Transcend the Ordinary and Rise Above Your Competition

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 6.59.13 AMNow that we’ve got you planning your next Brand Safari it’s time to figure out what to look for. Over the next few weeks, we’ll talk about what we look for on our BrandTwist Brand Safari’s, kicking off with T – Transcend the Ordinary.

Today we’re going to talk about how brands like Coco-Mat and Microsoft transcend the ordinary with their customers by allowing customers to experience their brands in a way that’s different from anyone else.

Let’s start with talking about what it means to transcend the ordinary, I think it’s about looking for brands that go beyond what’s expected. Transcend ordinary experiences to provide something fresh. It’s about how your clients experience your brand. Coco-Mat and their flagship store is a great example of this.

Can buying a mattress be relaxing?

On a recent Safari, we visited the iconic Coco-Mat store in SoHo for some hands on inspiration that attendees then TWISTED with their own businesses. Coco-Mat has shaken up the mattress category on every level by providing mattresses that are customizable by layer and made with all natural materials- like coconut fiber (hence the name). No metal springs are used. That’s not even the best TWIST though.

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They also have TWISTED the sales experience and transcended the sometimes stereotypical pushy mattress seller to a more thoughtful and zen experience. Their sleep specialists invite you to spend a few hours or even the night in a special “nap suite” in their SoHo store. They will make up the bed with the exact mattress you are thinking of purchasing. So you are sure that it’s the right fit. There’s a bathroom with shower in the suite and calming scents and decor.

It’s shifting an experience that can be stressful and frustrating and instead allowing you to experience the ease of their company at every step. It’s a completely unique experience that turns category norms on their heads. How can you relieve any friction in your buying experience for your customers- and make the process of engaging with your business as smooth and “dreamy” as possible?

How does Microsoft transcend the ordinary?

The idea of letting potential customers experience your brand instead of selling them on the idea is something Microsoft has done well with their flagship store in New York. Which is exactly why we’ll be hosting a Brand Safari in the NYC Experience Store there in September.

Microsoft experience stores give potential customers the opportunity to interact with the products. This helps them fall in love through learning more about the features. This is evident in the innovative Youth Spark coding camps.

These camps not only serve the community (another way to transcend) but it also gives consumers the opportunity to engage with the product, and fall in love with a product.

How can you transcend the ordinary?

Now it’s time for action, look for brands that turn the category norms on their heads. Remember, the best brands to TWIST with are outside of your category so get creative. Think about brands you love or have experienced that provide the opposite of what you expect (ex. a zen mattress buying experience instead of a stressful one).

Then TWIST this with your business. How can you tackle head on and rise above the common pain points in your category to provide a fresh, memorable and compelling brand experience?

Don’t forget to stay tuned, we’ll be talking about Walking the talk when we return with our next post.

Can’t wait to experience the TWIST for yourself? Grab one of our limited Safari spots for September here.

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Opera With A More Approachable TWIST

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Opera is an elite art form, with high ticket prices only available to a select few. Right? Wrong!

The Metropolitan Opera continues its 10-year tradition with a TWIST of live transmission of season openers on multiple screens in Times Square.

Last year viewers were treated to Verdi’s Otello. This year it was Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, which will also be screened in 100 movie theaters around the world – offering yet another, more affordable way for the brand to broaden its reach.

This might seem like a bad idea of “giving away” content, when it could be purchased at higher prices. But it’s actually a smart strategy of reaching out to new users who might be unfamiliar with opera and intimidated by an unfamiliar experience in the ritzy Metropolitan Operah House.  Plus it creates good will and great publicity.

What products or services could your business offer with the TWIST of being free or available in unexpected venues to widen your reach?

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Finding the right TWIST can help your brand innovate and deliver. In TWIST: How Fresh Perspectives Build Breakthrough Brands, Brand School founder Julie Cottineau provides a clear road map to build a stronger more distinctive brand – complete with examples from real life small business owners who have successfully completed our Brand School program. Pick up your copy today.

A Sweet Twist That Delivers Results

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Many non-profits rely on volunteers – but some actions, like giving blood, require a temporarily unpleasant experience to contribute to long term benefits.

The Australian Red Cross Blood Service TWISTED with some out-of-category top celebrity chefs and Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster to promote the message that donating blood, beyond doing a good deed, is a fun, approachable and friendly experience. They focus on the biscuit (cookie) given after donating as a delicious, desirable – even sensuous – reward.

“Giving blood feels good.” “Enjoy the best biscuit after saving three lives.”

A spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down worked for Mary Poppins. What “sugar” can you deliver to your clients and customers to make it easier to say “Yes” to your service or product?

