in 2005, the Lego Ambassador Program was created, which has allowed the company and its fans to continue connecting with each other, also creating a win-win situation for both Lego and their customers.

Open to new ideas, technologies and potential business partnerships, the Lego Group’s program gave a new meaning to the term “user-generated content”, meaning that not everything needs to be created internally. Because they paid attention to fans, the brand has discovered and implemented new ways to reach new markets without having to sustain long-term fixed costs. And as for the fans, working together with one of the most well-known brands of their childhood gives them the opportunity to influence Lego’s business decisions.

Your followers will be thrilled to participate in the decision-making process and love feeling like they have a say in what happens with their favorite brand. At the end of the process, don’t forget to loop back to #1 and give them recognition for all their hard work!

4. SPOTLIGHT EMPLOYEES

As you may already know, your employees are going to be your business’s greatest assets. Just like your customers, when employees’ needs are met it helps to keep a business running successfully. And if they’re happy enough, you can turn your loyal employees into valuable brand advocates. Considering the fact that regular employees have more credibility than CEOs themselves, many consumers are more likely to trust personal recommendations than they are ads. With this in mind, it’s vital to ensure that your employees are representing your brand in the most positive way.

According to Duncan Gilman, Dean of Students at Spalsh Media U, it doesn’t necessarily have to take a lot to get an employee excited about doing social media for your brand. In fact, he actually managed to create a “spy game” out of it. The objective of the game is to discover five online mentions of the brand, and the first person to find the five wins. In addition to highlighting the importance of social media listening, it also gives your employees a deeper understanding of the brand’s online reputation.

Using these mentions, a brand can re-share and repurpose the content circulating it across their own channels. Brands benefit when their employees start the initial wave on social media, and having your employees take the time to explore the brand in a fun and engaging way to do it is one of the best ways for consumers to become familiar with you. Furthermore, social engagement helps to build pride among team members. If they are proud of what their brand stands for, they will be more inclined to share. And, it’s always a good idea to consider putting an employee social media policy in place.

Simply put, if your employees are performing well and are keeping customers happy, then it’s important to recognize them for their achievements. Keeping motivation high within your team is essential and even the smallest rewards can go a long way.

UNCONVENTIONAL BRINGS INNOVATION 

In the crowded world of social media, everyone is competing for limited views. There are only so many words that a user will read every day, but by trying these TWISTS, your brand can navigate the waters of social media anonymity and build some real buzz! Happy tweeting!

From Social Media to Intellectual Property Law to Taglines and Photographic Content, see what our expert team of Brand School Faculty Advisors can do for your business and brand. Learn about our next semester and see if your business qualifies for our complimentary Brand Health Check Strategy Session HERE.

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See more entries in our social media blog series HERE.

About the Author:

Dave Landry is an online journalist, personal finance counselor, and entrepreneur in Southern California. When he is not sharing his advice on debt management, he enjoys writing about social media marketing, the impact of business globalization on the global economy, business communications, and technology.

If you would like to be a BrandTwist guest blogger, please contact Jamie@brandtwist.com

Five Tips For An Effective Social Media Strategy

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When designing a social media strategy it is important to know what your goal is and who you are trying to reach. Read through these five tips to ensure that your strategy is a success:

KNOW YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE. 

Before running a social media campaign it is vital for a business or organization to thoroughly understand their target demographic and keep in mind that they are selling emotion to their audience. A company that sells family cars wants to sell the image of being safe, reliable and secure so those emotions need to be conveyed within their social media campaign.

A company that runs an excellent social media campaign is Innocent Drinks and this is because (you guessed it) they know their target audience.

This UK company uses fresh fruit and natural ingredients in their juice/smoothie range and donates ten percent of their profits to charity. They regularly tweet pictures of wildlife and nature because they understand that their consumers are heath-conscious and eco-conscious people.

Another company that understands their target audience is Red Bull. Red Bull provides a boost of energy and caffeine that increases the heart rate, yet a cursory glance at their Facebook/Twitter pages tells us little about their actual products. Instead they post images of skateboarding, surfing, skydiving, snowboarding, wakeboarding and the other types of extreme sports they sponsor. This is to appeal to the athletes and adrenalin junkies who want a drink that can match their lifestyle.

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HOW TO MANAGE UPDATES? 

