Why Brands Like American Girl Build Fans Not Customers

Great brands touch consumers hearts, not just their heads. They go beyond rational proof points and connect on an emotional level, and that’s why it’s the last criteria for the brands we choose on our BrandTwist Safari. So our Safari attendees can see brands that get this.

These brands know that branding is a relationship, not a transaction.

Ever feel so passionate about a brand you can’t wait to tell your friends all about it? You’re on a mission to get them to try it too so you can share this experience? When you feel and act this way, you’ve become a brand ambassador and your relationship has gone way beyond the “client zone” to something deeper.

I remember back in the day my friend Shari couldn’t believe I had not yet tried Netflix (this was back in the red envelope era). Every time I would see her she would pester me about it. I actually had a fleeting suspicion that she might be getting a commission from them. Not until I tried the brand and realize how much it changed my ability to watch TV and movies on my terms- did I understand why she was being so persistent.

The difference between fans and buyers.

When we choose brand experiences to visit on our guided BrandTwist Safaris, we look for brands that have fans – not just buyers. Brands that understand the emotional need they are filling – and who work hard to keep that relationship healthy.

American Girl Place is one such experience we will be visiting on our upcoming Safari.

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This brand really gets that they are not just selling dolls. They are fostering important friendships. The entire brand experience is designed around this special bond.  From the cafe where you can dine with your doll, the hospital where dolls are treated with special TLC, the Hair Salon with its pampering services for both girl and doll -even the clothes where you can dress like twins – American Girl is fostering a unique friendship. And not surprisingly, given this bond, commanding a premium price.

Your business can learn so much from TWISTING with American Girl and other brands about building deeper, and more profitable relationships with your customers

Join us in person in NYC as we visit Microsoft, American Girl, and more on our Brand Safari.

TWIST Book Julie Cottineau

How Twists Grow Business

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This is a replay of Julie Cottineau’s webinar presented to UPenn students and alumni on how to use branding to grow business. A lively Q & A session followed. This is loaded with helpful TWISTS, tools and takeaways for business owners of large to small businesses, non profits, or personal brands. You can hear the replay HERE. 

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

A Sipping Selfie TWIST

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 Selfies are how Millennials share their lives – and normally this is a “commercial free” zone – but how can brands add just the right meaningful and useful TWIST to become a part of their story?

Here’s an innovative selfie TWIST from Coca-Cola Israel for the Coca-Cola Summer Love campaign, Israel’s largest outdoor brand event. Coca-Cola noticed that their consumers were taking a lot of photos, but not photos that included their product. So they came up with a selfie picture- taking bottle. The drinker tips the bottle up to 70-degree angle it snaps a photo, that shows the bottle and consumer taking a sip. These photos can be shared on Coca-Cola’s Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram accounts. Users can tag themselves and friends to spread the news of the event.

Look for TWISTS that bring customers deeper into the experience of your brand and inspire them to share and help keep your product, service or business on the social radar.

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

A Tasty Tiffany Eye-Worthy TWIST

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Tech-savvy Generation Z’s and Millennials’ use social media to communicate and spread the word about what excites them, what they enjoy and brands they love. If a brand wants to get noticed, providing an “eye-worthy” TWIST is key to making it into Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Restaurants have learned this as gastronomy is becoming a favorite way for GenZ’s and Millenial’s to spend their money. Some restaurants have redesigned interiors and services to be more “Instagram-friendly”.  Some offer discounts in return for social media reviews or limited-time specials, like this eye-catching TWIST: The Peninsula Bangkok hotel TWISTED with Tiffany’s to create a Tiffany Afternoon Tea that includes handcrafted, jeweled, sweet delicacies inspired by the Tiffany brand’s jewelry and iconic blue box.

Says Wanda Pogue, chief strategy officer at Saatchi & Saatchi New York, in Luxury Daily, “… From a ‘grammed brunch with friends to a Cronut that they waited an hour in line for, they get a great story to share and an emotional payoff that is as big, if not bigger than what traditional luxury goods provide  – but without the big financial investment.”

Are you offering your customer’s “word of eye” enticements to help spread the word about your brand or business?

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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.