Brand School gives you easy, actionable tools that you can use right away to boost your brand’s impact. Get access to our team of experts and enjoy support and inspiration from an exclusive community of like-minded business owners, non-profits and entrepreneurs.  Learn more about Brand School and see if your business qualifies for a one-on-one Brand Health Check Strategy Session at BrandSchoolOnline.com

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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

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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Branding vs. Advertising: Know the Difference to Grow

A common marketing gap is the failure to understand the difference between branding and advertising. In this  guest post Chris Garrett illustrates how knowing the difference between branding and advertising can strengthen your marketing strategy and your brand. Read about Chris in his bio below.  If you would like to be a guest blogger for BrandTwist contact Jamie@BrandTwist.com for more information.

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A common marketing gap is the failure to understand the difference between branding and advertising. While both are a part of marketing and are done with the express purpose of increasing revenue, they do so in different ways, and each has the ability to make other more or less effective. Let’s take a look at branding and advertising and how knowing the difference can strengthen your marketing strategy and your brand.

Branding

Branding is a lot deeper than we might realize when we’re reading about the newest marketing fads on the internet. Branding has everything to do with identity: who are you and what kind of business are you? What’s your name, and why should I remember it? How do you and your brand make me feel? The answers to these questions should be  related to your products and services – but not limited to them. Your brand is what makes your business feel like a person, and a person is more than an automatic vending machine, business transaction or product; a person has a personality, and just like a person, your business’ brand needs to show its personality. For example, in Apple’s iPod advertisement pictured above, Apple goes beyond simply presenting a “product” for you to purchase. It’s the explosive size, lively color and the dancing, active “youthful” silhouette that communicates how the brand wants you to feel when you interact with them.

Let’s take a look at the major contributing factors and ways to communicate your brand identity.

Logo and Name – Your logo and name are often the first thing people see, and they work essentially as a visual representation of your name. “Brand Recognition” usually refers to people recognizing your logo or your company name, but brand-building encompasses more than that, because in brand-building, the focus is on what people will think of and how they will feel when they hear or see your name.

Atmosphere – Think of Starbucks, what does it make you think of? Wood paneled décor, warm yellow lighting, comfy seating and the cozy smell of coffee, right? What about McDonalds? Bright colors, bright lights, play areas and a whimsical looking clown. Consider what you want your customers to think of and experience when deciding on your décor and environment. How does it make people feel? If you don’t like the view from your windows, get a wall mural that gives your clientele the view you want them to experience; customize everything and make your business’ space the one that people will want to come back to.

Community Outreach – What does your business and it’s employees do during down time? Lay on the couch and watch TV?  Buy fancy things and party all night? Volunteer at a neighborhood shelter? That’s not to say you need to literally go volunteering, but it means you should think about the image your company projects beyond the professional realm. Does your business donate to any causes, or participate in fundraising efforts? Does it sell fair trade goods or use particularly energy-conscious equipment? Let people know what your brand and employees care about.

Work Environment – You might be surprised to see this listed here, but think about the companies we’ve all recently read about in the news and you’ll find that most of the negative brand associations for these companies are related to disenchanted workers speaking out about their abysmal working conditions. On the other end of the spectrum are brands like DreamWorks, Costco, and Whole Foods, all of whom are famous for their widely-recognized employee-friendly policies and happy, helpful workers. Your employees are also part of your brand. Provide a supportive business culture and guide employees on how to best represent your brand and customers will feel and apreciate the difference, too!

Advertising

Your customer’s relationship with your company begins and ends with your brand. What keeps your business profitable is, of course, sales, but the ideal customer comes to buy from your business or use your service specifically because they want to support your brand, not just because they want a product. That’s why it is important to really identify clearly who your ideal target customer is.

Advertising is about communicating what you have to offer through sales, coupons, radio and TV ads, and posters. An advertisement is soliciting a meeting between your ideal customer and your company, and the difference between a customer who knows your brand and one who doesn’t is like the difference between asking a stranger on the street to go to coffee with you, and asking a friend.

Advertising, Branding and Trust

Let’s examine this through the lens of a personal relationship. In the two scenarios below, let’s say that your brand is you; your product is a cup of coffee and your customer is your friend:

Scenerio A: You call up your friend and ask them to come over because you have a cup of coffee you’d like them to purchase. Most likely, your friend will feel you were only interested in making a deal; that you (the brand) don’t really care for them, their feelings or their experience – because you’re clearly placing your product and profit before your relationship with them. What’s missing here? A genuine brand relationship.