An effective social media campaign should involve regular updates throughout the day. “Content is King” but what that content is depends on the business itself. As a general rule, it is important for a business to keep up with news related to their niche. If the Grammy’s were approaching and a record company failed to tweet about it, they would not only look unprofessional but would be missing out on a huge opportunity to spark discussion. These trends aren’t just focused on current affairs and events but also on factors such as seasonal changes. During a recent heat wave in the UK, Innocent took to Twitter to give tips on how to turn their juices into delicious lolls (aka: ice pops). This is the perfect update as it is a friendly piece of advice that advertises the product and sparks discussion from those enjoying the weather.

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INTERACTION – FINDING YOUR BUSINESS VOICE. 

When customers respond to an update or ask a question then it is important for any company to reply as it strengthens the bond between company and consumer.

These interactions should always be polite in tone but the nature of the comments depends on the character of the business. Lets refer back to Innocent Drinks – on all of their products they write quirky jokes and random facts and they uphold this tongue-in-cheek attitude on their social media profiles. A specific online presence gives the company a human side that consumers can trust, thus a solid relationship is built. This online persona should stay the same across each social media platform.

Red Bull repliess to users on their Facebook and Twitter profiles and they often provide  links to extreme sports videos that their fans may be interested in.

It can even be beneficial to provide the occasional link to other websites. This helps to build company trust, and nothing is more tiresome than constant self-promotion. Providing these links may also lead to companies linking back to you in return.

CONSISTENCY, PRESENTATION AND PROOFREADING.

One thing that customers trust is consistency. A brand cannot suddenly change its image by using a drastically different font or speaking with a new tone of voice. Color is another factor to take into account; for example a page for Coca Cola shouldn’t contain more green than it does the colors they are known for, their logo colors of red and white.

Companies must be consistent in keeping track of what they have already posted; nothing screams “unprofessional” like reposting the same content too frequently or radically outdated content.

All content should contain immaculate spelling and grammar. Slang language is fine provided the character of the brand is informal but an unfortunate spelling or image mishap could cause great offence to an audience. A simple word could become a swear word or an innocent image could become not so innocent if there is something inappropriate happening in the background. Numerous companies have fallen into these traps and learned the importance of hiring a keen-eyed editor to scrutinise every image before publication. In cases where oversights have been made, an immediate apology is always the best option. Multiple companies have tried to deny mistakes and it has always backfired.

BE CAREFUL WHO YOU EMPLOY.

It is vital to employ the right people to take care of your social media campaign. A quick search on the Internet would bring up plenty of examples of employees who thought they were logged in to their personal social media accounts and ended up slandering the company in the company’s own account. This has taught companies to do thorough background checks on who they employ, taking time to call that person’s past employers and ensure that they are highly professional. And remember, who you employ speaks for your business. Your employees are the ultimate brand representative, so be sure they are a brand “fit”, understand your brand promise and are open to learning how you expect them to deliver on it.

Learning how to define your brand promise and your target customer are vital to defining your brand. In Brand School, the premier learning program for small businesses, non profits, and entrepreneurs, we cover how to do that and more. Find out how your business may benefit from Brand School HERE.

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See more entries in our social media blog series HERE.

About the author:

This article was written by Kimberley Thompson, copywriter at Gloc Media. Kimberley loves to write, travel, sing and spends her hours at the voice over recording studio.  On Twitter she’s KimThompsonUK.

If you would like to be a BrandTwist guest blogger, please contact Jamie@brandtwist.com

Keep Your Eye on the Customer and Brand Like Warby Parker

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Warby Parker, is a brand with its eyes on its customers’ needs. It has grown in just 4 years from an e-commerce-only business to having retail locations in ten cities throughout the U.S. They’ve sold over 500,000 eyeglasses and distributed over a million, world-wide. What lessons can your brand learn by twisting with this innovative brand?

Founder David Gilboa along with his Wharton Business School friends Neil Blumenthal, Andrew Hunt, and Jeffrey Raider set out to challenge the conventional eyeglass business model, but couldn’t imagine they’d achieve so much success, in such a short time.

How were they able to innovate, compete, grow a loyal following and create customers who can’t stop raving about the brand in such a short time? Here are some key takeaways from Warby Parker that you can apply to your business to help keep your brand in the focus of your customer’s eye:

SEE WHAT IS MISSING – AND DO IT!

Look Through Your Customer’s Lens: Warby Parker’s founders took the frustrations they often experienced when shopping for eyeglasses and innovated their brand to offer what they would rather experience: lower costs, ease of access, transactions with no risk and no surprises, and classic, fashionable styles that won’t go out of date in a year.  If you were a customer of your business, what changes would you want to see? Have a friend or two do a Brand Experience Audit: they “shop” your business, make notes about their what they like and also where they feel confused or disappointed and report back to you.

