Hit the Mic with Stacey Harris and Julie Cottineau

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We are excited to bring you this series of podcasts from Social Media Expert and Brand School Social Media Faculty Advisor Stacey Harris. This is a free series of talks with BrandTwist Founder & CEO Julie Cottineau about how to make your brand really stand out. They discuss ways to make branding decisions easier and how to take what the big brands do and apply their twists to your brand to build stronger, more profitable businesses – even in a crowded marketplace.

Stacey is a Brand School graduate and we are really excited to now have her as a member of the Brand School Facutly. Stacey’s site, TheStaceyHarris.com, is full of social media marketing insight, podcasts featuring chats with business experts, and courses to help you get more bang from your social media effort.

SO GET READY for tons of branding, marketing and business innovation takeaways – listen to the podcasts here:

Brands That Stand Out with Julie Cottineau – Episode 101 

Better Branding with Julie Cottineau – Episode 27 


Connecting with other business owners or entrepreneurs is an effective way to keep your business ideas fresh. In Brand School Master Class you connect with an exclusive community of like-minded business owners and entrepreneurs that support one another and share inspirations to stay on track and bring fresh ideas to market. We’re enrolling now. See if your brand qualifies.

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“Working with Julie is an invaluable experience and a really great use of resources because it opens up so many doors and affects so many areas of  your business.” - Sarah Hinawi, Executive Director, The Purple Crayon Center for Learning and Innovation

Twisting, Moving and Shaking Your Brand


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

Listen to the interview at BRANDFEVER, HERE.

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

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

Some takeaways:

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

Listen to the interview at BRANDFEVER, HERE.


All Your Burning Brand Questions – Answered!

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

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

But how and where do you start formulating your brand?

Do these questions sound familiar:

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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



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


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



Connecting: How to Build an Unforgettable Brand


BrandTwist Founder & CEO and former V.P. of Brand for Virgin, Julie Cottineau, shares her entrepreneurial story and talks about personal branding, innovation, and future brand trends in this interview by Bill Sobel for CMSWire.com. Bill is the principal of SobelMedia and NY:MIEG/The New York Media Information Exchange Group. He’s been described as a media powerhouse and a master connector. (You can connect with Bill on Twitter: he’s @bsobel226 -  tell him we say “Hi”)

CMSWire.com is a popular web magazine published by Simpler Media Group, Inc. There you’ll find an abundance of helpful articles, interviews and resources that keep you in the know about Customer Experience Management, Digital Marketing, Social Business and Enterprise Information Management. Check them out.

Catch Bill’s interview “Connecting: How to Build an Unforgettable Brand” with Julie HERE. 


How to Build an Innovative Brand – MENG


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.
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.
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.


The Brand of YOU



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  

Unisource Inaugural Strategic Branding Conference: Hotel, Lodging, Hospitality


I was honored to be among the presenters at the inaugural Unisource Strategic Branding Conference along side Dr. Chekitan S. Dev, Cornell University School of Hotel Administration; Chris Crenshaw, Vice President, STR and Tony Pollard, President, Hotel Association of Canada.  The focus of this event was to discuss current issues, best practices, and innovative new ways to maintain, protect, and grow an organization’s brand in the Hotel, Lodging and Hospitality industry.

Here are two articles that summarize the event, and provide insightful takeaways that you can begin using right away to grow your business and brand, no matter what field you are in.

Unisource Unplugged Blog:  Trophies, Vomit Bags, and Other Takeaways from our First Strategic Branding Conference

Jackie Sloat-Spencer’s article for HotelierMagazine.com: Unisource Conference Informed on Brand Awareness

Keep your brand fresh and your with the tools and techniques you’ll receive in Brand School, the premier program for business owners and entrepreneurs who want to build stronger, more profitable brands. Receive more information about Brand School’s next session and get free brand-building tools and tips when you join our mailing list.

“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

Event and Presentation Testimonials


I am delighted by the opportunity to interact with so many talented and dedicated business owners and entrepreneurs during our live events, conferences, seminars, workshops and webcast presentations. My sincere appreciation and thanks for generously sharing your comments and takeaways. – Julie 

To view testimonials for Brand School, please click HERE.

“Went to a fantastic seminar with @JCottin founder, BrandTwist. Highly recommend.” -Local Social Media‏ @LocalSoclMedia

B.I.G. Believe, Inspire, Grow sponsored Julie’s “Grow Your Brand Workshop”  and “TWIST” Book Signing in Valhalla, NY:

The participant feedback of the workshop was overwhelmingly positive.  Participants described your workshop as a “Great presentation, very to the point.” “The speaker was very conversational, very experienced.” “Great slides.” “Could have been longer.” - Eridania Camacho, Director, Gateway to Entrepreneurship, Westchester Community College

B.I.G. Believe, Inspire, Grow sponsored Julie’s “5 Ways Women Can Rock at Branding Workshop”  in Ridgefield, CT:

“I came away with concrete ideas about the subject matter and how I could help my business with what I learned from the speaker.” 

