Transcend the Ordinary and Rise Above Your Competition

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 6.59.13 AMNow that we’ve got you planning your next Brand Safari it’s time to figure out what to look for. Over the next few weeks, we’ll talk about what we look for on our BrandTwist Brand Safari’s, kicking off with T – Transcend the Ordinary.

Today we’re going to talk about how brands like Coco-Mat and Microsoft transcend the ordinary with their customers by allowing customers to experience their brands in a way that’s different from anyone else.

Let’s start with talking about what it means to transcend the ordinary, I think it’s about looking for brands that go beyond what’s expected. Transcend ordinary experiences to provide something fresh. It’s about how your clients experience your brand. Coco-Mat and their flagship store is a great example of this.

Can buying a mattress be relaxing?

On a recent Safari, we visited the iconic Coco-Mat store in SoHo for some hands on inspiration that attendees then TWISTED with their own businesses. Coco-Mat has shaken up the mattress category on every level by providing mattresses that are customizable by layer and made with all natural materials- like coconut fiber (hence the name). No metal springs are used. That’s not even the best TWIST though.

Cocomat Brand Safari BrandTwist Brand Experience

They also have TWISTED the sales experience and transcended the sometimes stereotypical pushy mattress seller to a more thoughtful and zen experience. Their sleep specialists invite you to spend a few hours or even the night in a special “nap suite” in their SoHo store. They will make up the bed with the exact mattress you are thinking of purchasing. So you are sure that it’s the right fit. There’s a bathroom with shower in the suite and calming scents and decor.

It’s shifting an experience that can be stressful and frustrating and instead allowing you to experience the ease of their company at every step. It’s a completely unique experience that turns category norms on their heads. How can you relieve any friction in your buying experience for your customers- and make the process of engaging with your business as smooth and “dreamy” as possible?

How does Microsoft transcend the ordinary?

The idea of letting potential customers experience your brand instead of selling them on the idea is something Microsoft has done well with their flagship store in New York. Which is exactly why we’ll be hosting a Brand Safari in the NYC Experience Store there in September.

Microsoft experience stores give potential customers the opportunity to interact with the products. This helps them fall in love through learning more about the features. This is evident in the innovative Youth Spark coding camps.

These camps not only serve the community (another way to transcend) but it also gives consumers the opportunity to engage with the product, and fall in love with a product.

How can you transcend the ordinary?

Now it’s time for action, look for brands that turn the category norms on their heads. Remember, the best brands to TWIST with are outside of your category so get creative. Think about brands you love or have experienced that provide the opposite of what you expect (ex. a zen mattress buying experience instead of a stressful one).

Then TWIST this with your business. How can you tackle head on and rise above the common pain points in your category to provide a fresh, memorable and compelling brand experience?

Don’t forget to stay tuned, we’ll be talking about Walking the talk when we return with our next post.

Can’t wait to experience the TWIST for yourself? Grab one of our limited Safari spots for September here.

BrandTwist September Brand Safari

Get Out From Behind Your Desk – Go Experience Brands

Are you experiencing the world through your computer or phone screen?  As a small business owner or entrepreneur, you need to hit the streets, experience the brandscape through the eyes of your customers – to truly know how to meet their needs and offer something of value that will break through the competitive clutter and get noticed.

This is why BrandTwist Safaris are so valuable because they take us out of our every day and put us in the center of experiences where we learn important lessons about branding which are then applied directly through Interactive, hands-on exercises to TWIST that inspiration and create actionable innovative brand ideas for new products or services.

BrandTwist Safaris have been applied successfully for companies like Virgin and Spotify in iconic neighborhoods including Times Square, SoHo and Rockefeller Center. The good news is they can happen anywhere.

Microsoft Experience BrandTwist Brand Safari Experience

Can you build your brand by hanging out in a lego store?

Big brands, like Microsoft, are building flagship stores all over the world to change how their customers engage with their brand. Allowing customers to experience a brand by touching and feeling, or even playing with the brand.

For the next 5 weeks, we’re going to talk about how you can go on your own Brand Safari, and what to look for. Even better, this series is leading up to a Brand Safari in NYC at the Flagship Microsoft Experience Store – that 30 lucky applicants will be able to attend.