Scenerio B: You ask them to come over for a cup of coffee because you want to visit with them, engage in conversation and enjoy some warm and cozy time together. In this instance, you’re making the relationship between you, and how your friend will feel when they engage with you, more important than the product – and you are experienced as being a trusted and genuine person (brand).

The bottom line is to consider the many ways that your brand goes beyond colors, logo design or a jingle, to provide the experience and feeling your consumer is seeking. Once you clearly identify who your ideal customer is and what they need and are specifically looking for, you can pinpoint what your brand should be doing to gain your customer’s trust and deliver what they want. Once you do, your business’ brand can generate loyal followers, who will keep coming back for more.

About the author: Chris Garrett is marketing writer who blogs about aesthetics in marketing, brand building, and advertising for Megaprint.comOn Twitter he’s @GiantGarrettArt.

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Marketing Your Brand Throughout the Holidays

Marketing Your Brand Throughout the Holidays, from Alice Jenkins, gives 4 ways your business can make the most of the holiday season (or any season!) to make your brand stand out. This is another in our guest blogger seriesRead more about Alice in her bio below. If you would like to be a guest blogger for BrandTwist contact Jamie@BrandTwist.com for more information.

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Amidst the chaos that is the holiday season it can be tough to make your brand stand out among the rest. This doesn’t always require innovative creativity or a hefty marketing budget. For the businesses that don’t exactly have a million-dollar budget to air commercials, take up billboard space, and buy every piece of ad-space on the internet, the key to marketing your brand is variety. Here are four cost-effective ways to market your brand this holiday season that will both show good character and expose your brand to the masses:

1. Parades

If there is any kind of parade coming through your town you must be a part of it. Make it a point to get the employees together and build a float that plays off of your particular line of business. Holiday parades receive a relatively large amount of media coverage by their community and if you were to win an award for your float you could receive even more coverage.

2. Branded Item Giveaways

The holiday season is a time of giving. Let your customers know you appreciate their business by giving away a free branded gift with every purchase. For a business the most effective gifts for marketing are the ones that are directly useful during the holiday season. Branded ornaments to hang from the tree, branded pens to sign cards or gift tags with, probably the most underutilized promotional item of the winter; hand warmers. Read more about effective use of SWAG here.

3. Social Media/Website

Customize your webpage with a winter or holiday-themed background. Add mistletoe here, a few snowflakes there; remember your website is an extension of your place of business. Imagine if someone walked into your store and saw nothing to evoke holiday cheer. Constantly update your social media page and let your followers know the most recent deals, hours of business, and any other happenings.

4. Charity

So many businesses fail to see how well a charity fundraiser at their place of business can market their brand and attract new customers. Offer discounts to those who donate a certain amount of food or money to a philanthropy organization. It will establish great public relations for your brand and potentially lure new customers to your establishment.

Parades and social media may seem be the meat of the marketing plate here but don’t neglect the value of good public relations through charity and showing appreciation to your loyal customers with giveaways.

About guest blogger Alice Jenkins: 

Alice Jenkins is a marketing writer for the custom pens supplier, Pensxpress. She enjoys helping small businesses come up with new and innovative methods to get their brand out there amidst the holiday cheer. On Twitter she’s @alicejenkins37.

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Stand Out in a Bag Full of SWAG

Creative twists on how to make SWAG unique and our business get noticed. This entry, Stand Out in a Bag Full of SWAG, from Julie Hartwell, is another in our guest blogger seriesRead more about Julie in her bio below. If you would like to be a guest blogger for BrandTwist contact Jamie@BrandTwist.com for more information.

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Everyone loves free stuff. This idea was reinforced recently when I took my 11 year old nephew to the local county fair. There were carnival rides, games, sheep, pigs, and chickens. My nephew was politely interested in all these things but made it increasingly clear to me that he wanted to make sure we went to the Expo Center. It was full of businesses getting their brand out there. What did he want from this building? In a word: S.W.A.G. (Stuff We All Get). He couldn’t get enough branded business pens.

Often it doesn’t even matter who it’s from or what it is. If someone is giving you something with more utility than a brochure, you’ll most likely accept it and be happy. In this respect, pens are great, but you want to do more. Your SWAG needs to stand out as much as you want your business to.

A Case Study of a Successful SWAG Campaign:

Everyone expects to get T-shirts and beverage koozies from companies at promotional events. So is it any surprise that, when people receive average SWAG, it’s not at all exciting?

