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 progress and feel 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.

What Brand Is Your Mother Quiz and What is Her Ideal Gift?

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Strong brands speak to us. They resonate with our personalities. They help us project to the world who we really are inside and how and what we aspire to be.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could find the ideal gift for your mom and unique ways to celebrate a holiday or special event that is sure to bring a smile and truly click with her style?

Well, now you can! We’ve matched five top brands to five mother personality styles… and suggested great gift ideas for each personality along with ideal ways to spend a day together in our “What Brand Is Your Mother Quiz.”

Take this fun, short quiz today and find out what gift will click with your mom’s special “brand personality” and share with the world what awesome brand your mother is! (mine was a BMW!)

TAKE THE QUIZ NOW -> CLICK HERE. 

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

Support mom in growing her business.  Is your mother an entrepreneur, small business owner, artist, performer, or freelance contractor? Here’s a way to help her take her business and brand to the top! Brand School is our highly effective, premier branding program that will give her the tools and insight she 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.

 

Five Brand-Marvelous Ideas for Mother’s Day

It can be challenging to come up with a gift idea that is thoughtful, meaningful, fun and unique for mom on Mother’s Day. We’re here to help! Check out these brands we love, and that mom will love receiving.

Box up a bundle of goodies with a Birchbox - It’s difficult for active mothers to get into stores to sample new products. So why not make it easier for her and bring those samples directly to mom’s door? Birchbox does just that. Birchbox bundles several samples of cosmetics, skin care items, bath, beauty and lifestyle products all into a beautiful Birchbox and delivers it directly to mom’s doorstep. (and they have a line for men too… Father’s Day is right around the corner! Check out the men’s Birchbox in our Father’s Day post ) Read more about what we feel drives the success of the Birchbox brand here.

 

Hire a rabbit to take on a task with Taskrabbit – A mom’s life is busy, busy, and… did we say busy? There’s always some task that she doesn’t have time to complete. She would really appreciate a helping hand. TaskRabbit is all about getting the job done.  This company has experts in just about every field who are ready to take on mom’s request, and as their tagline promises, to help mom go “From To-Do, to Done.” Interested in how Taskrabbit built a succesful brand? Read more here.

 

Ch-ch-ch-changes through chocolate! Chocolate is always a welcomed gift, but when it’s fun, meaningful and connects you to the world, it’s even better.  Each sweetriot chocolate candy purchase supports sustainable cocoa farming, native and local farmers, and the emerging artists community by featuring works that embrace sweetriot’s culture on the candy wrappers. A sweetriot gift purchase does more than simply satisfying mom’s chocolate craving. Want to know more about the secret to sweetriot’s sweet branding success? Read about it here.

 

Take mom on a fabulous get-away –  Treat mom to a fabulous weekend away full of local flavor by celebrating at a unique hotel. Discover a new city together – and build memories that will last a long time. The  Provenance Hotels are a great boutique collection that offer wonderful decor and  authentic local touches in some very cool US cities. How can your brand cash in on the trend to hyper local? Read more here.

 

Support mom in growing her business. Is your mother an entrepreneur, small business owner, artist, performer, or freelance contractor? Here’s a way to help her take her business and brand to the top! Brand School is our highly effective, premier branding program that will give her the tools and insight she 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.

The #1 Reason You Should NOT Connect With EVERYONE 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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I’m a firm believer that quality always trumps quantity.

You don’t exchange business cards without a conversation, so why would you accept someone to be a part of your online Rolodex if you haven’t chatted with them first?

When you refer business, you typically you know, like and trust them. You tell your friends and family that a particular company did a great job and you were satisfied with the results.  Have you ever referred a company you didn’t know or trust?

It only takes a few moments to connect with your connections and deepen your relationships.  Here are two steps to ensuring success:

Step 1: Personalize Your Invitation To Connect

When you are making a new connection, ALWAYS be sure to send a personalized note to remind them how you met or let them know why you wish to connect with them.

You may notice on their profile that you went to the same school or perhaps you know someone in common.  This can help turn a cold call

into a warm introduction. Remember, we are more likely to buy from people we know.

Step 2: Respond To Your Invitation Requests

When someone simply sends you the standard “I’d like to add you to my professional network” request, I will often reply with:

Thanks for your invitation to connect. Can you please refresh my memory as to how we know each other?”