You don’t need to be in Manhattan to do a BrandTwist Safari, you don’t even need to be in a large city. The most important thing is to pick locations/experiences to visit that are 1) away from your category – to maximize the freshness of the ideas and 2) are locations that connect deeply with their targets. Don’t forget, the value is about getting out of your everyday and away from your own business.

If you are not sure where you would go on a BrandTwist Safari ask yourself these question:

  1. What are the brand experiences that really engage people?
  2. What’s hot and why?
  3. What’s a best-kept local secret?
  4. Where do all the teens love to go?
  5. Where do the tourists go in your town or city?
  6. Where does the customer service rock?

No matter where you go, the trick to getting the most out of your Brand Safari is to observe and record what is going on around you – bring a notebook or a clipboard with paper, take photographs, buy something from the store or location and see what the purchase experience is like and the packaging. Do they give you your purchase in a plain paper or plastic bag – or does the brand use the packaging as a walking billboard – like the Build-a-Bear Cardboard bear homes?

Dig into the details, that’s where the best insights are and write everything down. You never know what could inspire your own TWIST later.

Stay tuned for our next post, we’re going to dig in on some specific details around where to go and how to TWIST those valuable insights with your own business.

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Small Business Brand TWISTS – Dr. Tim Aquatics

Dr. Tim runs an aquarium supply company and has an impressive list of professional credentials including a Ph.D. in ecology, evolution and marine biology. Before Brand School, the “about me” section of his website was a laundry list of academic degrees, published articles, industry titles and honors, but it practically required a Ph.D. to read and understand it.

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The problem?

His ideal target included regular “Joe” aquarium enthusiasts who are looking for support in keeping their aquariums healthy and vibrant. Through the work Tim did in Brand School, he transitioned his brand idea from “science-based solutions” to “success at any level.” He now deliberately presents a less intimidating, more welcoming user experience (complete with an interactive recipe TWIST – think of your favorite Food Network show) where buyers feel more at ease to interact with the brand and ask more questions.

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Do you see the difference this personal and authentic TWIST adds?

 

It makes his brand more approachable, more relatable, and more likely to attract the amateur aquarium enthusiast who might be turned off by a brand that seems too scientific and overly authoritative.

“Before Brand School, we were more a ‘science’ brand but now the brand is about being a natural fish care company.  That was common with dogs and cats but we were the first with fish. The products, liquids, and fish food are natural and that resonates with consumers who see fish and an aquarium as a slice of nature in their home.”

That wasn’t the only way Tim used the TWIST lessons he learned in Brand School. They also used a TWIST to overcome objections when launching a new product.

 

“We had developed the first 100% natural, non-GMO fish food but a possible roadblock was the customer had to make it themselves which takes only 5 minutes to make a month’s worth of food.  So we twisted that possible negative – “Oh, I have to make the fish food” into a positive “ Really, I can make my own fish food”  by adding our EXTRAS which are various additions (think of them as spices) that one adds to food to customize it for their fish.”

“The EXTRAS come in pepper grinders so the consumer literally ‘twists’ the EXTRAS into the food before placing the food in the freezer to gel. This makes the food easy to demonstrate and you see the smile on people’s faces as they instantly see this is fun and not hard at all.  We even had a major store in NJ have their clerks dress up as cooks and demo the fish food – it’s a great YouTube video”.

Tim now has a powerful understanding of how to use TWISTS in his brand, but it he admits it wasn’t always easy.

 

“Initially it was hard to maintain focus and concentrate on running everything through the pillars but, as with most things, the more you do it the easier it gets and, this is the surprise, it actually makes it easier to make decisions. It if doesn’t fit – it’s out.”

“You have to trust the process. It was such a great experience for me. Though, after delving in, doing the work is hard. There is resistance, but having access to Julie with the one-on-one meetings helped to move the needle so we can continue in breaking through with a more creative flair to our brand. I’m so grateful I went through it.”

What’s My TWIST? Unexpected experts can help your brand.

