A Wine Tasting With a Matchmaking Twist

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“Wine… offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.” writes Ernest Hemingway;  but not all wines are created equal…

How do you know what type of wine you prefer, which winery will satisfy your particular taste, what new wine variety you might enjoy? With the multitudes of wines available from around the world and new labels popping up overnight, it’s impossible to taste every one. Liquor stores offer tastings, but they’re infrequent with a limited selection. There are wine-of-the-month clubs, but you either must know what you want to order ahead of time or be at the mercy of the club’s curation – which may not map to your taste preferences.

What if you took a Wine-Of-The-Month Club and TWISTED it with a match-making dating site like eHarmony? You’d get Tasting Room, the matchmaking answer to a wine lover’s or wine newbie’s dreams.

After signing up you receive a 6 mini-bottle tasting kit. You fill out and return a questionnaire rating the samples. This is the start of developing your unique Wine Profile. Your individual preferences guide the customized wine selections in the first case they deliver to you. With each case, you provide more feedback on your taste preferences and their corresponding wine selections become more honed.

Tasting Room saw a missing piece in the wine marketplace and innovated to offer consumers a fun and personalized way to approach and enjoy their product.

Take a look at the missing pieces that customers face in your market. Could your product or service offer the TWIST of a “sampler kit”? Don’t be afraid to ask your customers directly for their feedback or preferences. There are online free services like Survey Monkey that make surveys a snap. Involving your customers lets them know they are important to you and in turn, they’ll become loyal fans.

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Finding the right TWIST can help your brand reach more customers. 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.

 

A Creative Business and Travel Twist

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We hear from work-from-home business owners and solopreneurs how they often  feel isolated and how challenging it is to remain inspired and innovative when they are alone in the same space day-in and day-out.  Something as simple as a little TWIST in the routine, like working from a local coffee shop or library can be a refreshing change – for the short term. A vacation provides some needed rest and relaxation but won’t hone your business skills. What if you had the opportunity to really break free of the isolated work-a-day routine while making new connections and keeping your business thinking cap on?

Take Match.com, twist it with Travelocity.com, and you get Jobbatical, “It’s a word made up of “job” and “sabbatical”. It means a professional career break where people use their skills and knowhow to work on an exciting project in a new team in a new environment – without dipping into your life savings.”

Jobbatical took a look at the growing temporary and part-time employment trend and created a service to bring together employer and employee in a way where each can add value to the other’s business skills and enhance one another’s creative thinking – all while providing a rejuvenating travel experience.

Where would you love to go to get paid AND see the world?

Keeping the creative ideas flowing is essential to keeping your business and brand fresh and alive in your customer’s mind. At Brand School you will connect with an exclusive community of like-minded entrepreneurs and business owners. Our team of experts share their skills and give you the tools you need to innovate and grow your business. Now enrolling HERE.

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“Working with Brand School 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

A Twist That Can Save the Planet

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Plastic bottle caps are washing up on ocean shores and posing environmental health and safety concerns. They are actually number 5 in a top 10 list of commonly found pieces of trash on the shores. The problem is clear, but so far no one has come up with a solution to keep these caps out of our oceans and landfills. That’s until now. Clever Caps has taken a conventional water bottle cap and TWISTED it with a Lego block – they’ve created an innovative solution for a world increasingly concerned about environmental pollution and trash build up.

With Clever Caps, users can create everything from furniture, to light fixtures, to art pieces, to children’s toys – and they interlock with similar crafting blocks already on the market.

We were so impressed by this TWIST that we donated to a crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo. You can too.

Just by adding one simple out-of-category twist, Clever Caps created an all-around friendlier bottle cap that’s fun and more environmentally friendly.

Brand School Master Class gives you the tools you need to create the TWIST that will take your business further. Enrolling now HERE.

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“Brand School’s guidance and support has helped grow my business to new depths of expansion, creativity and financial worth… and keep it growing and transforming to passionately share what I love with others.” - Deborah Coulter, deborahcoulterartflow.com

Entrepreneurial Mastermind with an Adventurous Twist

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“Screw it, just do it!” Richard Branson’s motto has really delivered for him, for the Virgin brand and for countless entrepreneurs inspired by Branson’s success. When you open yourself up to new experiences you gain more confidence and discover new ways to approach old problems.

There’s a lot to gain by getting out of your comfort zone and trying new things. Conferences, classes and meet-ups are a good way for small business owners and entrepreneurs to connect and re-ignite their creative business thinking… but why not kick it up a notch?

