Opera With A More Approachable TWIST

opera

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?

Twist angle white

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 Delightfully Cheesy Twist

cheesepencils

A sure way to your customers’ hearts is to make it easy for them to enjoy you anywhere and any time. This creative TWIST was produced by German ad agency Kolle Rebbe for The Deli Garage, a food label that supports small manufacturers of delicacies, as a limited first edition of 500. It was sold out 2 weeks after its launch!

Take a Pencil & Sharpener, twist it with parmesan cheese and you have Parmesan Pencils, a unique product that permits cheese-lovers to have freshly-grated cheese close at hand. The Parmesan Pencil “Sharper” flakes the cheese, and you can keep your “pencils” right in a briefcase or purse. Isn’t everything better with cheese?

cheesepencil

Helping your customers getting easier access to your brand will turn casual buyers into loyal ambassadors. What TWIST can you add to make your product or service always top of mind?

Brand School gives you the tools to develop innovative touch points with a TWIST. Find out if your business qualifies for a one-on-one Brand Health Check Strategy Session HERE.

bt-health-check-2

 

 

 

“If anyone needs to understand the PROPER professional way that WILL make a difference for branding your business, Brand School is your go to source.” – Mike Sass, Entrepreneur

A Travel Twist for Pets

pethotel

Every pet owner who travels – and can’t bring their pet along – knows how inconvenient it can be to deal with the scheduling around boarding their pets. Most conventional pet boarders aren’t open 24/7 for drop off and pick up, which means extra boarding days for your pet, extra time off work and extra expense for you. But, what if you took a pet boarding & grooming facility put it right at the airport, kept it accessible 24/7 and offered terminal shuttle service and discount airport parking?

You’d have THE solution to every traveling pet owner’s need… and you’d have the hottest growing trend in pet boarding being offered by businesses like Now Boarding and Pet Paradise  – Airport Pet Hotels.

They conveniently place hotels for people at airports, why not for people’s pets?

“We’re running a hotel, but instead of people, we check in dogs, cats, the occasional pot-bellied pig and, once, some llamas.” says Pet Paradise Founder Fred Goldsmith.

How can you make your service or access to your business more convenient? Take a look at where you are not – and consider why you should be there.

Brand School takes a look at best practices of successful businesses and shows you how to twist and apply them to grow your brand. Learn more about what our Brand School Faculty can do for you HERE.

BT BrandTwistSchoolLogosHSept27withTagline

“Julie gave great examples in Brand School that inspired me to think outside the box. I especially appreciate her attention to everyone’s brands and her insightful comments. Thank you!” - Jamie Lacroix, Marketing Department for a Non-profit

3 Signs Your Brand Has the Blues – And How To Shake Them Off

Sad in hat

Could your brand have seasonal mood disorder? It’s possible. Many of us find it challenging to stay motivated – and it can be particularly hard to jump-start our lives after the bustle of the holidays, and winter’s colder weather and shorter days are no help. It’s hard to focus on business-building when you’d rather hibernate. But we’ve got some sure-fire ways to bust your brand out of the winter blues.

Watch a replay of our webcast that will help you banish the brand blues “The Yin and Yang of Powerful Brand Stories” with BrandTwist Founder & CEO and former VP of Brand for Virgin Julie Cottineau and Head of Creative Planning at iStock Rebecca Swift. 

Here are three “Brand Blues” symptoms to look for and ideas to get your business back on track:

1) You’re feeling the Brand Love, but not the Cash

You’ve got something special to offer, and you’re connecting with people that your product or service could help. They seem interested, but when it comes to the moment of truth they’re just not buying. This is the dating equivalent of being told “you’re nice but let’s just be friends”

This usually happens when you don’t really understand your ideal customer and what they need. What keeps them up at night? And what triggers are going to help them move from being a “Brand-friend” to a committed “Brand user and fan”?

We spend quite a bit of time on defining our Bull’s Eye target in our Brand School program for small businesses. The most important part of making sure you’ve got a vibrant brand is targeting the right people, understanding their motivations, and speaking directly to those feelings to get them to act.

Take a look at your website (or your primary marketing vehicles) and ask yourself honestly…is it clear who this product or service is for and why should they buy it?

Does it present a clear statement of a problem and a solution that’s going to shake people out of their own doldrums, get them to identify with what you are promising and take action?

Before you re-do your website, or any other marketing materials – stop and think about your target – who they are and what they need. Don’t worry about being too narrow.  It’s better to connect with fewer people who actually buy your product or service, then have a lot of generic messaging that appeals to everyone, but converts no one.

2) You’re Bored with your own Brand

When you work day in and day out on the same business in the same category it’s hard to keep the fresh ideas flowing. But we need innovation to drive interest and keep our customers coming back.

While Brand Boredom is understandable, it can be harmful to your business. When you’re not excited about what you’re promoting – this comes across loud and clear to customers – in face to face meetings and even online.

