TWIST Your Elevator Pitch to Stand Out

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I finally established my full-time career coaching practice but my “elevator pitch” was far from stellar. There were dozens of other coaches saturating the landscape: life coaches, career coaches, purpose coaches, coaches for coaches… so how would I stand out? It was time to hone my elevator pitch, add a TWIST that would distinguish me from other coaches and be more compelling. When faced with skepticism or confused stares, how could I succinctly explain to people what I did for a living, and powerfully demonstrate my value in a less-than-two minute pitch?

And then, I happened to notice a TV commercial for a local gym. Actually, it hit me like a ton of bricks (or maybe a dumbbell): I’m like a fitness trainer, but for your job search and career development. What would it look like if I TWISTED my career coaching business with a gym instructor?

  • A fitness trainer guides you but you do the heavy lifting. I provide the guidance and outline the career roadmap, but my clients have to take the action themselves to achieve their professional goals.
  • A fitness trainer helps you to be fitter and more attractive. I help my clients polish their professional skills and appear more attractive to current bosses and prospective employers alike.
  • A fitness trainer boosts your confidence. I empower my clients to impress their colleagues at the next big meeting, or crush that important company-wide presentation, or ace their next job interview.
  • A fitness trainer helps you increase your speed and agility. I help my clients achieve their professional goals more efficiently, with less time spent on excuses and more time spent on action; I provide critical support and guidance to accelerate career progress and overcome past hurdles.
  • A fitness trainer is a waste of money if you’re not ready to hustle. I only work with clients who want to improve on their weaknesses and are willing to put in the work on a regular basis. Whether they want to level-up in their current company or switch careers entirely, the path to success often requires weeks or months of effort. It doesn’t happen overnight.

So, much like a fitness instructor, I provide a strategic mix of support and heavy-duty accountability, with a kick in the rear when it’s needed most. Now my elevator pitch has the TWIST to help my business get remembered, “Take a gym instructor and TWIST it with business goals and you have a career coach.”

About the author:

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David Wiacek is a NY-based, globally-minded career coach and copywriter. He helps squash his clients’ fears and brings back wonder into their professional lives. He also crafts catchy copy for businesses—both in print and online. Check out his work at davidthefixer.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.

Jewelry with an Alarming TWIST

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Yasmine Mustafa followed her dream to take a solo, six-month trek across South America. Throughout her journey she heard story after story from women about their being attacked, feeling vulnerable, inhibited and afraid. When an attack took place in her own apartment building, her vision to empower women to “Live your life boldly and without fear” was born.

Take Tiffany & Co., TWIST it with ADT Security Systems and you get Athena, a wearable piece of tech jewelry designed to prevent assault by ROAR for Good.

Athena is a simple device that looks like a jewelry accessory. It’s about the size of a half-dollar, wearable as a necklace or clipped onto clothing or a handbag. It’s mission: to protect women with the touch of a button. When you press the button a loud alarm is sounded and text messages are sent to friends & family with your current GPS location. There is also a SilentROAR™ feature which sends text alerts without activating the alarm.

Dedicated to ending assault, ROAR For Good takes their mission a step further. For each device sold, a portion of proceeds is invested in educational programs that have been shown to increase empathy and reduce violence, and ten percent of proceeds from their crowdfunding campaign goes towards raising awareness about the warning signs of abuse and helping end relationship violence.

ROAR For Good’s CEO & Co-Founder Mustafa saw a need, and TWISTED to create a brand and a product line that delivers what women are truly seeking, empowerment and safety.

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Finding the right TWIST can help your brand take charge. 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.

The THINX Revolutionary Twist on Women’s Underwear

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Miki Agrawal not only wants to change how the world thinks about women’s periods, but she wants to liberate women from the constraints of that “time of month”– and she’s doing it one panty at a time.

Ms. Agrawal is CEO and co-founder of THINX, women’s underwear that also doubles as feminine pads.

THINX panties took the practical need for protection (Stayfree pads) and TWISTED it with the sensual way every woman loves to feel (Victoria’s Secret) and created THINX – stylish, comfortable underwear that offers an added layer of protection so women can do more, worry less and feel better about themselves.

One simple TWIST can make a big impact. For every panty sold, one is donated to a women in developing countries to help her live a more productive life without the stigma and encumbrance of lack of supplies.

And by taking something that is a universal need but has traditionally been taboo and addressing it in the open, THINX has become more than a practical product – they symbolize female empowerment and freedom.