Far too often, brands get stuck sounding, looking, and feeling the same way to consumers as any other competitor in their field. These brands aren’t standing out from the bunch; they’re merely doing just enough to fit in and survive. The most successful brands owe that success to the fact that they’re different. It’s why you gravitate to Apple before Dell, and why you can’t forget GEICO’s gecko. To stand out you need to get some outside perspective and a little inspiration.

What's My Twist Panel - Unique experts give feedback

The “What’s my TWIST Panel” technique does just that.

The “inspired experts” panel uncovers fresh language by taking experts in related but distinctly different fields and asks questions to extract fresh language that can be TWISTED with your own brand.

For example, recently we helped a pharmaceutical client with an over-the-counter medication focused on protection, by bringing in four unusual experts:

  • A former fireman
  • A bouncer
  • A computer security consultant
  • And an insurance agent

The essential element of this panel was that the client had no idea what fields the experts were in. Similar to the classic “What’s My Line?” game show – the occupations of the panelists were guessed and revealed at the very end. This kept the pharmaceutical executives focused on active listening for fresh language that they could then TWIST to add distinction to their marketing.

The panel was asked questions such as:

  • “What does protection mean in your field?”
  • “What happens when there is a failure of protection?”
  • “What are the emotions involved? The consequences?”
  • “How do you act to prevent future breakdowns?”

The results? Fresh perspectives on providing control, comfort, and confidence to consumers in the most vulnerable situations – that can be TWISTED into marketing that breaks through.

What experts would you invite to your What’s My TWIST? panel and what related, but distinct categories should your brand be learning from? Learn about more TWISTING techniques in TWIST: How Fresh Perspectives Build Breakthrough Brands.

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A TWIST On Graduation Gifts

It’s graduation season! That means that some will be sending off their children to college, some will be going to college, and the rest of us will just be watching. Either way, we all know someone who is taking that next big step to becoming an adult. Now more than ever it’s important to set them up for success on this path because they are the future. Invest in the future today with these graduation gift ideas sure to add a TWIST to the lives of this upcoming freshman class!

Avoid the Freshman 15

Graduation Gift Ideas - Flavor Fusion WaerIt is a reality that plagues thousands nationwide annually, and I mean it is just that, a reality. Statistics, as well as testimonials from suffering college freshman, have shown that the stress induced by their first year in college leads to students packing on pounds, fifteen on average. Though fifteen pounds does sound quite drastic, it is a very real figure and one that every freshman should try to avoid. To help them in doing so, gift them the Flavor Fusion Water Bottle, a water bottle that infuses fruits and vegetables into your water; granting it the sweetness of juice, but neglecting the harmful sugars found in juices known to lead to fat gain. This bottle is sure to help lead a healthier lifestyle and certainly puts a twist on the traditional water bottle!

Get it here.

 Change the way you charge

Graduation Gift Idea - iPhone Charge PackThese days it seems like no one can put down their cell phones, and though our freshman will experience a change of scenery, this likely will not change. Some see this as a problem, others take no issue with it, but if you truly want your college freshman to love their gift, enable this problem. This can be done with the Mophie Juice Pack Air for the iPhone. This chargeable case comes with many features, and at its peak, it can provide you with 27 hours of battery life, so on the go, whether it be an internship or a boring lecture, you’re good to go. Not only that, it also serves its function as a case well, providing level two high impact protection for your iPhone.

Get it here.

Running shoes with a TWIST!

Grad gift ideas - adidas Running shoesCollege students tend to care about two things, style, and comfort. The Adidas Ultra Boost fulfills this, but is also a world-class performance shoe, and can work for any student who needs to go for a run to alleviate college stress. The patented boost technology is said to be the most comfortable option on the market, and the elegant look of the show turns fashionista heads everywhere.

 Get them here

Marketing 101

TWIST Book Cover - graduation gift ideasOf the upcoming freshman class, there are thousands of entrepreneurs, future C.E.O’s, and aspiring businessmen and women who will have to truly master the craft to ensure success in the future. This means an understanding at all levels, not solely focusing on one aspect like management, but also knowing a bit about marketing as well. After all, effective marketing is why you have an iPhone, or why you gravitate towards the Mac computer before a Dell, it’s not merely a matter of preference. Sure your freshman’s marketing courses will show them a lot, but it’s traditional, outdated, and just like any marketing course anywhere else. None of it will stand out. If you truly want success for them, get them this book.