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Or

Thanks for your invitation to connect. I don’t think we’ve met yet. I would love to know more about you and your business. I’d love to get together for a coffee. Would next Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. work for you?”

This way, you can get to know your connection better or if they don’t respond, you’re not adding a stranger who likely won’t refer business to you anyway.

The easiest way to reply without accepting is by using the app on your smartphone or tablet (see image) or learn how to respond in 4 steps via desktop visit: How to Respond to Linkedin Invitations. 

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Take action now: Did you find this tip useful? If so, be sure to share with your colleagues and friends.

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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Twisting Book Trailers to Boost Any Business

Book trailers bring big business. These video spots don’t stand out for their star-power alone, but for their formal inventiveness and willingness to take risks as well. In this guest post, Liam Powel shows how your business can take what publishing houses are doing to market their authors and products and apply those same ideas to your business for big marketing and brand-building benefits through video trailers.

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LITTLE FAILURE’S BIG SUCCESS. 

If you’re not up on literature, you may not have heard of Gary Shteyngart, but odds are you will soon.  The quirky satirist – whose novel Super Sad True Love Story garnered him a spot on the New Yorker’s “20 Under 40” list two years ago – is known for his biting wit, bumbling characters, and stunning backdrops. Little Failure, a memoir released early in January, 2014 by Random House, has already garnered glowing reviews, and if history is any guide, sales are radiant as well.

To hype the title, Random House released a “book trailer” – if you’re not familiar with the form, it’s exactly what it sounds like – and Shteyngart’s are grade-A satire. Little Failure has already made a splash because of its star-studded cast, featuring James Franco, Rashida Jones, Alex Karpovsky, and of course, Shteyngart too. Random House, no stranger to the medium or its capacity to push publicity, had previously released a similar trailer for Super Sad – it’s just as hilarious, and can be seen here.

However, these video spots don’t stand out for their star-power alone, which any hefty budget could use to garner attention, but for their formal inventiveness and willingness to take risks as well. This is what we’re interested in. Let’s look at a few lessons from the art of the book trailer that you can apply to your brand and business.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO BREAK NEW GROUND. 

The vast majority of book trailers are fairly one-dimensional, composed of excerpts from a work read over a series of simple images or videos. Few build a narrative, and among the small number that do, fewer still are as cunning or generally well-composed as those for Little Failure or Super Sad.

So aside from it seeming strange, or stunt-ish, for a piece of literary non-fiction to engage potential consumers through such an infrequently, and often ill-used media form, Shteyngart’s piece distinguishes itself for its wryly inventive quality. Particularly when compared to other book trailers, Little Failure’s comes off as sketch comedy, worrying less about clearly pushing the product (the memoir itself) and more about conveying core value propositions in an engagingly slant, indirect way.

So what if you won’t be able to hire out a Hollywood star to shill your brand anytime soon?  This release, Worst Case Scenario Survival Video Series: BREAKUPS, couldn’t either, nor could this Skagboys video, but each crafted compelling content – well within their means – and made efficient, inventive use of a quirky medium to engage their audiences, new and old. The latter trailer, for Skagboys, is particularly on point, a wonderfully executed example of consistent brand identity – note how the skeleton from the video is modeled after the novel’s cover image, and how the whole tone is very much in line with Irvine Welsh’s writing – that only required a Final Cut video editing program and some papier mâché to get up and running.

Sometimes, especially if you’re a solopreneur, all it takes is going the extra mile, even if you have to run it alone.

SO YOU DON’T RUN A PUBLISHING HOUSE? 

Whatever industry your brand is competing in, don’t be afraid to go beyond convention when reaching out to potential consumers. Brands, particularly emerging ones, too often fear venturing beyond a simple benefit analysis or overt calls-to-action while representing themselves – from taglines and logos to small collateral. Slant approaches aren’t only for the industry bigwigs: they can be for everyone, if you’re willing to take the risk.

Successful trailers use inventive, thoughtful approaches to innovating an established medium.  They convey how their product functions, who uses it, and where it’s used to inform and entertain.