What are your customers thinking about – but no one is addressing head on? Let them know you understand and want to help. Your customers will show their appreciationby becoming strong brand advocates.

Brand School is the premier program specifically designed for entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them build their brands.  See how Brand School Faculty can help you realize your business’ potential HERE.

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“Working with Brand School … opens up so many doors and affects so many areas of  your business – an invaluable experience.” - Sarah Hinawi, Executive Director, The Purple Crayon Center for Learning and Innovation

How Not to Dress for Success

This post, How Not to Dress for Success, is another in our series providing insight and action steps for those seeking a career in branding. Julie Cottineau gives her top tips and shares insights from her 25+ years at great companies such as Grey, Interbrand and Virgin. You can read more entries in this Career series HERE

It may be summer, but this is still a job. Even if you see senior partners dressing in casual clothes – remember they’ve already gotten the job. If you are an intern or junior employee,  you are still auditioning. The casual air in a creative environment like an agency can be misleading, but if you have any doubt whatsoever, err on the more professional side.

This means:

No flip flops (for men or women) ever- save them for the beach!

No midriff baring.

Gals: No super micro-mini skirts or hotpants.

Guys: Depending on your company, you may not need to wear a jacket or tie – but no shorts or scruffy t-shirts, and no pants hanging so low they’re falling off.

Pay attention to how the men and women in the office are dressing when they go to see clients.

When in doubt: ask!

Dress for the job you want, not for the job you have. This doesn’t mean you need to spend a lot of money, but it doesn’t mean you need to look frumpy either. Just be clean, neat and professional.  Don’t go for the the Devil Wears Prada Anne Hathaway before look.

If you are in the branding business, you do need to pay a little attention to your own brand. This is a great time to start cultivating your unique personal style, and style can be expressed in many ways.

If you do want to show some personality through your clothing, accessorize. This can be statement jewelry, cool bags, belts, shoes, hats, scarfs or ties; all applicable for both men and women.

Perhaps there is a certain color, pattern or cool style of specs that you are passionate about. Don’t be afraid to wear them continually and start to develop a signature look. As long as it’s genuinely connected to who you are – don’t play dress up.

One place where shorts are totally appropriate—the company softball team. Joining in is a great way to show your unique personality, demonstrate that you are team player and get to know your future colleagues and bosses.

When I was at Virgin we had a great college intern who came to every game. He wasn’t the best batter or fielder but he had such a great attitude. He was always cheering his teammates on and offering to buy the first round at the pub after the game. This definitely made a positive and memorable impression, gave us great insight into his personality and showed that he was someone who could fit in with the corporate culture.

Have you observed a fashion faux pas in the office? We’d love to hear about your own experience… maybe it was your own internship or a story from one of your friends.

Also, if you are looking to boost your resume, why not become a guest blogger for BrandTwist? Reach out to jamie@brandtwist.com with your blog idea or any questions about guest blogging.

Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program, will give you the insight and tools you need to express your personal brand for greater recognition in your career field. Receive more information about Brand School’s next session and get free brand-building tools and tips when you join our mailing list.

Please also connect with us out on Twitter and Facebook for more insight and discussion on branding.

“I highly recommend tis class to anybody; it will put your business on a different level.” - Dr. Marina Kostina, Distance Learning Specialist, CEO of  wired@heart

Branding Lessons from Beyonce

It takes more than a catchy logo, flashy colors and a little bit of “shake your hips” and “show some leg” to create a trusted, consistent brand, and no one knows that better then Beyoncé. The whirlwind of negative press that circulated about how she had lip-synched the National Anthem during President Obama’s Inauguration could have tainted her gleaming reputation, but it didn’t. Why not? She could have ignored the matter or she could have admitted an error in judgment and apologized. She did neither. What she did do was communicate. She expressed what she did, why she did it, and remained rock-solid true to her brand.

Beyoncé admitted to singing with a recording, and in doing so continued to deliver what her fans expect most from her: quality, emotional connection, passion and some real “Sasha Fierce” (her brand avatar) attitude, which further endeared the market to her.

Businesses of every kind encounter errors and mistakes. The challenge lies in finding ways to rise above those bumps in the road. How can your business and brand benefit from looking at the way Beyoncé handled her lip-synch snafu?