Make Life Easier: By handling their own manufacturing, cutting out the middle-men retailers, and using in-house designers, Warby Parker was able to undercut most of the competition, sometimes by hundreds of dollars a pair. Plus, they put a TWIST into their pricing: One price of $95, for non-prescription, and one price of $150, for prescription, period – no surprises. Is there a way you could simplify your customer’s purchasing experience? Consider “package bundle” or “two-for” pricing, or rounding to the nearest dollar so shoppers can price-compare easily.

Eliminate the Risk: Their online “Virtual Try On” program permits you to upload a picture of yourself and “virtually try on” frames. And with the no-risk “Home Try-On” offer you can order 5 pairs to try on at home 100% free. An always-free shipping and return policy means you never have pay for what you don’t want. And Warby Parker will even contact your doctor for you if you don’t have your script handy. What could you do to take the risk out of trying your brand? Money back guarantees are great, but can you go further. Help them experience what it would be like to own your product. Can you offer “sample” sizes or programs that your customers can “try on”? 

Make Your Mark – Everywhere: All eyeglasses sold by Warby Parker are the Warby Parker brand and carry their logo. In-house designers create styles that stand the test time with classic designs that make you look fashionably good, look smart, and feel great. What touch points can you put your brand, tagline, or colors on to get noticed? Cash register receipts, pencils, pens, shopping bags, gift boxes and shipping boxes, websites, online social sites and emails can all carry your branding.

LOOK GOOD, DO GOOD

Connect Deeper: People do business with people – even if it’s an online shop. Customers want to connect and trust on a deeper level. Warby Parker focuses on walking the walk, and gaining your trust. They are all about sharing what has meaning for them, and they’ve made it even easier for you to feel good and be a part of a larger community, simply by shopping. Their Do Good policy guarantees a pair of eyeglasses is distributed to someone in need with every pair purchased. What part of your brand story or life is important to you and how can you bring that further into your customer’s experience? You could sponsor a local charity drive or kid’s sports team. Let customers know of your staff’s community service involvement and keep them informed of opportunities to contribute.

Keep Walking the Walk: Warby Parker further reinforces their brand commitment to great design and humanitarian importance by introducing specially designed lines where a portion of sales is donated to programs with a purpose, like this promotion currently running for Architecture for Humanity. Are you innovating? Even though things may be humming along it doesn’t mean you can slack off on innovation. Innovation is key. Even if you can’t add inventory or product, you can make little changes, like adding a new color to a line, running a limited edition product, or share the cost and partner in a promotion. Contests or giveaways are a fun way to stay fresh.

LESS TALK, MORE DO

Magnify Your Location: Launching with a very limited budget, they only took out two ads, one in Vogue and one in GQ.  But they used a little creative thinking and their location to gain more – and almost free – press. Launching the day before the opening of NYC’s Fashion Week, they invited news media to an impromptu marketing “event” at the NYC Library. This garnered a lot of free press and buzz, for practically no cost. Are you taking advantage of right where you are to promote your business? Attend or host local meet ups to connect with other businesses and customers. Consider your office or shop to be a destination and have an open house, tasting, fashion or art event or charity drive. Call the local press and fill them in. 

Expand Your Vision: Though they are now doing a little more advertising, close to 50% of Warby Parker’s marketing is word of mouth. Being an affordable, reliable, trusting and caring brand would be enough to secure loyal brand ambassadors, but Warby Parker goes further make themselves unforgettable: they take eyeglasses off of your face, and put them in your place.

Photos on their website and in ads not only show people wearing their glasses, but they show eyeglasses at places where you want to be like at a picnic table full of luscious herbs and barbecue. They show them in your home, on nightstands with fresh flowers and intriguing books or on dressing tables next to precious jewelry and sentimental love notes – they become beloved accessories right along side all of your favorite things and each time you wear them you want the world to know about it. Home is where your Warby Parkers are. How can you expand your customer’s vision of your product? Think about your target customer: what they love, what their favorite destinations, TV shows, and activities are – can you picture your product there? 

Learning from innovative businesses and TWISTING them to build your brand is our core principle at Brand School – the premier learning program for small businesses, non profits, and entrepreneurs. Find out more here.