“I would absolutely recommend this speaker.” 

“So glad I attended this event. Julie was a great speaker and gave us lots of great ideas about branding.”

“Julie thoroughly knew and conveyed the subject matter with enthusiasm and confidence.” 

“Thank you @JCottin for the excellent #brandingtips today @BIG4Women in #Ridgefield – you were fabulous!”

University of Connecticut event for Connecticut High School Seniors on how to  create innovative brand experiences. From High School Student Entrepreneur attendees:

“The exercise that we did taught me to look at the brands people already love, figure out why, and think of similar aspects to include in our business. Julie also told us some stories from her work at Virgin, stories which gave me confidence in the business our group is developing and a willingness to take risks.”

“Julie said not to think of a brand as just a name and a logo or an ad, but rather a promise and relationship between a business and their customers.”

“Overall, I think this was a very worthwhile workshop. I didn’t realize how vital the brand was until I looked at companies the way Julie made us. I walked out of that auditorium with a new way to brainstorm and a new point of view of the way the general population interacts with major corporations. It was very interesting and quite honestly, it didn’t feel like an hour long session. It was a great experience.”

“I found Julie’s session on brand twisting to be very worthwhile and informative. I definitely appreciated what she was saying – knowing that she had an impressive prior experience with famous companies and people who have paved the way in the business industry.”

“I believe it would have been greatly beneficial for everyone [in my class] to dedicate a week to find a problem in our lives and gain some inspiration from all of the media around us.”

“Julie and team delivered an engaging and hands-on experience—during a busy holiday week—that met our needs and budget! Thank you so much Jean and Julie!”

From attendees at the Marketo Marketing Roadshow 2014 where Julie was a keynote presenter:

“Thank you @JCottin for a very inspiring presentation. A great brand is a story well-told #mktgnation14
@JCottin really enjoyed your talk today at #mktgnation14 up until the part where you said you were a Patriots fan. But I’ll let it slide :)
“Everything about @JCottin‘s talk–from Karen’s hamster to vomit bags to a coffee culture disrupting air travel was excellent. #Mktngnation14
“Julie — your session was the highlight of y day!!! Hopefully, we’ll connect soon about my company’s brand!!”
From participants at a Google+ Branding Hangout hosted by iStock, with Julie Cottineau  and Terry Byford, Director, Corporate Counsel at Getty Images on “The Top 5 Small Business Branding Mistakes”:

You can view a replay of the broadcast HERE.

“This is my second time watching a presentation with you and you ROCKED it! Great content and very helpful for building my brand. Thank you so much.”

 ”Thought the video was incredible! I love that Julie got specifc and my favorite parts were the examples she used – espcially hearing about how the Starbucks logo came about. Who knew! Hope there will be more videos like this!”

@JCottin Just watched Top 5 Small Business Branding Mistakes. Great takeaways! Thanks! @istock #BrandingHangout

“Amazing insight @iStock @JCottin Thank you so much for sharing.”
@iStock … @JCottin I liked your clear and commonsensical advice. I’ve recommended to all my friends who are trying to grow a brand!”
@JCottin It was an awesome refresher/awakener…” #BrandingHangout
“Yup @JCottin - called a meeting at work to action what I’d learnt … absolutely LOVED “walk the talk” “word of eye” #BrandingHangout
@JCottin Thank you for your great ideas on the G-hangout! I learned a lot!”

“I love following @JCottin – Her info is always helpful & enlightening! Thnx again!” 

“Thank you @iStock and @JCottin for your #branding tips. Not going to overlook the little moments anymore. #momentsofmagic #BrandingHangout.”

@JCottin thanks so much for all the great tips in today’s #BrandingHangout. Gonna take @richardbranson words to heart! #screwitjustdoit

@JCottin Really good info. I like the “Thinking of moments to surprise your customers” portion.”

@JCottin It was good general information… your rebranding response was of particular interest to me.”

@iStock @JCottin was an amazing talk. I like the technique suggested for minimising a broad target audience down with emotional triggers.”

@JCottin very interesting. Thanks!”

@JCottin You made some great points in the Google+ Hangout video. I love your branding perspective. Thanks!”

Responses from attendees at an in-person, interactive presentation sponsored by the Marketing Executives Network Group (MENG):

“My first meeting and I was very impressed,  Will definitely attend again.”

“Julie was fantastic – we had a great time and will help me think differently.”

“Creative, practical ideas to explore branding”

“Superb!  Well worth attending.”

“Great program!  Let’s do more interactive stuff.”

“Loved the interactive session!”

“The interactive session was excellent and a good “twist” from the standard presentation –more interactive sessions would be good – builds community too.”

“Great topic, got my thoughts flowing.  Reminded me innovation doesn’t have to be product-focused, there’s lots of room for improvement with services.”