What if a video, or a trailer, isn’t right for you? The point is to reach out to your consumers in engaging, surprising, direct ways – trailer or no trailer. Here are a few tips and lessons we can take away from Random House’s – and other’s – use of an innovative form.

  1. Ask yourself: is there a particular aspect of your brand – logo, tone, media presence – you think could benefit from an overhaul or re-imagining? If so, isolate it and take a moment to ask yourself how it could be better and what could be gained by crossing a line of convention here or there.
  2. Think lateral.  Make a list of potential media you’d like to engage in that you haven’t already. Is it video? A social platform? If media isn’t at the forefront of your concerns, what elements of design, or tones of voice, would be exciting and new for you to experiment with?
  3. Spend the time to develop a high concept, and stick with it. Measure twice, cut once.
  4. Think lifestyle and/or novel, layered tones. Slant, or indirect, approaches to brand development aren’t just for established presences in the market – emerging brands can use them too.
  5. Always assume the most of your consumer, and expect the most from your brand.

About the author: 

Liam Powell is Lead Copywriter at Imagemme, a Brand Innovation Lab based in TriBeCa, NYC. He recently received a Masters from Columbia University, where he would catch the occasional glimpse of the man himself – Gary Shteyngart – walking the long, marble halls. You can connect with Liam on Facebook, and on Twitter he is @YazooStScandal (from the Dylan song).

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Twisting, Moving and Shaking Your Brand

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Imagine what would happen if you really dove in and started to twist and shake up your brand and business? That’s what visionary entrepreneurs like Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos and Gary Vaynerchuk do. Listen to the “OnBranding by BRANDFEVER” podcast of Amanda Serfozo’s and my conversation about the far-reaching power of a strong brand and ways you can dive in and add a little twist to strengthen your brand’s reach.

Listen to the interview at BRANDFEVER, HERE.

If you have not tuned into OnBranding’s interview series, you are missing out on an amazing resource. These are high quality, in-depth audio and video interviews with top industry leaders, businesses and entrepreneurs about branding and marketing.

It was a pleasure chatting with Amanda during this rich, one-hour podcast. We covered how I became interested in branding, lessons I learned from Richard Branson during my history as VP of Brand at Virgin, how I became an entrepreneur and developed BrandTwist and Brand School Master Class, but most importantly – we dive deep and give insight that can really help you grow your brand and business right now, like: the difference between marketing, advertising and branding; what’s important in branding today; tips on how to relate your story and social media; ways that brands can stay fresh and how entrepreneurs and business owners can generate new solutions to their business challenges and reach more customers.

Some takeaways:

  • Make sure there is an audience for your idea.
  • Rather than focusing on  innovation, focus on usefulness.
  • Put your consumer at the heart of your ideation. What do your customers need?
  • Ask your market what is wrong with today? What’s missing? What do you enjoy in other industries? What are you tired of?
  • Know your brand promise for leadership positioning and an edge-up over the competition.

Listen to the interview at BRANDFEVER, HERE.

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Essential Branding Lessons with Jennifer Love & Julie Cottineau

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Your branding questions answered!

I recently was interviewed by Jennifer Love, Founder of JenniferLove.com and Co-founder & CEO of NibMor, the yummy and successful organic chocolate brand, for her weekly video series on business building. If you are serious about your brand this is a session you won’t want to miss. You can watch the video chockfull of tips HERE. Read below to learn how knowing your brand well can help sky rocket your business.

As a followup to the video Jennifer and I answered branding questions in a Twitter chat, using the hashtag #Branding101. It was great fun connecting with Jennifer and the Twitterverse.  If you haven’t already connected with us on Twitter, please stop by for a little brand talk at @JCottin. You can connect with Jennifer Love at @JLoveBiz.

Here are some excerpts from our chat , we covered everything from the right time to start thinking about your brand to how to take a page from Richard Branson and rock your personal brand…and most importantly how great brands WALK THE TALK.

@JLoveBiz – Welcome! To get started today >> @JCottin Many have asked: How & where do I start developing the right #brand for my #business?

@JCottin - Start TODAY. If you are re-building your #brand or #business, start defining your brand promise right now.

@JLoveBiz – @JCottin YES!!! Great tip. Start today, start where you are. Also, know who your consumer is and get intimate with them.