Let’s look at how she succeeded in preserving trust and actually strengthening her brand:

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IF YOU LIKE IT, THEN YOU BETTER TAKE THE REINS ON IT

Shortly after the Inauguration, at a press conference about her upcoming Super Bowl Half Time Show concert, Beyoncé took the reins. Before reporters had a chance to toss her a question, she belted out a powerful acapella rendition of “The National Anthem” followed with, “Any questions?” and a laugh. Not only did she take control and write her own ending to the lip-synch buzz, but she even over-delivered by giving everyone what they wanted to see and hear in true “Sasha Fierce” brand style all the way. 

SHOW YOUR HUMAN SIDE

She went on to share her humanness and vulnerability. She expressed that she is a perfectionist, was uncomfortable performing live without a sound check, and did not want to let everyone down with a less-than-perfect moment. She then reinforced her dedication to continue delivering what her fan following expects by stating she would not disappoint in the upcoming Super Bowl Half Time Show.

KEY TAKE-AWAY? BE PREEMPTIVE AND WRITE YOUR OWN ENDING

Your business can rise above bumps in the road. How? Identify the problem quickly. Address your market with conviction in a way that’s in line with your voice, image, and customer expectation. Over-deliver by providing discounts or free downloads, etc. Tell your story, share challenges and re-commit. Give your market the opportunity to better understand who you are. Then reinforce what your brand stands for by communicating positive intentions. You too will create a positive ending to a challenging situation.

AT BRAND SCHOOL WE SHOW YOU HOW TO ROCK YOUR BRAND

Understanding your customers’ needs, being able to exceed their expectations and effectively communicate your ideas is critical to maintaining strong brand loyalty. Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program, gives you the tools you need to develop your branding and use it to make your business sing. We give you hands-on exercises, exclusive online videos, and the opportunity to connect with a supportive community of fellow brand-building entrepreneurs.

“The value I received from my investment was incredible and I have no doubt that it will continue to pay dividends to me.”  - Lynn Stull, Owner Arts2Thrive

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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Add a Fresh Twist

This post is part of our series, “Thirteen Tips For Stronger Branding.” See the rest of the series HERE.

 TIP #12: INNOVATE NEW BRAND IDEAS BY ADDING A FRESH TWIST

Fresh ideas come from looking at old problems from new perspectives. If you are only looking at and thinking about what your competition is doing, chances are you will stay in the same rut and not come up with anything new or exciting. You need to look at old challenges from new angles.

A few years back I was at an airport and saw a 747 with McDonald’s golden arches on the tail fin. I started to imagine what this McDonald’s airline would be like. I imagined it would be a good value, family friendly and most importantly it would have flexible options in terms of how I bought my ticket and any upgrades – allowing me to supersize my experience to a seat with more leg room or special menu options. As it turns out, this airline was just a figment of my imagination. It was the reflection of the neon sign in the food court on the window, and there happened to be a plane parked behind the window on the tarmac. So while it was just imaginary, it led to the very real practice of TWISTING brands in different categories to come up with new ideas. (That’s actually why I named my company BrandTwist.)

Consumers don’t live in a one-category world. For example, they make note of great customer service experiences across airlines, retail stores, dry cleaners, fast food, fine dining, taxi cabs, doctor’s offices, personal trainers…you name it. So as marketers we should constantly be looking at the larger brandscape for inspiration. A great way to leverage lateral thinking for your own brand is to imagine what a beloved brand (in a different category) would do if it took over your business. How would this brand use its brand DNA to innovate in your market?  Twist an inspirational brand (ex. Virgin, Zappos, Starbucks, Apple) with yours and see the impact it can have in creating fresh ideas for your business today.

Check out tip #13 in the series, Commit to Continual Learning.

BRAND SCHOOL CAN HELP YOU ADD THE TWIST YOU NEED

…After all, that’s what it’s designed to do.

Julie Cottineau, the former VP of Brand for Richard Branson’s Virgin, and entrepreneur and a branding expert responsible for countless small business and personal branding makeovers, has created Brand School, the highly effective, premier program to help you grow your business and perfect your brand at the same time.

Receive more information about the next semester and free brand-building tools and tips when you join the BrandTwist 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 

Want to Get Promoted? Try to Get Fired

Stuck in an innovation rut? Here’s a technique that will help get those creative juices flowing again.

Give yourself this task: “What idea could I come up with that would get me fired?”

I’m not talking about spreading company gossip on Facebook or throwing up all over the CEO at the office summer party.

I’m talking about creating an idea for your brand that seems so patently absurd that it could get you fired.