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This post is part of our Brands That Twist series celebrating innovative brands. Read about other breakthrough brands and more ways to grow your business and brand here

The 4 Most Important Questions Your Brand Must Answer

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Critical to the development of a strong brand is the ability to powerfully and concisely answer the following four simple, but critical questions. Ask yourself whether your brand has taken the time to think through each of these areas, or whether it’s time to revisit these four fundamentals that make all the difference to your business success:

1.WHO are the most important targets for the brand?

The biggest mistake that businesses make is they try to reach every body and they end up connecting with nobody. It may sound counter intuitive, but the narrower your target – the wider your success. Zero in on a specific type of person and delve deep to know what makes them tick, what keeps them up at night, what’s missing that your product or service can help address?

At Brand School Master Class one of the first exercises we do is to create a Target Persona. We develop a character, like in a novel, and give them a back story. Really drill down, the more specific, the better. Think beyond standard demographics like age and gender. Do they live in the city or suburbs? What’s their family dynamic like? What keeps them up at night? What’s on their DVR? What was the last vacation they raved about? Then get more specific about their needs in relation to your category. What’s going on in their lives right now that might make them receptive to your brand message? What else have they tried to meet this need? Who are their key influencers? Some brands have one target while others have several different targets. If you have more than one, do this exercise for up to three targets – but then look for the common drivers between them. These Target Personas become the fundamental inspiration that will help you keep your branding, marketing and advertising more productively focused.

2. WHAT is going to compel them to choose your brand and stay loyal?

Once you understand what your ideal target is really searching for…how can you meet that need? Great brands don’t just help to get things done – they help people feel differently about themselves. Your Brand Promise needs to be more than about functional benefits. You really need to connect emotionally. Starbucks isn’t selling coffee, it’s promising community. Nike is not about running, it’s about achievement. At Brand School, we call these kind of benefits “top of the pyramid” promises (think about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs). What’s at the top of your brand’s pyramid that will really connect with your customer and turn them from an occasional user to a loyal fan? The deeper you go in your WHO – the Target Persona exercise – the easier it will be to zero-in  a compelling and differentiated brand promise.

3. WHY should these high-priority targets believe in your brand?

Now that you’ve got their attention with a powerful Brand Promise (or Brand Idea) WHY should they believe that you can deliver on this?  In Brand School Master Class we dive further into creating Brand Pillars – the differentiated and credible ways that you support your Brand Promise.

These Pillars should reflect your unique point of view in the category, how you see and do things differently. If you are a small business owner or entrepreneur, your Personal Brand is also an important Pillar. How does your personality and passion help your customer get what they need?  Share why what you do is important to you, and share your personal story or the story of how you started your business. But always keep your Target Personas in mind when developing the Pillars and avoid trite support points like “High Quality” and “Trustworthy”. Those are a given in any category and are not going to make you stand out.

4. HOW is your brand felt in every touch point?

This is where the rubber really hits the road. Any brand can say they are great, but how many can really prove it in all of the customer interactions? Look for moments of magic that are going to bring your brand to life and help you connect with your ideal target. Stay fresh and consistent with your language and visual brand representation.

Virgin Atlantic delights their flyers with tiny salt and pepper shakers shaped like airplanes with feet. Pleple were carrying them off the plane with them so Virgin Atlantic had the words “pinched from Virgin” printed on the bottom of the shakers. Snapple places entertaining facts on the insides of their bottle caps which have become collectibles. Place words of wisdom or tips on packing slips, invoices or cash register receipts to keep your brand in the eyes of your customers. Include a genuine thank you note in your packages along with a sticker of your brand’s logo. Don’t forget the outside and/or inside of packages and tote bags. The idea is to surprise your customer and create a stronger brand connection.

Answering these four critical questions will help you develop a clearer brand,  build a stronger business, grow your customer base and continue to innovate ways to serve your consumer better. Brand School Master Classour highly effective, premier branding program, delivers the tools and steps you need to strengthen your brand and your connection to your customers. See if your business qualifies for Brand School’s exclusive programs at BrandSchoolOnline.com.

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Avoid Making the Top 5 Branding Mistakes – #BrandingHangout Replay

Recently BrandTwist Founder & CEO Julie Cottineau joined Terry Byford, Director, Corporate Counsel at Getty Images and iStock’s Sarah Lochting in a live, Google Branding Hangout where they discussed the Top 5 Small Business Branding Mistakes – and wow… what an amazing turnout! There was great feedback and really insightful branding questions from viewers. Big thank you to all who showed up, to Terry, and to Sarah and iStock for hosting.