@JCottin – Your #brand’s promise will be a decision-making filter, to help attract the right investors, employees & #customers.

@JLoveBiz – Entrepreneurs want to know: What mistakes are made when starting a #business & developing a #brand?

@bevisible – RT @JCottin #1 mistake #entrepreneurs make is not enough time & energy really defining their #brand.

@JCottin – If you spend enough time upfront building & understanding your #brand well it will help the rest run smoother.

@JCottin – Small businesses should add more personal story into their  #brands. That’s why people choose small. They want authenticity.

@JLoveBiz – “Rather than saying you’re a different kind of company. Prove it through every single touch point.” – @JCottin

@JCottin – Definitely @JLoveBiz brands are relationships and you need to know what your consumer needs, what keeps them up at night?

@JCottin – Your loyal consumers are your best brand ambassadors. Nurture those relationships above all else!

@JCottiin – It’s not enough to tell consumers what your product does, bring your #brand promise to life via actions and experiences.

@JLoveBiz – I’m often asked: What can building a #brand do for my #business?

@JCottin – A strong #brand gets people to ask for you by name, minimizes other choices, and attracts the best employees.

@JCottin – A strong #brand helps people get what you offer right away. Helps them see your difference and why they should buy.

@JLoveBiz – @JCottin great point. Standing out from competition is so important & a way to do that is by delivering a great experience.

@JCottin – A strong #brand allows you to charge premium price for your and keeps you from having to get trial by discounting.

@JLoveBiz – A frequent question @JCottin is: How does a personal #brand differ from a #business brand; do I need both?

@JCottin – A personal #brand’s how you tell your own story, what makes you unique and it supports your #business brand.

@JCottin – The more memorable your personal #brand is, the more memorable your #business may become, too. Definitely need both.

@JCottin – #RichardBranson’s personal brand of having fun and challenging the status quo supports the #Virgin promise to shake things up.

@JCottin – #Personal brand matters:  you will have many #jobs over time  but you will always be you. Need to cultivate it.

@JCottin – A strong personal #brand adds credibility to a #business & helps in repairing glitches.We all mess up, even @richardbranson.

JCottin – Be careful. Your #personal brand is not you – warts and all. It need to be authentic but also managed.

@JCottin – Yes! @JLoveBiz the experience you deliver IS your brand.

@bevisible – Like this: The experience you deliver IS your brand. Think we try to reinvent when our strength is what we’ve been doing.

@JCottin – Your #brand is your #business. It’s an entrepreneur’s secret weapon!

@JCottin – Brand = more than logo, website or colors – it’s a reliable promise you deliver that customers can count on.

@JCottin – #Branding for small biz is the same for big biz, but smaller biz need to be smarter with resources. Use their brand everywhere.

@JCottin – Great #brands big or small solve problems. They are useful and help people get more done and feel better doing it.

@JCottin – Great #brands are stories well told. We want to read them over and over and they become best sellers.

@JCottin – Great #brands WALK the TALK!

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Build Your Business – Exclusive Offers for BrandTwist Friends!

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We are happy to share with you BrandTwist guest blog posts from innovative entrepreneurs and business owners that graciously share their business-building tips and takeaways AND have generously made exclusive offers available to Friends of BrandTwist. These articles, products and discounts are designed to help your business spring into action now that the warmer weather is (nearly) here.

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Solving a personal problem can lead to powerful innovation. Tired of winter snow and slush ruining your boots?  Cassandra Droogan, Founder & President, PYSIS Inc took her inspiration from her father’s galoshes and created an exciting new product with a TWIST. Read her guest post HERE - it might inspire you to pursue that idea you’ve been musing about. And make sure you see her special April offer for BrandTwist readers – you and your shoes will be ready for April showers.

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Finding the balance between your business’ visual and verbal communication is essential to presenting a solid brand identity and building consumer comfort and loyalty.  But how do you know which “tone” defines your type of business? You’ll find all the answers in this free webcast replay from BrandTwist Founder & CEO Julie Cottineau and Rebecca Swift, Head of Creative Planning at iStock: “The Ying and Yang of Powerful Brand Stories,” all about visual and verbal branding. PLUS receive 10% discount on any of IStock credit packs for friends of BrandTwist. checkout. Promo expires March 31, 2014.  Webcast replay and promo code HERE.