So how do you keep it fresh? You need to TWIST it up.  When you stay too focused on your competitors and your own category, you end up with “me too” brands.

We believe you need to look at old problems from new and different angles. This is where the TWIST in BrandTwist comes in.

Leverage this lateral thinking by imagining what a beloved brand (in a different category) would do if it took over your business. How would this brand use its DNA to innovate your market?  Twist an inspirational brand (ex. Virgin, Zappos, Starbucks, Apple) with yours and see the impact it can have in creating fresh ideas for your business.

If you own a dry cleaning business you might want to TWIST it with Starbucks.  We’re not suggesting you serve better coffee to waiting customers. We want you to dig deeper. Think about how Starbucks customizes each order – could you offer a new type of dry-cleaning service where you offer a menu of customized options? “I’ll take a ½ starch, ½ steam no hanger pressing please.”

Innovation is critical in creating strong brands. Our Brand School curriculum offers several specific lateral thinking exercises and teaches you how to apply the TWISTS of break through brands to your business.

3) You have too many ideas and no idea how to move forward

For some people, the source of brand blues is having too many ideas. Many business people have an idea a day (if not a minute) and this can be overwhelming. It can lead to a crippling condition we call “fear of the idea”. Every new idea brings up a whole new level of stress on how you’re going to execute it.  This state can actually lead to a situation where nothing gets done.

Have no fear. The trick is in prioritizing which ideas to pursue and breaking down the steps to move them forward.

Look for ideas that have both high feasibility and high impact. By high feasibility we mean ideas that can be reasonably implemented. They may take some investment in resources or partners, but they don’t require inventing a completely new manufacturing process or any involvement from NASA. By high impact, we mean the ideas that would appeal strongly to your target and support your brand’s overall authority and distinctiveness.

Lastly, we recommend that you break down these ideas into small actionable steps. Instead of saying “I need to create a fresh, new killer website” we recommend breaking it into smaller steps that you will actually get done. For example, asking friends via Facebook and LinkedIn for web designer recommendations, investigating online resources like 99 Designs, creating a web design brief, and identifying 3 websites you admire (and pinpoint why) so you can share them as examples with your designer when you find them

We also recommend finding a Branding Buddy to keep you accountable and moving forward. Weekly check-ins (over Skype or coffee) will help you keep moving ahead. Program these into your calendar – pick a consistent day and time that works for you and your buddy and make these meetings a high priority.

In Brand School Master Class we have found that creating a private community of like-minded entrepreneurs to support one another and hold each other accountable is a very effective way to help everyone stay on track and bring their ideas to market.

We know its cold and your brand might be feeling the winter blues right now, but with a bit of ingenuity, discipline and the right kind of support your business can emerge into Spring stronger and more invigorated.

Interested in more brand building tips? Make sure you check out our Brand School Master Class site and join our mailing list. You will get a free e-book “Brand Like a Billionaire – 5 Tips I learned from Richard Branson”. You can also learn how to qualify for a FREE one-hour strategy Brand Health Check session with Julie (valued at $500).

AND don’t forget to watch “The Yin and Yang of Powerful Brand Stories” FREE webcast replay with BrandTwist Founder & CEO and former VP of Brand for Virgin Julie Cottineau and Head of Creative Planning at iStock Rebecca Swift  - all about on Visual and Verbal Branding.

In just one hour you’ll bash your brand blues and learn:

  • How to get your brand noticed by creating a compelling story using pictures and language.
  • The three main tones that resonate with customers.
  • How the verbal and visual balance helps your business succeed.

Watch it HERE.

 

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.

yourbrandhere

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.

bt-health-check-2

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.

swag

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:

bt-health-check-2

Branding Tips for Better Business on American Express OPEN Forum

openforum

We are thrilled to have been a contributor on branding to American Express OPEN Forum.

If you aren’t familiar with OPEN Forum, we urge you to check it out. This forum, in partnership with Linkedin, is open and accessible to everyone and you’ll find amazing resources for every aspect of running a business, entrepreneurship, marketing and branding. Business owners, entrepreneurs and experts can showcase  expertise, help others succeed and discover ways to help propel business forward.

See more of OPEN Forum and catch additional ways to make your business and fast-paced life a little easier and more profitable, HERE.

Check back in with us here: we’ll keep this list up-to-date with links to all of our posts on OPEN Forum:

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. 

“If anyone needs to understand the PROPER professional way that WILL make a difference for branding your business, Brand School is your go-to source.” – Mike Sass, Entrepreneur

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.

DutchBrosCoffee

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.