An analytics startup called Spinnakr realized this, and wanted to do things differently. When Twitter users tweeted about “Shades of Fame”, they would receive their own pair of branded shades in the mail soon after. This is what Spinnakr did right:

  1. It required a commitment on behalf of the potential customer to get the SWAG. It’s always better when you have to work for it right?
  2. Spinnakr used the SWAG to get recognition through social media. If you’re going to give away something for free, make sure you get a return on your investment.
  3. The SWAG was something their target consumers wanted. No one wants another refrigerator magnet. How about a pair of turquoise hipster shades? Umm, yes please!

Create your own SWAG

You’ve made the decision to create your own SWAG, and to do it differently. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Make it useful! SWAG does no one any good if it is useless and forgotten.
  • Be mindful of the industry you are promoting. A cloud storage promoter probably wouldn’t give away branded thumb drives.
  • Be like Spinnakr: make the consumer work for it. You’d be surprised at what people will do for free stuff.
  • Go small for a big return. No one wants to carry a spare tire around with them. It will also help your bottom line; small is cheap.
  • Make sure your SWAG is in line with the ethics of your business. PETA wouldn’t give away leather bound notebooks.
  • Make your brand visible. Even branded underwear will get seen by one person if the brand is prominently displayed.
  • Turn your SWAG into SWAGGER! Be confident in your SWAG. Give yourself an outgoing brand personality. Enthusiasm is infectious, and will really transfer through to the consumer.

About guest blogger Julie Hartwell:

Julie Hartwell is a marketing consultant and fashionista who loves a good campaign almost as much as she loves free stuff. On Twitter she’s @JulieHartwell23.

See if your business qualifies for a BRAND HEALTH CHECK STRATEGY SESSION with Brand School founder Julie Cottineau:

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Lessons That I Learned From Virgin

To see more of our articles for  Women Business Owners Today (WBOT) click HERE.

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So excited to be on the cover of Women Business Owners Today e-zine! This edition focuses on everything from investing in you and your business, to how to manage your online reputation and engage your customers, to the the etiquette of the handshake. I’m deeply honored to be the featured cover story and in the company of so many gifted women offering amazing insight and helpful tips for business & entrepreneurs in this e-zine. I really enjoyed the interview and sharing my journey from working as V.P. of Brand for Virgin to becoming an entrepreneur and creating my own brand consultancy, BrandTwist and Brand School.

Learn how to rock your brand and business with a little inspiration from Richard Branson. Check out this edition of Women Business Owners Today e-zine and my cover story, “Lessons That I Learned from Virgin,” HERE.

Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program, delivers the tools and steps you need to strengthen your brand and your connection to your customers. Get our free brand-building tips and receive access to updates about Brand School’s exclusive programs when you sign up for our newsletter at BrandSchoolOnline.com.

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Dutch Bros. Coffee: Brewers of Brand Personality

The Dutch Bros. brand has built a solid and enthusiastic customer base and gives takeaways that any business can start using to build up their following.  Read about guest blogger Chris Garrett in his bio below.  If you would like to be a guest blogger for BrandTwist contact Jamie@BrandTwist.com for more information.

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Founded in 1992 in Oregon, Dutch Bros. Coffee Company has become a giant in its market out West. As a simple drive-thru coffee stand, you wouldn’t expect a fervent following of their brand. But drive for 5 minutes in downtown Boise, Idaho and you’ll see a rash of Dutch Bros. bumper stickers gracing our cars. Out here, we love our Dutch Bros.- and here’s why.

WHAT’S THEIR ANGLE?

BRANDING SURFACES 

As a drive-thru, Dutch Bros. doesn’t have the opportunity to use in-house branding like custom wall murals, floor runners, or signage that most other enterprises rely on. Instead, they have embraced the philosophy that everything is a branding surface, especially their customers. With an online store full of desirable merchandise bearing their logos and catchphrases, often geared towards the ski and cycling cultures popular in the West, Dutch Bros. hasn’t had any trouble finding space on which to advertise.

MULTIPLE SIMULTANEOUS CAMPAIGNS

Dutch Bros. has utilized a branding tactic of running more than one phrase and logo at one time. Normally, this could be a mistake, as too many marketing campaigns at once tend to muddy the message and make a brand less recognizable instead of more. Dutch Bros. makes it work by being trendy and using phrases and logos that are anything but generic.

The popular Dutch Mafia logo doesn’t even mention coffee- it’s a shady-looking fellow holding a steaming cup. But everyone around here knows that it’s Dutch Bros. coffee in the cup and everyone around here seems to enjoy putting this somewhat sneaky logo on their cars, bags, and clothing.  Along with “Dutch Love” and the new “Rebel” line of energy drinks, the Dutch Mafia campaign has become something of an in-joke for people who know where to get the best coffee in town.