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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. Catch Leslie’s Linkedin tips and info. about her SPECIAL OFFER for Friends of BrandTwist HERE.

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How do you distinguish your brand and its products and services in a competitive market? One way is to develop a “video brand bumper” that accompanies your every presentation, video, or workshop.  Read Dr. Marina Kostina’s, co-founder of Bookphoria, guest post HERE. In it, she shares with you more about what a video brand bumper is, why every author, speaker and expert needs one, and a 3-step process to develop an effective bumper for your brand – and take advantage of their offer for a free consultation.

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BrandTwist ‘s Julie Cottineau had the good fortune of working at Virgin as VP of Brand for North America for five years and during this time she gained invaluable insight into best practices in branding, marketing, and corporate culture. Whether you are a corporate CEO or a recent grad just starting out your career, these tips are designed to help you learn from one of the best-loved brands on the planet, and one of its most successful entrepreneurs. Each tip contains valuable lessons from Virgin and food-for-thought for your own business. Receive our “Brand Like a Billionaire: 5 Tips I learned from Richard Branson” when you join for our email list HERE.

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Looking forward to summer? As you plan your fun in the sun, make sure to make some plans for your Brand too. Take advantage of the longer days of summer to re-energize your business with Brand School Summer Session.

This is a streamlined version of Brand School Master Class where you get the best of the Master Class core principles in less time so you can hit the ground running in the fall for better business results. Attract more profitable and loyal customers, tighten your brand story, create a more professional and distinctive brand… and more!  Enrolling now. Find out how to grab your seat HERE.

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The 3 Key Areas To Brand Yourself Properly 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 about 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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What do Beyonce, Richard Branson, and Mark Zuckerberg all have in common?

They are all personal brands that stand out beyond their original company brand.

Did you know that when people Google your name, LinkedIn is one of the highest ranked sites?

As taught in Brand School’s Master Class: effectively telling your “elevator story” in 1 floor instead of 20 is essential for making a lasting first impression.

You want people to see that you care about your presence and you’ve taken the time to craft a really professional presence.

The 3 areas that you must focus on are:

  1. Your headline
  2. Your professional photograph
  3. Your LinkedIn Summary

Tip: Use Brand School’s exercise on crafting your pillars helps you to define what makes you unique.

Step 1: Your Headline

Your headline and photo create the one-two punch for a knockout first impression.

By default, LinkedIn updates your headline as your current position. Stand out from the crowd by laser-focusing on your 120-character headline to effectively explain your brand story.

Here are two examples:

Example 1:

Your name

Your title: Helping (insert your target audience) to achieve (insert specific results here)

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Example 2:

Your name

Your title: (Insert what yo do). *Your successful accomplishment)

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Step 2: Your Professional Polished Picture

Your bright and shining smile makes you approachable and may refresh someone’s memory if they’ve forgotten your name.

Ensure it’s a photo of you – alone. No pictures with pets, babies, wedding photos, or cartoon avatars.

Step 3: Craft A Creative Summary

Your LinkedIn Summary is the perfect place to share your accomplishments without sounding arrogant.

Here are some top tips:

  • Write your LinkedIn Summary in 1st person so you appear more approachable (ie. “I am” instead of “Leslie is”
  • Include relevant keywords in the copy and in the specialties section. This will help you rank higher when people search for someone in your field
  • Outline your key target audience. You want people to instantly recognize if you can help them
  • Focus on results and accomplishments. How have you helped people or achieved success?
  • Include a call-to-action: How do you want people to reach you?

Take action now: A 100% complete profile on LinkedIn will provide you with 40x more opportunities, and these three key areas will help you to stand out and become more noticed.

Once you leverage LinkedIn to position yourself properly as an expert in your industry, your profile views will begin to skyrocket and you’ll be sure to receive inbound leads.

This guest post about Linkedin from Leslie Hughes of PUNCH!media is part of our Social Media blog series. Leslie2014highresHeadShot

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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All Your Burning Brand Questions – Answered!

Sometimes the terms “brand” and “branding” can feel a bit vague or even overwhelming, particularly for those beginning a business, embarking on the entrepreneur track, or looking to refresh their current brand or business.