This Branding Hangout covers:
    •    5 top branding mistakes that could be holding your business back, and even getting you into legal hot water.
    •   Tips on re-branding.
    •    How to develop a killer brand promise.
    •    The difference between b2b and b2c branding.
    •    How to stand out BIG as a small business.

And that’s just a taste – which is why we’re so excited that iStock has made the entire informative, jammed-packed, hour session available to view for FREE. So tune in to the video, above, for ways to grow your brand, expand your reach and avoid potentially costly branding snafus. 

AND, You can keep the branding conversation going by submitting your comments and/or questions here, below, or by using the Twitter hashtag: #BrandingHangout.

Shout out and thank you to @AssyrianKitchenWe just love how she shared her thoughts and takeaways from the Hangout on Twitter:

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@JCottin Just watched Top 5 small business branding mistakes. Great takeaways! Thanks! @istock #BrandingHangout

“Thought a 56 min video was going to be too long, but I was hooked on the practical takeaways from the start! Thanks.”

@iStock @JCottin Invest in “word of eye”, have a strategy first, know your brand promise, think of brands you love & ask, “What would they do?”

We hope you take the opportunity to view the Hangout replay, above, and feel free to share it with others who you feel might benefit from it.

Happy branding!

NOTE: The offer mentioned in the video for a chance to receive 1 of 10 free “Brand Health Checks” from BrandTwist HAS ENDED.  But if you’d like to be notified when the next complimentary 1-0n-1 Health Checks are available, please apply HERE.

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Fast Food Wrapped Up In a Twist

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Chipotle is not your stereotypical fast food restaurant chain. After experiencing Chipotle one time, you will forever be done with the regret that often follows eating the traditional fast food burger and fries. Founded in 1993 in Denver, Colorado, Chipotle Mexican Grill has grown from a single, small restaurant to a worldwide phenomenon with over 1600 outlets in 44 U.S. states and 4 different countries.

While Chipotle is classified in the fast casual segment of the dining industry, you would never know while eating it. You won’t experience the typical “regret factor” that makes you question your fast food decision 45-minutes later when you’re trying to digest. That’s because they make good on their promise to use organic, fresh ingredients and naturally raised meat – as reflected in the company’s mission statement: Food With Integrity. This mission is further brought to life with vegetarian options such as vegetable burritos, salads, and Sofritas (shredded tofu braised with chili and spices).

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There’s also an intriguing mystery about Chipotle’s menu that many customers (except the extremely loyal) may not know. There is a secret menu. This menu has interesting options which one cannot find on the standard restaurant menu, such as Quesaritos and Burritodillas. This has created compelling interest for loyal brand fans known as “Chipotle addicts”, like myself, who are looking for a new experience each time we go to Chipotle. When ordering off the secret menu, the friendly employees might even give you a knowing smirk or wink congratulating you for being an “expert”. These “secret” additions to Chipotle’s menu, as well as their interesting packaging which contains “passionate ramblings” such as, “I think we could be really good together”, paired with a picture of a burrito, is a TWIST in the fast food business which separates them from most other fast food competitors.

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Chipotle also stands out from the rest of the fast food shops thanks to its use of technology for an easier, more customer-friendly experience. If you are worried that the line will be too long or if you’re in a rush, you can use their mobile “Chipotle Ordering” app to give your order in advance. And there’s always the more traditional option to phone in and place your order.

Another important characteristic that Chipotle has which differs it from the rest of its competitors is their casual, yet vibrant atmosphere. In every Chipotle you can always count on lively music like reggae or salsa, or other up-beat, fast-paced music to go along with friendly employees who can make your day brighter.

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Chipotle appeals to a wide variety of customers but seems to have a special spot in the hearts of teenage boys such as myself. Their recent prom promotion is a great example of how well they know their target market. Knowing that it is prom season and that Men’s Warehouse will be filled with tuxedo-renting, burrito-craving teenage boys, They partnered with Men’s Warehouse to give each buying customer a coupon good for a Men’s Warehouse discount and a free order of chips and guacamole at Chipotle.

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Three things you can learn from Chipotle to TWIST with your own brand:

  • Don’t just promise a differentiated benefit – deliver on it with every touch point.
  • Create secret rituals that can connect with your customers to make them feel special and want to be brand ambassadors.
  • Look for unusual partnerships that are trying to reach the same target audience for partnering marketing opportunities.

Conclusion?

Chipotle has a used a number of techniques in order to expand their business, but simply by being unique and reliable Chipotle has sprung forward and now competes (and holds it’s own) in the same arenas as some of the largest names in the business.