Heels with an Adaptable TWIST

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Transitioning from daytime casual to nighttime dress often means carting around a second pair of shoes or leaving and extra pair at the office or in the car… it’s cumbersome and inconvenient. What we need is a footwear TWIST that liberates our choices… and that’s exactly what French shoe designer Tanya Heath has done. They’ve TWISTED to create one shoe with interchangeable heel options, giving the wearer control and the freedom of choice.

They provide one pair of shoes, with multiple, snap-on, heel height options. The shoes and heels are sold separately-and the extra heels fit handily into a handbag. A huge plus for end of the night moments, when you are tired and want to slip into a more comfortable heel.

Tanya Heath literally walked a mile in their target market’s shoes. They weren’t afraid to TWIST outside the (shoe) box and de-construct the traditional product experience to come up with a more user-friendly option.

Sometimes the parts are greater than the whole. Is there something you could de-construct to come up with an innovative solution that makes life easier for your market?

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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.

Home Grown Cocktails with a TWIST

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Enjoying a cocktail is nothing new. Neither is having an herb garden. But TWIST them together and you get Grow Cocktails, an innovative addition to a do-it-yourselfer’s happy hour.

Grow Cocktails offers a complete herb garden growing kit – that comes in an egg carton. The clever (and eco-friendly) packaging makes this product really stand out.

The sassy messages, “Grow happiness in small spaces” and “Relax. Enjoy. Be Happy” reinforce their brand promise of delivering an easy-going and fun experience from sowing the seeds to sipping the cocktails. They also have Grow Pizza, Grow Salsa and Foodie Garden in a box if you want a snack to go-with.

What two experiences can you TWIST together to surprise and delight your customer?

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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.

Packaging With a Loving TWIST

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Yogurt is centuries old… and it’s received every spin imaginable to make it more user-friendly and accessible from individual serving sizes to flavors and toppings – and even squeeze tubes. It’s hard to stand out in this over-saturated market… but Yoplait found a charming, simple TWIST with their new GoGurt Write On! tubes.

Inspired by Back-to-School, but great all year round – this package gives mom’s and dad’s the opportunity to pack a little inspiration and love along with their kid’s lunch boxes. It makes them a central part of the product experience.

What TWIST could you incorporate to brighten your customer’s day and make it easier for them to feel a personal connection with your brand?

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

A Museum With a Take Me Home TWIST

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What’s the cardinal rule at any museum? Don’t touch the artwork! Now the Jewish Museum’s “Take Me (I’m Yours) exhibit TWISTS this convention by engaging visitors as co-creators and encouraging them to take part of the art piece home with them. This changes the actual piece, and it continues to evolve throughout the life of the exhibit.

With the TWIST of give and take this exhibit not only provides visitors a novel, memorable experience but it’s also an opportunity for the museum to rethink it’s role from that of archivist to sharer. This reinforces the Jewish notion of “diaspora” for the artwork- “spreading beyond your homeland” – with a positive TWIST and helps to make a deeper connection with their visitors.

What TWIST could you “give” to your customers that will make them feel more a part of your business?

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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.

 

Trader Joe’s Caring With a Twist

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When we are feeling down or under the weather, we all need some comfort. We love Trader Joe’s packaging TWIST. They use the tissue box packaging to let you know they care and want you to feel better! We love the personal signatures like “love, tissue” that brings the point home.

What will help make your customers feel more loved? Little touch points, like packaging copy, are a great way to ad a little delight to their day – and keep you fondly on their next shopping list.

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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.

Pokemon GO: Gaming With a TWIST

Next time you see a group of teenagers glued to their phones in public, do not assume they are on Instagram or Snapchat. Rather, they traveled to this specific location to replenish their supply of Pokeballs at what is called a Pokestop. That’s right. They are engulfed in the world of Pokemon GO, the smartphone application with a TWIST that is sweeping the nation.

As a rising high school senior, I have many friends who have been involved in the Pokemon franchise as long as I can remember. They would wait on the long lines at Gamestop and Best Buy for the release of each Pokemon installment. However, the game has never garnered my interest until now, with Niantic’s release of Pokemon GO.

In Pokemon games, you are thrown into a new world where wild creatures, named Pokemon, run free with special powers. A professor, an avid Pokemon researcher, asks you to catch different kinds of Pokemon and bring them back to him for his nonstop research. All the way, you battle other Pokemon “trainers” and level up.