Branding is often overlooked as an important initial aspect of building a business or re-building an existing one. Many think that “branding” can be added on after the business gets rolling, but the real value of a strong brand goes beyond what the color, logo, or website offer. If you have a clear grasp on who your business is really trying to reach and what you are promising to deliver, you’ll quickly realize the many ways having strong brand can benefit your business, from taking the stress out of daily decisions, to charging a premium for your product or services, to being forgiven by your following for any blunders. You’ll quickly see why a strong brand can be an entrepreneur’s secret weapon.

But how and where do you start formulating your brand?

Do these questions sound familiar:

  • What is a brand?
  • How does having a strong brand help my business?
  • How do I start developing my brand?
  • I’m not a big business, how can I do what the big brands like Starbucks, Virgin and Zappos! do?
  • How can I make my brand work harder to grow my business?

I recently was interviewed by Jennifer Love, Founder of JenniferLove.com and Co-founder & CEO NibMor for her free weekly video interview series that gives tips and information on building business, sales, and product development. I thoroughly enjoyed  sharing answers to her branding questions and giving tips on how knowing your brand well can help in building your business. There are plenty of tips and takeaways in this fun chat, you won’t want to miss it.

As a followup to the video Jennifer and I answered your branding questions in Twitter chat, using the hashtag #Branding101. It was great fun connecting with Jennifer and the Twitter community. You can read takeaways and highlights from our chat HERE.

If you want to receive notification when Jennifer’s new videos go live, sign up at Jennifer’s site HERE, and you’ll also receive access to special information not available to the public.

 

 

 

Announcing: Brand School Summer Session

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Looking forward to summer? As you plan your fun in the sun, make sure to make some plans for your Brand too. Take advantage of the longer days of summer to re-energize your business with Brand School Summer Session.

This is a streamlined version of Brand School Master Class where you get the best of the core principles in less time so you can hit the ground running in the fall for better business  results.

Attract more profitable and loyal customers, tighten your brand story, create a more professional and distinctive brand… and more!

Brand School Summer Session includes:

  •  7 mission-critical Brand lessons over eight weeks.
  •  Videos that you can watch anytime/anywhere (poolside if you like!).
  •  Interactive exercises to directly apply these lessons to your brand.
  •  Access to an intimate, online community of motivated entrepreneurs.
  •  Live weekly office hours via easy-to-access teleconference.
  •  Two 1-on-1 sessions with an experienced BrandTwist coach.

Brand School Summer Session takes place over a concentrated 8 weeks, (Classes run from June 9th through July 24th with no class week of 6/30 for 4th of July holiday) giving you the best of the Master Class Curriculum to put into action right away. 

We are now accepting applications.

Space is limited so don’t wait; apply for your Free Brand Health Check today (all Brand School students must be pre-qualified through a Health Check). See if you qualify, HERE.

Blended Learning Model – Maximum Flexibility

Brand School Summer Session is designed to offer maximum flexibility for the busy entrepreneur. Each week you will receive an email with instructions on how to access the video and exercise for that week’s assignment. It is password protected to create a private, confidential environment for Brand School Students.

You also receive a weekly, live office hour session, plus you are entitled to two 30-minute, one-on-one phone or Skype sessions with a Brand School coach.

See if you qualify, today! 

A New Twist to Solve the Old Problem of Wet, Ruined Shoes

Solving a personal problem can lead to powerful innovation. Tired of winter snow and slush ruining your boots?  Cassandra Droogan, Founder & President, PYSIS Inc took her inspiration from her father’s galoshes and created an exciting new product with a TWIST. Read her guest post here, below – it might inspire you to pursue that idea you’ve been musing about. And make sure you see her special March & April offer for BrandTwist readers.

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It’s important to focus on branding from the moment a product or business concept is conceived.  But, I think that most often the final (& ever-evolving) DNA of a brand grows and takes shape as the business grows.  So, when I recently met Julie Cottineau and was introduced to her strategy of brand twisting, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect.  A great time to TWIST my brand just as we’re making our big “splash” in the market!