Get it here.

Take a little study break

Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 9.49.30 AMOftentimes studying can be a bore. Ok, I lied, studying is a bore. It’s something we only do because we have to. However, it can be fun, and over at ThinkGeek they’ve found a way to do just that. With these table tennis notebooks, not only can you store all of your notes, but you can also turn study breaks into ping pong tournaments. This set provides everything but a cool study partner to play with, so go ahead, add a TWIST to your next study session!

Get it here.

About the Author:

BrandTwist Intern - Graduation Guest PostEnrique Garcia is working as an intern at BrandTwist for this month. He is a high school senior from Dobbs Ferry, New York and will be graduating in June. In the fall Enrique will be attending the business school at Manhattan College, concentrating in both finance and marketing. 

Interested in guest blogging for BrandTwist? Contact jamie@brandtwist.com.

Small Business TWISTS – Rey Insurance Agency

Brand School Alumni, Linda Rey, has a family-owned insurance agency that celebrates its roots in the community. This includes a unique TWIST of sending out email advisories during bad weather with very localized updates on specific road closings and streets to avoid. This is something the larger companies could never do. And Linda’s customers are grateful. It’s one thing for an insurance agency to talk about its auto insurance policies, it’s another for it to actually keep you safe on the road.

Before Brand School it had been about 15 years since Rey Insurance had updated the brand. And as Linda put it, “we never really went through the process of what a business does for branding purposes. We didn’t have a strategy for how we wanted to look. Brand School afforded us the opportunity to explore how that might work for us without breaking the bank!”

Rey Insurance - Before and After Branding

One lesson from Brand School that helped Linda was to think about storytelling. Approaching their brand with that objective allowed them to be more human and step away from “textbook language about insurance”. Linda shares one of the ways they’ve implemented the TWIST, “BEING FUN in our DESIGN by presenting ideas and concepts about insurance that bring attention to considering the possibility vs. avoiding the consequences.”

Rey Insurance New Website Logo Update Rebrand

Linda transitioned her brand from a traditional family-owned insurance promise to a more modern “We help you GET insurance” brand idea. When she did this, she realized that her red and blue logo developed in 2000 blended in too much with her competitors and undermined her company’s TWIST of approachability.

She kept the core element of the shape but updated it with vibrant colors, which were inspired by her favorite organic grocer. When she walked into this grocery store, the fruits and vegetables were so inviting and colorful that she wanted to pick them up and put them in her basket. She loved the new logo so much she added bright throw pillows that adorn the reception area of the agency. This splash of color is distinctive for her category and really underscores her brand’s intention to be friendlier, more welcoming and more down-to-earth than traditional insurance agencies.

Before an After Rey Brand Logos

Investing the time in finding the TWIST and following that up with action, made a big impact on Rey Insurance. The key there is doing the work. It can feel overwhelming to implement, but that’s where the support of Brand School can really help. Linda says it best, “(Brand School) was such a great experience for me. Though, after delving in, doing the work is hard. There is resistance, but having access to Julie with the one-on-one meetings helped to move the needle so we can continue in breaking through with a more creative flair to our brand. I’m so grateful I went through it.”

Brand School by Brand Twist  Branding Course for your Small Business

Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program, delivers the tools and steps you need to strengthen your brand and your business’ connection to your market. Get our free brand-building tips and receive immediate updates about Brand School’s exclusive programs when you sign up for our newsletter at BrandSchoolOnline.com.

How to Twist Outside the Box This Father’s Day

Everyone understands the annual struggle of finding the perfect gift for dad on Father’s day. No matter what kind of person your dad is, finding a gift that’s thoughtful and that he might actually use is always tricky. It’s easy to find yourself slipping into the traditional last minute habit of buying him yet another tie, but this year, try stepping up your Father’s Day gift game by taking a generic gift idea and adding a TWIST that is sure to secure your spot as the favorite child.

father watch

For the runner: 2015-2016 has certainly been the year for workout technology. New gadgets promising a better workout have flooded the market, but what makes one fancy pedometer better than another? A good twist to give your father is the Garmin Forerunner 620 GPS Running Watch. The twist for this watch is that it, unlike some of the big name fitness monitors, is built specifically for runners and not only records your progress every run, but gives you advice on what more you are capable of doing in the future to help you continue to improve.