POSITIVE MESSAGE

When you pull through a Dutch Bros. drive-thru, you can bet that you’ll be greeted enthusiastically by a chipper employee. The overtly friendly attitude at every single Dutch Bros. location is a hallmark of their quality of service- it reflects the positivity and friendliness expressed in the Dutch Creed. The owners advocate optimism, good will, and affability- all communicated through their employees.

The abundance of positivity and the playful nature of their campaigns has garnered a rarely seen level of brand loyalty, particularly among the Millennial crowd who appreciates personality. The fact that Dutch Bros. is a Western company lends a feeling of community, despite their decidedly non-local spread from Arizona to Idaho. Their locations are locally owned and the main company engages in multimillion dollar contributions to charitable causes. It’s hard not to root for them.

WHY DOES THIS WORK?

The reason these approaches have proved so effective for Dutch Bros. is that they have sought out support from their community with genuine love and a quirky sense of humor, both important for reaching younger consumers.  The feeling of easy humor and friendliness spans from their mission statement to their campaign designs to their employees to the kinds of swag they offer. They know their general audience and are making the most of the model they’ve embraced.

 HOW CAN WE LEARN FROM DUTCH BROS. COFFEE COMPANY?

The most concrete tool to take from the Dutch Bros. toolbox is the use of swag. The online store, full of higher-quality branded wares, is an extraordinary thing to pull off. What some companies would be giving away as promotional swag, Dutch Bros. is able to sell for profit. From the old-fashioned windmill on their cups to the new Rebel energy drink line they’ve released, it’s all presented artfully on swag you’d actually want to own. Expand your brand in your merchandise by investing in some cool offerings that appeal to the younger generations.

The most important lesson is cohesion.  People are able to think of the Dutch Bros. brand as if there’s one guy in charge of it all, and he’s a pretty cool guy. Some brands suffer from multiple personalities, dissociating themselves from their campaigns or stretching themselves into too many directions. By following Dutch Bros.’ example, you can learn to present multiple ideas across multiple mediums without losing track of your message.

About guest blogger Chris Garrett:

Chris Garrett is a writer, designer, and branding consultant. He, like everyone else in Boise, loves Dutch Bros. On Twitter he’s @GiantGarrettArt.

Finding the Right Job Fit: Large vs. Small

Julie Cottineau gives her top tips from her 25+ years at great companies such as Grey, Interbrand and Virgin in this post, “Finding the Right Job Fit: Large vs. Small” from our series providing insight and action steps for those seeking a career in branding. You can read more entries in this Career series HERE

A question I often get from job-seekers is, “What are the trade-offs of working for a big vs. small company or agency?”

“Does size really matter?”

When deciding between a boutique ad agency, a global one, a major mass-marketer client or a small start up, there are definite pros and cons of each you should consider.

For example, if you have wanderlust, like I did a few years out of college, the bigger the better. I was fortunate enough to spend 3 of my 10-year tenure at Grey Global in the Paris office. This was an amazing, life-changing experience (I met my husband, who is French, while living there). Grey had a fairly established program of sending people around the globe. So while I did have to press to be one of the lucky ones chosen for an international assignment, the program was already well-oiled and very much in place.

I’ve also worked at small agencies when I was first starting out and have found several benefits in the boutique model as well.

These include: 1) access to senior mentors, 2) fewer layers often means more responsibility for juniors and, 3) participation in new business.

On our pitches the entire agency got involved instead of just a small select new business team, and I learned a ton.

But my wisest piece of advice to help alleviate some of the worry over the debate of small vs. large is to prioritize these two more important factors: 1) What account am I working on, and 2) Who am I working for?

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These two factors are more important then the number of employees listed in the directory. A dynamic brand- one that you are really passionate about, even at a relatively small, up and coming Agency or a start up, can teach you a lot and you will invest more time and energy into it – and this will shine through in interviews and your resume as your move on after a while to look for your next opportunity.

Also the right boss – someone who will invest in you, share their wisdom, give you tools, feedback and responsibility- in my opinion trumps any factors of big vs. small. It also doesn’t hurt if he/she also has had experience with both big and small Agencies – so you can benefit from both sides of the coin.

Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program, gives you the strategies and tools you need to create a  personal and professional brand that’s a fit in any sized company. Receive more information about Brand School’s next session and get free brand-building tools and tips when you join our mailing list.

Please also join us on Twitter and Facebook for more insight and discussion on branding.

“It was great pulling everything together from touch points, to pillars. I would recommend Brand School to any small biz owner or entrepreneur.” - Sarah W., Entrepreneur