Package Your Brand Online (The Right Way)

This guest blog post, Package Your Brand Online (The Right Way), is from Dr. Marina Kostina CEO & Founder Wired@Heart. Marina is an expert at helping entrepreneur’s bring their businesses online. Marina is a co-author an Amazon Bestseller, “The Golden Climate in Distance Learning”, a winner of several prestigious awards. She  also helped build online training programs and products in over 40 countries.She was intstrumental in the creation of my own 8-part Brand School online Branding class. The following post is packed with useful advice and also mentions an invitation to a  FREE online training session: “Multiply Your Impact and Income Online,” which has now completed. If you would like more notice of future events and offers, please join the BrandTwist mailing list. 

Why go online?

You love your clients.

You love connecting and engaging with them.

And you’d love being able to make a difference on a larger scale.

But there is only one of you! And that means that no matter what, your impact (and income) will always be limited.

We live in a very exciting time, as there are literally billions of online businesses nowadays.

However, 95% of online businesses fail and they fail in a matter of months!

These statistics tell us two very important things:

1) Small business owners finally realize that the online environment has tremendous potential for impact, profitability, and building the lifestyle of their dreams.

2) Most online businesses fail, and fail super-fast because they do not know how to bring their brand online in an effective way.

Many “business gurus” promise that designing an info product will solve all your financial frustrations, magically attract lots of clients, and ultimately will help you build a lifestyle of your dreams. I strongly believe that most info products experts are missing the KEY ingredient: building connection and engagement in cyberspace.

How to make your brand shine online the right way:

After 10 years of working online and conducting research on online interactions for my doctorate dissertation, I know one thing for sure: connection and engagement is THE KEY to success in cyberspace! I believe that an engaged client is a happy client. It is a client who will keep on buying your products, develop a sense of identity with your brand, will produce great results that he will gladly share with others, and will become your biggest fan and an advocate for your business!

There are 5 types of connection that businesses need to foster while bringing their brand online:

Strategy # 1: Building Client-Client Connection

The client-client type of engagement is where clients engage with each other, creating an online community. Often, such communities are considered to be a “bonus” to an online product. I argue that developing such communities is a MUST. You can easily create a community of like-minded individuals even with self-paced, downloadable products by providing an opportunity to access an online forum, or maybe creating a private Facebook group where your clients can interact and share their experiences, questions, and success stories.

Strategy # 2: Building Client-Mentor Connection

The secret of engagement is this: you need to find a way of making your trainees feel that they are involved in a learning process that they own, one that they have helped to construct, and that they are working on a piece of work that is relevant to their lives and interests.  They are searching for information and finding in it what is of most interest and relevance for their piece of work, reporting the progress of their work to others, and benefiting from the feedback.  They are giving constructive input that can help fellow participants clarify concepts and arguments in their work, being producers of knowledge rather than consumers of it, and having a hand in their destiny and living creatively as they progress through the program.

Strategy # 3: Building Client-Content Connection

Client-content engagement refers to the client’s accessing the content of the course or a program. You have to consciously and continuously facilitate discussions, and guide your clients toward the program goals. Remember, this is not a mentorship approach in which you tell your clients where to go to find answers; rather, you encourage them to explore the parameters of an issue, raise questions, and go to the program content and other valid sources of information to find their own answers.

Strategy #4: Building Client-Platform Connection

A Learning Management System (LMS), an interactive video, or a downloadable PDF series- are all important in the learning process: it is a part of the learning community, as your clients must engage with the technical platform that delivers your product. As the mentor, your responsibility is to facilitate interaction between the platform and the client. In order to minimize early dropouts because of technology, you should help your clients with navigation tools by creating a short video or a detailed PDF cheat sheet that explains how to interact with the platform, download a product or post a comment in a discussion forum. You can also develop problem solving queries in which you can invite clients’ comments on the culture of online learning, its strengths and its limitations, and ask for suggestions on how their current learning experience might be improved.

Strategy #5: Building Client-Learning Process Connection

Clients need to feel that the learning process respects their needs and that they are trusted to have a say in what they learn and how: they need to feel that they have agency and that you are fostering their autonomy. Explain to the clients the basics of the online interactions, where each participant creates a new identity and information might be miscommunicated more easily than in face-to-face interactions. Delayed response and technology might create a sense of isolation. When the clients are aware of the challenges of the online environment and have the tools to deal with these challenges, they will less likely become frustrated with the program and will not lose their motivation.

In conclusion, if you want to multiply your impact and income, you MUST bring your brand online! Imagine not having to worry about attracting new clients. Imagine creating a referral powerhouse where your satisfied clients spread the word about you! (Remember, people would more likely buy a product recommended by their friends).

I know that the process might sound scary for many of you.

I created a FREE training session: “Multiply Your Impact and Income Online”. 

In this training you will discover 3 simple steps to:

  1. Big Idea: Finding your product’s main idea that will instantly connect with your clients
  2. Design: Weaving connection and engagement into the design of your product
  3. Delivery: Building connection and engagement during delivery of your product

Sound interesting? You will find more information here:

I cannot wait to see you!