Pokemon GO has a new TWIST: it incorporates the concept of augmented reality. The world we live in is merged with the Pokemon world, enhancing the reality we see day to day. This is quite different from virtual reality, where you are fully immersed in a new environment. While virtual reality simulates your physical presence in a new atmosphere and synthetically creates a sensory experience, augmented reality simply brings artificial aspects into the world we live in. Never has an augmented reality experience been so accessible before the release of Pokemon GO.

Pokemon GO’s other TWIST is its use of physical activity. In order to successfully play the game, you must be active. The app forces you to walk to new locations to make Pokemon appear, battle other players, and replenish your training supplies. In some cases, you must walk a certain distance, often between 2 and 5 kilometers, to activate certain aspects of the game.

Unfortunately, your supply of Pokeballs is limited. It is a devastating feeling to be without these red and white spheres, as they are essential for gameplay. The Niantic team found a way to incorporate physical activity with the replenishing of Pokeballs with the creation of Pokestops. These locations, usually found at landmarks, allow you to replenish your Pokemon tools every five minutes. You must be at this location for the Pokestop to be activated. Your local church, park, or memorial just may be a Pokestop! The concept of Pokestops works great for city dwellers, where there are multiple Pokestops on every block. Pokestops are much more scarce in rural areas, where players must travel half an hour to encounter one of these necessary locations.

Once you have enough higher-level Pokemon, you can go to locations with Pokemon gyms. These locations, also found at local landmarks, enable you to battle other players. Each Pokemon you catch is equipped with different attack  s and health levels. The higher your Pokemon’s combat power, the better equipped it is for battles. If you are successful in beating the players in the gym, you then take over that gym, leading to many rewards. If you are unsuccessful, your Pokemon loses health. If it tragically loses all of its health points, it must be revived. You can do this by gaining revive tools at your local Pokestop.

Many workers at notable locations, where Pokestops and gyms are located, are in favor of Pokemon GO. Philadelphia park rangers welcome the game, as it draws a younger crowd to the city’s landmarks. The rangers hope that, once players arrive, they will look up from their smartphones and take in their surroundings. In contrast, other famous locations, like the Arlington National Cemetery and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, have different policies. These national treasures have asked Pokemon GO players to turn the game, and their phones, off out of respect.

Pokemon GO is revolutionary, and it is exerting a clear influence on teenagers, as well as twenty-somethings who have followed Pokemon since its initial release in 1996. Its TWISTS, augmented reality and physical activity, make the game unlike any application on the market today. If your children have not downloaded Pokemon GO yet, it is only a matter of time before the game takes over their lives.

How exactly does the game work? Essentially, when you open the app, your smartphone’s screen becomes a map of your surroundings, showing you streets, bodies of water, and more. When moving, different Pokemon creatures will often appear in your path. Once you click on the Pokemon you wish to capture, your smartphone’s camera is activated. The Pokemon is right in front of you! Swipe the Pokeball at the bottom of your screen to toss it at the Pokemon. With proper aim, the Pokeball will engulf the creature, adding it to your inventory.

Some Pokemon are rarer than others, making them harder to catch once found. The female Nidoran in the image to the right has a measly combat power of 10, making it a very common Pokemon that is easy to catch. Meanwhile, there are Pokemon with combat powers that exceed 1000.  It is rumored that the more notable your location, the more notable the Pokemon you will encounter. You are more likely to find a rare Pikachu at the Eiffel Tower than you will in a rural Idaho potato farm. The rarest Pokemon that I have caught (so far) is a Venomoth with a combat power of 290 – not too shabby for a novice Pokemon player.

Think about ways you can TWIST to involve your customer more. There are easy-to-build app programs, loyalty apps, even the classic Bingo card or a “Find the star” on a receipt could make a more lasting impression on your market.

 About the author:

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Justin Cohen is a rising senior at Dobbs Ferry High School. An International Baccalaureate Diploma Candidate, Justin hopes to pursue a career in advertising. He is happy to be a part of the BrandTwist team!  You can reach Justin on Twitter at @justcohen18 and via email at justcohen18@gmail.com.

 

 

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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.