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.

Twist Your Brand – Grow Your Business

BrandTwist and BrandSchoolOnline.com & CEO, former VP of Brand for Richard Branson’s Virgin, author of “TWIST: How Fresh Perspectives Build Breakthrough Brands” and Westchester, NY resident is a guest on the Business Council of Westchesters “Westchester Means Business”, radio program on WVOX. The Council’s Executive Vice President & COO, John Ravitz, conducted the interview. This session is full of takeaways on the fundamentals of branding for the small business owner and non-profit, how entrepreneurs can TWIST with larger brands to boost their own marketing, innovation and branding, and how working at Virgin inspired Julie’s own entrepreneurial journey.

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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.

Live Your Twist – Quick Twist Video #5

 

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Create fresh ideas for your business by TWISTING your brand with a successful out-of-category brand. Julie Cottineau, BrandTwist and Brand School founder, author of TWIST and former VP of Brand at Virgin shares her proven approach for creating inspired and actionable ideas.

More Quick Twist Video tips here.

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TWIST: How Fresh Perspectives Build Breakthrough Brands by Brand School founder Julie Cottineau.

“This bold book encourages entrepreneurs and brand owners across all types of businesses to think outside the limits of their category and take risks, and gives them the tools to make them stand out from their competitors.” - Laura Winston, attorney, Kim Winston LLP

 

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

Sneezing on the Go with a Twist

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“Keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel” – good advice for drivers, but when you’ve got kids in the back seat, sneezing, sniffling and spilling, that can be a challenge.

While rummaging to find a box of tissues for her young children, mother of three Amy Davis had a close call with a neighbor’s fence. Days later she found the tissue box scrunched on the floor behind the seat. With tissue box in one hand and an eye on the car cup holder, Amy had an “Ah ha!” moment. She realized that what she and thousands of others needed were to have tissues and wipes closer at hand.

Amy took a tissue box and TWISTED it with a travel mug to create the Kiss-u Tissue Tube.  Kiss-u Tissues and Wipes are designed to go in a car cup holder but can fit anywhere a water bottle can go. Eco-friendly, the cardboard tubes are the only reusable and re-fillable dispensers on the market; they have re-sealable tops, and you can customize the tubes with your own design. Kiss-u was a 2014 PPI Most Innovative Product of the Year Finalist.

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Amy created a successful new product delivery system by taking a personal problem and TWISTING for a unique solution.

Are you paying attention to your target’s un-met needs?

Brand School can help you dive into what keeps your target up at night and twisting these insights into innovative product and services. Find out now if your brand qualifies for our upcoming session.

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“Brand School really allowed me to go deep into what my practice was about and how to implement it” - Sandeep Manchanda, Giraffe Partners Program Management 

Innovative Connecting at 35,000 Feet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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How to Build an Innovative Brand – MENG

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I was so pleased to have been invited to present “How To Build an Innovative Brand” to the NJ Chapter of MENG (Marketing Executives Networking Group). This was an energetic, hands-on workshop where business owners and entrepreneurs learned how to use lateral thinking to twist their brands with other successful brands and arrive at creative and inspiring ideas to keep their brands and businesses fresh and reach more customers.
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Everyone was engaged and eagerly participating. The afternoon was productive and fun and I am grateful for the opportunity to share and receive creative ideas with so many enthusiastic participants.
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You can read an insightful summary of the afternoon, including the top pointers, lessons and action steps in this OnDEMAND CMO blog post, “How to build an innovative brand” HERE.
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The Brand of YOU

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“I’M NOT A BUSINESSMAN/I’M A BUSINESS, MAN!” - Jay-Z

Jay-Z got it right. That’s what personal branding is all about. It’s not only your commercial brand that delivers a message to the marketplace; YOU do, too!

Maybe you’ve already worked on branding your business, but have you built a personal brand?  A personal brand is an aspect of branding that can often go overlooked, even though it’s incredibly important in business.

When you are competing for a job it is not just about your education and your skills, it is also about what’s unique in the way you think, the way you work and the things that you are passionate about. People hire people, not resumes.

Whether you’re looking to use your personal brand to get a job, are launching your own business, or want to strengthen your existing business, building a strong personal brand will help you to transform your passions and personality into a brand that works for you.

What is a personal brand? Personal branding describes the process by which individuals and entrepreneurs differentiate themselves and stand out from a crowd.

Having a strong personal brand can help you

  • gain more confidence
  • feel more empowered to charge a premium for your valued services
  • stand out from the competition.
  • enhance your recognition as an expert in your field

Here are three necessary key steps to begin building your personal brand:

1. Tell Your Personal Story – What Makes You Tick

A great brand is a story well told. I often relate how I am the unofficial inventor of the “Pet Rock.” Having a brother who is highly allergic to animals we were never permitted to have a pet; so I created a pet by placing a rock in a Cool Whip container. I put grass in so it could “eat” and poked holes in the lid so my rock could “breathe.” My parents were relieved to see me satisfied with my “pet”. A decade goes by and Gary Dahl is listening to friends complain about their pets getting sick, costing money and taking up their time. He jokingly mentions that a rock would make the ideal pet because it would not need care, make demands or involve emotional attachment. Out of a joke the Pet Rock is born – and he makes millions.