Workaway, the first travel agency dedicated to entrepreneurs, takes a mastermind group of entrepreneurs and TWISTS it with a remote travel adventure.

Their premise is to “Get great, like-minded people to spend time together in fantastic surroundings. The goal is to move our businesses to the next level, get new knowledge and relations for life.”

Enrollees can choose from two experiences: a “Camp” where 20 participants stay in a remotely located house for a week; or the “Adventures” trip, which recently has taken enrollees to Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

Next time you’re feeling stuck – “Screw it; just do it!” Get together with other entrepreneurial adventurers and get away for some inspiration.

Where would you like to go to shake things up?

Brand School gives you a membership in a community where like-minded entrepreneurs, small business owners and non-profits come together to support one another and spur on innovation. Learn more about the benefits of Brand School and how our team of experts can help boost your business with a one-on-one Brand Health Check Strategy Session HERE.

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“Brand School helped me get the business’ name, brand promise and message clear… thank you… And thanks also for the networking opportunities which have led to big support in my emerging business.” - Nell Panero, Education Consultant

Build Your Business On Vacation

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A Business Building Vacation sounds like an oxymoron, right?

Wrong. You can actually take advantage of some “down time” to come back with fresh ideas that will help you re-energize your brand and your business and hit the ground running when you come back at work.

Summer vacations  are a great time to make note of new brands and exceptional customer service experiences that surprise and delight you. Pack a Brand Safari notebook (along with your sunscreen) when you go to the beach, Europe, mountain resort..wherever you are headed.

Write down specific elements of your summer experience (right after they happen so they are fresh) and think about how you can apply those lessons to your own brand.

You can build your business and work on your tan at the same time!

Build your business  with a brand that gets noticed! Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program, gives you the tools and techniques you need to keep your brand shining. Receive more information about Brand School’s next session and get free brand-building tools and tips when you join our mailing list.

 

“What an excellent experience. You have turned our business on its head! We are in the process of re-inventing our brand and company!” - Gavin Meiring, CEO, Rugged PC, South Africa

Draw Your Target In To Explore Your Brand

Branding is about the unique and personal experience your space creates for its visitors.   In this post, Draw Your Target In to Explore Your Brand, guest blogger Kathryn (KC) Ha shares that her love and passion for the MASS MoCA and gives ways you can be inspired to create unique experiences for your customers that sets your business apart. This is part of our “Brands That Twist” series celebrating innovative brands. See more of these brands HERE . For more about Kathryn (KC) Ha, check out her bio below.

As an art lover, I frequent art museums wherever I go. While spending four years at Williams College (Williamstown, MA), I was sure to go to every museum in the area. Most of my favorite visits were to MASS MoCA, a contemporary art museum located in a neighboring town, North Adams, MA. I even found myself working in their Kidspace gallery last summer.

What I love most about MASS MoCA is the unique and personal experience it creates for its visitors. The museum immediately captures your attention and draws you into both its art and space.

Three ways that MASS MoCA puts a Twist on the traditional museum experience are:

  • The physical space that houses MASS MoCA immediately captures your attention. The building has served as a textile factory and an electric plant. The radical change from electric factory to art museum gives way to the radical experience for visitors, more specifically children. They enter the building and are immediately drawn to the space and exploring it.
  • The Kidspace gallery literally asks visitors to create their own art, influenced by the artworks in the gallery. For example, last summer the gallery had artwork involving monsters and an “art challenge” that asked the kids to create their own monster from a box of random materials they were given
  • The seasonal outdoor exhibits, such as a sculpture of picnic tables, invite visitors to touch, climb and explore them.

The museum immediately creates an interactive experience with its visitors from the moment they arrive.

First impressions are always key in a relationship, especially when it comes to brands. MASS MoCA has conquered this task successfully.

Other brands can learn from them how to create a strong first impression through:

  • Visual tools, such as color, shape, and symbols, to signal a unique experience to the people- from the moment they enter your brand experience or land on you web page
  • Find ways to get people directly involved in your brand; perhaps through social media or even old-fashioned suggestion boxes.
  • The ability to surprise and delight your target by altering their point of view, such as using picnic tables as art (and not just traditional seating)

MASS MoCA has created a unique, unforgettable brand experience through its ability to invite visitors to want to learn more and spur curiosity from the moment they enter the parking lot. It is key for any brand to immediately captivate their target, to stand out from other brands, and create a deep connection with the public.