“Brand of You” in-person workshop at The Purple Crayon Center for Learning and Social Innovation:

“Thank you so much or having me at “The Brand of You’ workshop last week. I was really buzzing from all the nuggets I received.” – Elena

“I really enjoyed the session.” – Carolyn

“Julie, thank you for today! It was terrific and I will write a nice review of it in the near future. Everyone seemed energized and enthused after hearing you talk.” – Roma

“Thank you so much for the seminar this morning. I twas really informative and inspirational.” – Alex

“Thanks for the enlightening session.” – Sandeep  Patnaik PhD

“Identifying your brand’s theme song was a really helpful exercise and just the beginning of this incredible workshop. Julie’s technique of finding a theme song as a way to explore what is unique about my personal brand really inspired me.  I came away energized to tell my story…” ”It was a great day (and creative space) – time to focus on business next steps and share with peers. I came away with some ideas that I can quickly put into practice. Julie is a great resource for anyone who needs to kick-start their branding.” - Carolyn Browning, MEEting Needs, LLC.  

Read more about the “brand theme song” exercise and the workshop in Carolyn’s guest blog post: “What’s Your Brand Theme Song?” HERE.

In-person presentation for students and faculty of University of Maryland University College (UMUC) and the Advertising Educational Foundation:

“Julie’s talk set an all time high for audience engagement. She is a natural speaker and it came through! The feedback was that the talk was extremely valuable in advancing our understanding of the theory, and most importantly the practical business building applications, of branding. Everyone loved the TWISTS. Thanks so very much!” - Sandeep Patnaik PhD, Academic Program Director (Marketing), Graduate School, University of Maryland University College.

“Terrific talk! Informative and compelling. Rave reviews from students and professors alike, Thanks Julie!” - Janice L. Spector

Webcast with Rebecca Swift, Head of Creative Planning at iStock, “The Yin and Yang of Powerful Brand Stories”:

You can view a replay of the broadcast  HERE.

“A great brand is a story well told” @JCottin great webinar so far!” – Caitlin Ninedorf

“Thank you very much @JCottin for the Webinar, am still listening but learnt a lot!!!” – Conor Knight

@JCottin @iStock me too. Great presentation so far, loving the info!” – Justin K Hite

“Terrific insights in branding via webinar today by @istock and @JCottin Can’t wait to register for the brand checkup. Hope I get picked!” – Sarah Pease

@JCottin great webinar, excellent reminders and ideas.” – Myra Drolet

“Love your comment about brands telling personal stories @JCottin!” – PWMV Inc.

@JCottin @iStock Thank you for the excellent #branding presentation. Great advice on ensuring brand voice and overall look are aligned.” – Tracie LeBlanc

“Bravo Julie @jcottin & Rebecca @istock for yin and yang of powerful brand stories webinar @brightTALK. Hmmm…innovative, expert, curator?” – Michelle Serrano

“Thanks @JCottin for the valuable info! #istock – Kari Miller

“Enjoyed your presentation #powerfulbrandstories @JCottin @iStock — thanks!” – Deanna Albrecht

“Thanks to @JCottin and @iStock for a KILLER branding images webinar today. We found a gigawatt of @IdeaCharger sparks!” – Idea Charger

“Thank you for the presentation on the yin & yang of powerful brand stories @iStock @JCottin! Looking forward to hearing more from you both.” – Simplicity Principle

“Great webcast! The yin and yang of powerful brand stories – via @BrightTALK | TY @jcottin, @istock – Carmen Alexis

“.@JCottin Thanks for putting on such an informative #brand webinar today. The Yin & Yang of brand #storytelling was fabulous! #brandtwist – Ina S.

@JCottin @iStock Thanks for insightful #branding tips! Great examples of brands using visual & verbal #storytelling to connect w/consumers!” – Maegan C. Paniewski

“Thank you for the great presentation! I appreciate your insight!” – Madalyn Mauncy

“This was an excellent webcast. Well worth my time. Thanks BrandTwist and iStock.” -Stacey Ronczy

“… attended a VERY enlightening webinar about your brand’s “Tone of Voice”. Thanks a lot… great job.” - Devin Sardano

“The yin and yang of powerful brand stories with @jcottin @istock is a breath of fresh air – smart investment of 58:18. ” “Your strategic guide supported by @istock design expertise resonated extremely well.”- Jeremy Aker

Using Imagery for Small Business Success – Webinar Replay

How can you inspire your brand to work harder and smarter for your business? It’s all here in this webinar replay with Rebecca Swift, Head of Creative Planning for iStock, and Julie Cottineau, Founder & CEO of BrandTwist and former VP of Brand for Virgin. Rebecca and Julie focus on the importance of how your brand expresses itself in words and images. You’ll also learn how to see tangible results, use best practices to leverage core brand pillars, and master comprehensive branding tools.

Thank you to iStock for making this free webcast replay available…. AND DON’T MISS OUT ON MORE:

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



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