Grab a Branding Buddy This Winter

The Purple Crayon Center for Learning and Social Innovation

Winter can be a tough time to get creative

During the winter you can really start to feel cooped up. (Most West Coasters need not apply.) Winter has wrapped its chill around everything, ice is prevalent and you’re feeling pretty blue. In fact, January 21st is commonly known as Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the calendar year. And if you’re anything like most people, going slightly stir-crazy in these winter months can hinder your creativity big-time. I know I struggle with it!

Have more fun and get more done

Which is why I’m telling you, right off the bat, to get outside of your head and into your life. Really. Step outside of your office into the crisp (okay, frigid) winter air and go for a midday walk. Skip out of work an hour early, sit in a coffee shop and start stirring up some conversation with the double caf soy latte at the next table over – and maybe spark some new ideas. Know a friend or even a coworker who frequents co-working spaces, networking events or happy hours with like-minded friends? Tag along!

Energy is a funny thing; the negative sort can break your business and damage company morale. But positive energy can take you to a productive place, especially in branding. I want you to think more about feeding off the energy of others. Put yourself out there for more chance encounters and revitalizing experiences. Even overhearing a conversation about, say, social media, could spark a latent business idea you didn’t even know you had.

COME PLAY WITH ME   

I’ve hosted several workshops for branding and innovation through a partnership with Inc Interactive at the Purple Crayon Center in Westchester, NY.  These are in-person sessions with me and other amazing business professionals. The feedback we’ve received has been amazing and the results and takeaways participants get last long after the session ends. One of the big bonuses to attending workshops and events like these is that you’ll meet other like-minded entrepreneurs you can learn from, and who knows, you may even set up some brainstorming sessions on your own!

Keep a watch on the Purple Crayon Center’s schedule for future workshops or sign up for the BrandTwist list for updates on all our future events.

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Twist Your Brand For New Ideas

BrandTwist: Turn on your inner lightbulb

Let’s not kid ourselves. Branding is tough.

There are so many competing brands and messages, it’s can be hard to capture a consumer’s attention (and his/her buying power). But there are some brands that consistently breakthrough and get recognized. We often fast-forward, mute or pause advertisements, for instance,, but we’ll slow down the DVR to watch especially good ones from Volkswagen, Target or Doritos.

But its not just ads. Products and services capture our attention, too. How many of you have friends that are so completely brand-loyal they’ll tell anyone who’ll listen about the virtues of their favorite brand (I’m thinking of Lululemon in particular)? I know I do. So what are these brands doing that’s helping them cut through the noise and turn consumers into brand ambassadors? More importantly, what can your brand take away from these brands?

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It’s crucial to constantly learn from well-loved brands.

Even the most skilled branders, marketers and entrepreneurs can benefit from brainstorming with others and mentally challenging themselves. But it’s really important to take these lessons from brands that are outside of your business category.What does this kind of lateral thinking have to do with great branding? In a word, everything. As entrepreneurs, business owners and marketers, we’re so concerned with what the competition is doing, we forget to look toward brands that are winning. Consumers don’t have this narrow view. They notice when a brand provides great service, and they come to expect it as standard. That’s good for you if you deliver excellence. If not, well…

BrandTwist’s foundation is built on lateral thinking, in part because it’s so effective, and in part because it helps others to be just as successful. Even if you’re a business of one, you can use best practices of brands like Apple to improve your own customer experience. The trick is to pick an inspirational brand that is as far away from your business category as possible. Let’s say you sell lingerie to women; you should twist your brand with a masculine, high-tech brand like BMW. What would BMW do to rev up your business? Think big picture. I guarantee that if you twist your business with just a few brands in other categories, you’ll come up with hundreds of actionable new ideas in a short amount of time.

COME TWIST WITH ME – AND TEST DRIVE SUCCESS

Receive information about priority registration for the next session of Brand School, the premier branding program designed specifically for business owners and entrepreneurs who want to grow their business, and receive our top tips and brand-building tools when you join our mailing list.

“Julie’s active participation in Brand School and  feedback was amazing and helped a LOT. I received great value from this program.” – Leslie Hughes, PUNCHmedia          

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Hone Your Elevator Pitch

This post is part of our series, “Thirteen Tips For Stronger Branding.” See the rest of the series HERE.

TIP # 10: HONE YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH 

No matter what category your brand competes in, it’s becoming harder to stand out, since your potential customers are bombarded with so much information every day. That’s why it’s so important to have a really tight elevator pitch. It helps people “get” what you stand for right away and then quickly decide whether they want to learn more about your brand. Write down your pitch in no more than 250 words and continue to practice and perfect it. Start with one headline promise that highlights what your brand enables, not what you offer – and three support points. Rotate and freshen these points depending on your target audience, but be prepared to tell your story in 3 elevator flights, not 10 or even 30. Learn more about honing your elevator pitch here.

Check out tip #11 in the series, Engage In The Conversation.
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MAKE YOUR PITCH EVEN BETTER WITH BRAND SCHOOL 

Brand building doesn’t mean just designing a pretty logo and creating a cool name. It means choosing a bull’s eye target and defining your unique brand promise to connect with your consumers on an emotional level. Bottom line: you need to pay attention to your brand and perfecting your elevator pitch is a huge part of that.

Brand School’s premier branding program will help you zero-in on your brand.  Brand School takes best practices of beloved brands such as Virgin, Apple, and Zappos and brings them to life in engaging videos, interactive exercises and access to an exclusive private community of fellow entrepreneurs. Learn more about Brand School and find out about our special discounts just for social media friends when you sign up for our newsletter.

“I highly recommend tis class to anybody, to both those who have been in business for a long time, and those just starting out because it will put your business on a different level.” - Dr. Marina Kostina, Distance Learning Specialist, CEO of  wired@heart

It’s Getting Blurry Out There

In this new era of fluid collaboration and two way conversations enabled by social media  the lines between sponsors and content have become increasingly blurred.

I know this. And for the most part I embrace it.

I believe that brands need to find new and non-traditional ways to connect with their consumers by bringing them relevant content and facilitating conversations.

But last week two same day articles in the NY Times made me think maybe things are getting a bit too blurry.

The first article was on  Weatherproof’s use of President Obama as an implied spokesperson.

The second was Glaxo Smith Kline’s proposed funding of a new movie on Americans and Eating in collaboration with the Creative Coalition. As you may know, GSK is the maker of the popular weight loss drug Alli.

Keep reading »

Google Celebrates Popeye’s Creator

You may have noticed this Google doodle of Popeye today. ecsegar09

It’s in celebration of Popeye’s creator E.C. Segar’s birthday (born 115 years ago).

I’ts interesting to think about the endurance and cultural impact of this character and series.

Personally my favorite part of Popeye is Olive Oyl. I love her goofiness and the fact that she’s such an non-traditional femme fatale.

That’s my point of view. What’s your twist?
What has Popeye meant to you?

Sesame Street Turns 40, and Google Celebrates

googlebirdThis image caught my eye this morning.

I love it.

And I love that it’s not over-explained.

The cropping and the subtly just draw you right in.

I did a little Googling (I’m sure that was their intention) and here’s the scoop.

It’s in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Sesame Street Workshop which produces Sesame Street.

You can check out these classic videos on the Huffington Post.

I love the Big Bird legs. They are so iconic.

But I have to say Snuffy is my favorite character.

That’s my point of view. What’s your twist?

Who would you have picked from Sesame Street for the Google Banner?