 

father drill

For the handy-man: A crafty guy who loves DIY projects needs way more than just your basic hammer and nails to really be able to build something special. But a complete tool box can be very expensive. A great twist on this classic gift for a do-it-yourself dad would be the Dremel Oscillating Tool Kit. This single tool has over 30 different functions your father can try out on his next project without taking up too much space.

 

father foodie

For the foodie: Instead of getting your food-loving dad some more pots and pans, spend a Saturday with him at the Smorgasburg Food Festival in Brooklyn! The vendors at this outdoor festival specialize in twisting classic foods into new, unique creations such as the ramen burger (which features ramen noodles as the buns for a classic burger) or a hotdog from Asia dog (a hot dog with asian inspired toppings such as Japanese curry or asian sesame slaw.) All of these vendors twisting their food will be sure to wow and inspire your father, plus he will get to spend the day with you!

 

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 3.40.42 PMFor the outdoorsman: For activities like camping, conserving space and versatility are key functions when deciding what to bring on the trail. Rather than just getting your dad some more fishing line, try the Alex water bottle. The twist for this bottle is that it, literally, twists open and turns into a bowl that you can eat out. The bottle opening also helps make cleaning it easy. This gift is something your father can bring along and use anywhere without weighing down his backpack.

 

Twist angle white

For the entrepreneur: If your father has his own business, help give his brand a boost this father’s day by giving him TWIST: How Fresh Perspectives Build Breakthrough Brands, The book is sure to help your dad learn the in’s and out’s of twisting himself and gain tools to make his personal brand even better. He’ll learn how to take off his “brand blinders” and look outside his category to make his business stand out and thrive in this competitive market, which will certainly help make this father’s day memorable for him.

 

About the Author:

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Kate Gouran is working as an intern at BrandTwist for this month. She is a high school senior from Hastings-on-Hudson and will be graduating from Hastings high school in June. She is very excited to be attending Tulane University in the fall and she plans on double majoring in marketing and musical theater.

 

 

Interested in guest blogging for BrandTwist? Contact jamie@brandtwist.com.

Just Twist Now – Quick Twist Video #6

 

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Julie Cottineau, BrandTwist and Brand School founder, and author of TWIST, shares the important lessons she learned as the VP of Brand for Virgin and the value of Richard Branson’s “Let’s do it!” approach.

More Quick Twist Video tips here.

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TWIST: How Fresh Perspectives Build Breakthrough Brands by Brand School founder Julie Cottineau.

“This book is a gift to small business owners, packed with information and strategies for potent branding, and full of obvious experience, wisdom and from-the-ground knowledge.” - Sarah Hinawi, executive director, Purpl Center for Learning and Social Innovation

Live Your Twist – Quick Twist Video #5

 

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Create fresh ideas for your business by TWISTING your brand with a successful out-of-category brand. Julie Cottineau, BrandTwist and Brand School founder, author of TWIST and former VP of Brand at Virgin shares her proven approach for creating inspired and actionable ideas.

More Quick Twist Video tips here.

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TWIST: How Fresh Perspectives Build Breakthrough Brands by Brand School founder Julie Cottineau.

“This bold book encourages entrepreneurs and brand owners across all types of businesses to think outside the limits of their category and take risks, and gives them the tools to make them stand out from their competitors.” - Laura Winston, attorney, Kim Winston LLP

 

The Virgin Twist – Quick Twist Video #4

 

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How did Richard Branson create loyal brand fans for his Virgin Airlines? Imagine a disco with wings. Julie Cottineau, BrandTwist and Brand School founder, author of TWIST and former VP of Brand at Virgin, highlights the importance of lateral thinking.

More Quick Twist Video tips here.

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TWIST: How Fresh Perspectives Build Breakthrough Brands by Brand School founder Julie Cottineau.

“Julie’s rich experience as the vice president of brand for Virgin has been brought to life in TWIST – a wakeup call and a road map for building brands that break through and get noticed.” - Raul Leal, CEO Virgin Hotels