About the author:

Kathryn (KC) Ha is a recent graduate from Williams College (Williamstown, MA) where she majored in art history and achieved the NCAA All-American honor for swimming all four years. She is interested in a career in marketing/advertising. She will be traveling around Europe for July, but may be reached for job opportunities at kathryncha90@gmail.com

If you are interested in being a BrandTwist guest blogger, please email jamie@brandtwist.com for details. 

Learn how to spice up your brand’s experience. Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program, will give you tools to innovate your business and enrich your customer’s experience.  Receive more information about Brand School’s next session and get free brand-building tools and tips when you join our mailing list.

“Results came amazingly quick. Now, my brand name speaks my message immediately and I’ve expanded my reach.”  - Lynn Stull, Owner Arts2Thrive

Location, Location, Location

One of our recent Facebook posts featured the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto, Canada. Our attention was drawn to this independent hotel because of how they set themselves apart by embracing the uniqueness of their location. Their brand is dedicated to offering an immersive and authentic Toronto experience to guests. The Gladstone is a one-of-a-kind hotel with one-of-a-kind rooms, each designed by a different local artist. Every room is detailed on their website with a statement by the local artist.

CELEBRATING LOCAL WITH A TWIST

Then we discovered Provenance Hotels, a chain with five prominent hotels in the U.S. They create a savvy, branded experience that highlights the culture of the city in which each hotel is located. This allows guests to form personal connections with the local community, the featured art and the hotel staff. The picture above is from their Hotel Max, Seattle, WA. Each room’s door is a full black and white photograph of artists and musicians that have a history connecting them to Seattle. Even the “X” created by lighting projected on the wall speaks to the local culture.

Though these two brands are in the same business; by offering their own twist on celebrating their location, they each provide travelers a rare and enriching experience, which cannot be duplicated.

HERE ARE THE LESSONS YOUR BRAND CAN APPLY

Often small brands feel they have to act big to be taken seriously. But small can be an advantage. Don’t be afraid to be local. Celebrating where you come from can make you stand out and be noticed – and help people identify with what you are offering. Locals appreciate the recognition and visitors appreciate getting an authentic taste of a new place. Establishing a connection with the local community also adds to the credibility of your brand.

Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program, will give you the tools you need to develop your branding and use it to connect your market with your brand’s unique sense of place. Receive more information about the next semester and free brand-building tools and tips when you join our mailing list.

“Motivational! I’ve given recommendations to several clients about Brand School.” - Liz Osting, Founder Herculiz Design

This post is part of our Brands That Twist series celebrating innovative brands. Read about other breakthrough brands and more ways to grow your business and brand here

Grow your Business by Changing the Scenery

The Sanctuary at the Purple Crayon Center for Learning and Social Innovation, Westchester, NY

Most of us are creatures are habit. We’ve got a systematic way we go about our day: wake up, brew coffee, go to the office, meet with clients, work, strategize, home, dinner, TV bed. Repeat. Maybe we shake things up once in a while with a work out, dinner with friends, a movie or a show. But mostly we’re on auto-pilot always stopping at the same coffee shop, the same take out place even taking the same exact route to work each day. This kind of familiarity can be comforting – but it can also be the enemy of creativity.

Whether you’re happy with the work you do, or searching for a new creative outlet, it’s time to put some serious thought into your every day routine. I’m not telling you to move to a new apartment or completely overhaul the way you work. But shaking things up can give you big-time business breakthroughs. Seek out new environments. Even if it only means changing the layout of your office – moving your desk to another corner of the room, face the window instead of the door or vice versa. For even better results -get out of your office all together and spend a few hours every week working somewhere new. A coffee shop, shared worked space, even your local library.  When you are in this new environment take time to observe your surroundings: what interests and inspires you? What’s the lighting like, how does it feel to sit in a different chair, to look out a window at a different view? Routines can be ruts, don’t get stuck.

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 GET MOVING AND GET INSPIRED

The Purple Crayon Center in Westchester, NY is just the kind of inspiring location I am talking about. It’s an old church transformed into a center for learning and social innovation. Part shared work space and part event meeting space -it’s got beautiful vaulted ceilings, hard wood floors and amazing architectural details that will inspire you. And it’s a quick train ride from NYC along with Hudson River – and in walking distance from the train station.  I love it so much that from time-to-tme I hold workshops on branding there and participate in their business community outreach programs as well.  Keep a watch on their schedule, or sign up for the BrandTwist list for updates on all of our future events.  I can promise you will love the results and takeaways you’ll get.

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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