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About the author:

Austin Glickstern is a BrandTwist intern and a senior graduating from Dobbs Ferry High School, NY.  For the next four years he will be attending the University of Connecticut where he will study Business.  Some of Austin’s hobbies include playing sports, watching movies, and going to Chipotle often for a couple of huge burritos.

 

If you would like to be a BrandTwist guest blogger, please contact Jamie@brandtwist.com

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The One Simple Thing You Can Do To Get 10x More Opportunities On LinkedIn

Did you know that when people Google your name, LinkedIn is one of the highest ranked sites? Do you want to know you how you can get more for your business out of one of the largest job searching and business networking, marketing and branding sites in the world? In this series on Linkedin, guest blogger, Leslie Hughes, Principal of PUNCH!media, Professor of Social Media and corporate trainer, shares her insider tips. Read more about Leslie and her SPECIAL OFFER for Friends of BrandTwist, below.  If you would like to be a guest blogger, please contact Jamie@brandtwist.com

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When was the last time you updated your status on LinkedIn?

Did you know that LinkedIn now has over 300 million members in over 200 countries? It’s THE business network for professionals.

Updating your status at least ONE time per week will give you 10x more opportunities because you’re staying top-of-mind and positioning yourself as an expert.

You may think “It’s all been said before” or “I don’t want to bug my connections”.

But, when you share quality, relevant, timely information, your connections will love you for it.

Here are 3 kinds of status updates that you can share:

  1. Write a short & sweet tip that can help your audience do something. If you can direct them to your blog for more information – even better!
  2. Share the latest article that you’ve read that you just know your target audience will love. Add your own comment to share which point(s) you liked the most.
  3. Announce that you will be at a particular conference and ask your connections “See you there?”

Remember to keep it professional. Don’t include a Sudoku challenge or announce that you’ve had a muffin for breakfast.

Take Action Now: Do you have any other suggestions for great LinkedIn status updates? Please share!

This guest post about Linkedin from Leslie Hughes of PUNCH!media is part of our Social Media blog series. 

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Leslie Hughes is the Principal of PUNCH!media, Professor of Social Media and corporate trainer.

With over 15 years in both traditional and digital marketing and sales, Leslie has helped clients such as The Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada, Prozac (Eli Lilly), The Canadian Institute of Business Valuators as well as Guardian Life Insurance Company of America to showcase their brand properly, connect with quality leads and convert business.

From strategic Social Media development to crafting the perfect LinkedIn Summary for executives, Leslie and PUNCH!media helps you to build buzz for your business.

Would you like to know more about how build a stronger Linkedin profile to make a fantastic first impression and grow your business or career? Check out PUNCH!media’s Linkedin Training program, designed for the busy professional and gets right to the nitty-gritty of the essentials.  Leslie has generously made a special discount offer available for Brand School members and BrandTwist friends. To receive more about this special offer, click HERE today, and don’t forget to use the coupon code BrandSchool to receive your savings!

More posts from the Linkedin series HERE.

Leslie is a proud graduate of the inaugural first class of Brand School by BrandTwist and can be reached at leslie@punchmedia.ca.

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What Brand is Your Father Quiz and What’s His Ideal Gift?

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Fathers are a bridge to the world. They help us learn who we really are, how to navigate the world and achieve our aspirations.  Strong brands do that, too.

Like dads, beloved brands help us feel better about our position in the world, enjoy our successes, and enhance a more defined sense of self.

If your father was a brand, which brand would he be?  Take the BrandTwist quiz to find out. We’ve matched six top brands to six father personality styles in our “What Brand Is Your Father Quiz.”

You’ll find out which brand best reflects your dad, some spot-on ways to celebrate any special event or holiday with him – or just have a great day together for any reason, and we also suggest gift ideas that are in-the-zone for your father’s specific brand personality and style.

Take this fun, short quiz today and share with the world (and your dad) what an awesome brand your Father is! (mine was Nike!)

TAKE THE QUIZ NOW -> CLICK HERE.

More Brand-Tastic gift ideas for dad in our posts, HERE.

Support dad in growing his business. Is your father an entrepreneur, small business owner, artist, performer, or freelance contractor? Here’s a way to help him take his business and brand to the top! Brand School is our highly effective, premier branding program that will give him the tools and insight he needs to grow a stronger personal, career or business brand. Receive more information about the next session and see if you qualify for a free Brand Health Check HERE.