Relating a story like this instantly communicates several things about me and my business. It’s a memorable story which means that I, too, am more likely to be remembered. It speaks to a key tennant of my business: how innovative thinking and taking action, even on ideas we might be inclined to discard, can lead to tremendous success.

2. Link Your Personal Story to Professional Expertise

Richard Branson used his daredevil personality to create buzz around his fledging Virgin brand through stunts like crossing the Atlantic in a Virgin branded hot air balloon. Blake Mycoskie turned a passion for helping poor children in Argentina into the thriving TOM’S footwear brand. UNREAL candy started with a question from a 13-year old kid, “Why does the junk food we love have to be so bad for us?” That question became a mission and a “healthier” candy company was born.

Other well-known examples of linking personal stories with expertise are inventor Sir James Dyson who revolutionized the vacuum cleaner and created Dyson Limited. As the brand was just getting started, Dyson appeared in every advertisement together with his machines.  Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream who brought the “chunk” into ice cream and put “local” and social responsibility on everyone’s radar. They, too, are featured prominently on each ice cream carton.

These successful brands are practically inseparable from the personal brands that created them. Find your unique twist and don’t be shy about linking it with your business.

3. Use Every Touch Point for Your Brand.

Think of every point that a customer comes into contact with you as a chance to communicate your personal brand. Use those moments to make yourself and your business more memorable. Even little moments can have a big impact. The colors of my company, BrandTwist, are pink and purple. When I speak at conferences, I have a little purple bucket that people can deposit their business cards in. It’s a small touch, but goes a long way in reinforcing the brand of “me.”

The social media manager at Virgin Active SA had the following job description in his email signature: Social Media Ninja!  This makes an immediate, enjoyable impact that speaks to the whimsy of the Virgin brand and will long be remembered.

Consider other ways you can stand out besides the usual stationery and business cards. Perhaps you become known for a particular color or an accessory that  is always present in some fashion. Put a twist in your voice mail message. Create a unique salutation.

As an entrepreneur, independent contractor, artist, job seeker or corporate business executive, you are a brand.  As Richard Branson notes, “When you are running a business, the most powerful advertising asset you have is yourself.”

What’s your brand YOU story and how will you use it boost your business?

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.

“Brand School was engaging and helpful to me in learning more about myself and my business. Results came amazingly quick. Now, my brand name speaks my message immediately and I’ve expanded my reach.”  - Lynn Stull, Owner Arts2Thrive  

Your Brand Needs a Gift Guide

This post, Your Brand Needs a Gift Guide, by Company B founder Bonnie Rothman Morris explains how creating a gift guide for your business is a way to explore what your brand really stands for. It’s a great idea and a nice twist on how to reinforce your brand values. This is another in our guest blogger seriesRead more about Bonnie 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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Seth Godin just came out with his holiday gift guide. I trust his opinions, so I enjoyed clicking through his curated group of quirky products looking for ideas. My favorites? Brooklyn-built headphones and a Bob Dylan collection to match. I don’t have a giftee for either, but never mind, what I really loved was how well those products align with Seth’s brand. They’re insider-y and should make you feel smart and thoughtful when you give them. Like Seth.

Any brand can create a gift guide, and it’s a worthy exercise, whether you choose to share your picks on a company blog, with the media, with your customers … or not. The exercise of building a curated lists of gifts your brand could give to someone you care about can help you tap into what you really want to mean to your customers.

Here’s why: gift giving is an art. And every gift tells a story (or it should!). The best gift-givers make the recipient feel special and appreciated by you. The best gift-givers also give gifts that are memorable. What brand doesn’t want their customers to feel that way about them?

Here are some questions to ask to get you started.

  • What are my brand’s core values? How do they translate into my brand’s personality? List them.
  • If my personality is accessible and friendly, for example, what categories of products can my brand legitimately recommend? Think broadly. A food brand can venture into style; a tech brand may legitimately recommend food.
  • If your brand is clever, make sure the gifts are, too. If you’re mainstream, stick with something that’s delightful but relatable. Useful? Twist it up and make it completely useless but fun. If your brand is hip, well, it goes without saying what you need to do. If it’s not hip and you, the gift-giver, are, think about something campy. You get the idea.
  • Play the Amazon game: If my customers like X (i.e., me) they might also like Y. This springs the doors wide open.
  • Most importantly, what do I want my customers to remember about me after receiving this gift?

Once you create your gift guide, there is so much you can do with it. You can make a Vine. (Stop motion animation of the gifts going into a big box). Share it on Facebook or your website. Write a blog post, like Seth, with links. Or, better, buy a bunch of the stuff and send it to your customers. If you’ve done your job right, they’ll remember the gift and, even better, remember your brand and what it stands for.

Okay. We’re putting our money where our mouths are here at Company B. To see Company B’s gift guide, click HERE.

About guest blogger Bonnie Rothman Morris:

Bonnie Rothman Morris became an official storyteller at 6, when she won a short-story writing contest sponsored by the public library in her hometown. She founded Company B in 2008 to deliver Public Relations, Social Media and Branded Content. Today, she tells smart stories for consumer brands that captivate and engage. She’s also famous for giving great gifts. Tweet @bonniemorris.