I began designing PYSIS (pronounced Pisces) – a new style of overboots (rain boots worn OVER shoes) to protect women’s high heeled shoes from rain, slush and snow – years ago.  I was inspired by my dear old Dad’s rubber galoshes that he wore over his dress shoes when I was a kid.  It always frustrated me that there wasn’t a similar solution for women’s high heeled shoes – something that we could wear over our wedges and pumps to protect them from the elements.  I wanted my favorite shoes to last and I wanted to wear them when I wanted – whatever the weather.

So, I set out to create a solution: A TWIST on the men’s rubber galoshes of yesteryear.  PYSIS needed to function for heels and wedges, as well as match a woman’s sense of style. This ultimately took the shape of an overboot with a patent exterior – inspiring the style name: “Posh Galosh” – and an elastic closure so it could open wide enough to fit a shoe inside and then contour to the wearer’s leg and hold the shoe securely in place.

Given that my background was in the corporate banking industry (following six years as a lifeguard, where I also prayed for rain on a daily basis!), this development process took some time.  So, my branding journey began while designing a prototype made in NYC’s garment district in 2008, and has evolved as design improvements were made, production was secured, costing was finalized and the product finally hit the market on www.PYSIS.com.  And now Amazon and Shoebuy.com as well.

I’d spoken to many women over the years about my overboots.  Some loved that they’d be able to wear their favorite shoes in bad weather (or the threat thereof!), some hated ruining a new pair of shoes each season and very often I heard excitement over eliminating the need to carry an extra pair of shoes and search for storage for heavy, clunky rain boots.  I would chat, demo the latest prototype, explain the latest challenge… and listen to each person’s reaction and what resonated with her.

But, there really is nothing like actual customer feedback to provide direction for a brand.  With the original “Posh Galosh” style now out there saving women’s shoes, PYSIS can TWIST its way through April showers and on to great things to come!  Our March and April Special Offer (www.pysis.com/SpecialOffer) encourages fans to share PYSIS with their Facebook friends and the first comment we received included a customer exclaiming how excited she is for a busy spring and to no longer have to worry about “the dash from car to party in April”.  We’re so looking forward to hearing more of our customers’ feedback and stories!

There is so much potential for this product and brand and I’m looking forward to continuing the evolution.  Now with Julie’s brilliant guidance, the prospect of TWISTing with some of the brands I’ve admired over the years is very exciting and inspirational.  What would Spanx do??  Hmmm…

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Cassandra Droogan is Founder & President, PYSIS Inc.

Connect with her on Twitter: @PYSIS and on Facebook: PYSISINC

 

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 If you would like to be a guest blogger for BrandTwist contact Jamie@BrandTwist.com for more information.

The Ying and Yang of Powerful Brand Stories – Free Webinar Replay

Finding the balance between your business’ visual and verbal communication is essential to presenting a solid brand identity and building consumer comfort and loyalty. The smoother and more consistent you are in presenting your brand’s promise the more comfortable your ideal customer will feel when interacting with you – and the more likely they will be to stick with you as a loyal brand ambassador.

But how do you know which “tone” defines your type of business? How do you map your visual images with your language to tell your brand story with the right feel and attitude?

Recently BrandTwist Founder & CEO Julie Cottineau joined Rebecca Swift, Head of Creative Planning at iStock, to present a free webcast, “The Ying and Yang of Powerful Brand Stories,” on visual and verbal branding.

Click on the video, above, to learn how to:

  • Get your brand noticed by creating a compelling story
  • Use pictures and language to engage your market
  • Search more effectively to find the perfect image
  • Arrive at a verbal and visual balance to help your business succeed.
  • Identify the three main “tones” that resonate with customers, and know which one is right for your business.

The positive responses and feedback we’ve received has been overwhelming and we send a big thank you to all who shared their comments.

We’re thrilled that iStock has generously made this free webcast replay available…. AND DON’T MISS OUT ON MORE:

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SIGN UP ON iSTOCK FOR MORE webinars, inspiration and great visual content to support your business and brand.  Sign up HERE. 

 

You could receive a FREE BRAND ASSESSMENT one-on-one strategy session with Julie Cottineau. Fill out the form to see if your brand qualifies, HERE .

 

 

Enjoy the webcast and valuable branding and marketing insight and please share it with friends or colleagues who you feel might benefit.