By thinking in this way, going to the extreme opposite of what’s expected, you actually free up your thinking and might just come up with a nugget of an idea that could be refined into something more plausible, maybe even brilliant and highly marketable.

Here’s an example Keep reading »

Use Your Brand to Say “No”

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What are the most difficult words to say? For some of you it might be the anxiety-producing 3 words “I Love You”…

But for most of us, especially entrepreneurs, it’s one simple word – “No”.

Why is this? Because we are open, passionate, like to please and love new possibility and opportunity.

But mastering “No” is one of the most important things we can do to grow our businesses.

I know this might sound like an oxymoron- turn down opportunity to grow- but it’s true.

And your Brand can be a powerful tool to help you know when to say “No” and of course, when to say “Yes”.

When you really understand what your brand is about you can use it to help filter which ideas are great (but not for you) and which Ideas are worth pursuing and investing in.

In fact, I believe you should use your brand to impact every single decision you make. Not just how you communicate, but also… Keep reading »  who you work with (and don’t), who you hire and fire, what products and services you develop, the partnerships you form, even how you dress and present your personal brand.

Entrepreneurs are constantly drawn to new opportunities because we are looking for ways to do things differently, better, etc. Which often means that we are attracted to every shiny new proposition or opportunity that comes our way. It’s what I call the Magpie effect:

“Oh look something glimmering over there, let’s swoop it up in our beaks”.

But beware, for most of us (even those working in big companies) resources and energy are a finite often limited quantity.

I had my own brand-led decision making experience just this past week.

Someone presented me with an opportunity to get involved in an exciting project with a really interesting brand challenge. A turn around of a behemoth telecomm technology brand that had great products but an out-dated brand idea and image.  It’s the kind of thing most brand consultants would jump at.

But I said  “thanks but no thanks”.

Why?

Because as Founder of a new company I am finding myself with a lot of opportunity, but a limited amount of time. So I am trying to stay true to the idea of BrandTwist and pursue opportunities to help entrepreneurs grow their brands and help large organizations think and act more entrepreneurial.

This opportunity, while it seemed great (shiny) on the surface was for a very large Agency and a very large Client  and while it may have paid the bills for a few months (or more) just instinctively felt like it would be a classic re-branding situation, that while I knew I could do it, didn’t feel like it hit the sweet spot of my brand.

I could have gone down the road of finding out more, convincing myself it was kinda of on brand for what I was trying to build, let myself been seduced by the money etc.

But I know from experience this investigation process would have taken a lot of time and energy that I can’t afford to waste.

So I said “No” quickly and decisively and it felt great.

And instead of spending the time over the next few weeks chasing an opportunity that wasn’t quite right, I’m going to put that time to building the areas of my practice I am most passionate about and where I feel I can truly shine.

Brand is your secret weapon. Use it to grow your business. Use it to say “Yes” to what moves you in the right direction and “No” to what gets you off track.

That’s my point of view. What’s your twist?

How do you use brand to say “No” (or “Yes”)?

Our online Brand School course will give you the insight and tools you need to keep your brand in the forefront as a strong, innovative secret weapon. Receive more information about the next semester and free tools and tips when you join our mailing list.

Please also check us out on Twitter and Facebook for more insight and discussion on branding.

I highly recommend tis class to anybody, to both those who have been in business for a long time, and those just starting out because it will put your business on a different level. - Dr. Marina Kostina, Distance Learning Specialist, CEO of wired@heart

A “Corporate” Loss that Feels Personal

I never met Steve Jobs. In fact, I unfortunately never even had the pleasure of hearing him speak live.

So why do I feel sad?

Though I’ve never met the man, I’ve experienced his vision directly and personally…right here at my kitchen table.

Today I spent a good part of the day test driving my new Air Book.

Intuitive, lightweight, with layers of discovery and delight. I couldn’t stop touching it.

I never met the man, but I feel as if he knew me. He knew what a computer should be. Could be. Not just what is should do.

Vision is great, but it only has real impact when you can experience it first hand in products or services that make a difference.

And Steve Jobs understood this. He was one of the few leaders in business that was meticulous about design – not out of some obsession or affectation. But because he knew that good design really does make a difference in people’s lives.

Thank you Steve. I hope the Apple brand is strong enough to honor your legacy by remaining true to this principle.

That’s my point of view. What’s your twist?

Did Steve Jobs and Apple mean something personal to you?

Brand School had great examples of real companies. I was able to dig even deeper, think of things in a new way, and get new ideas for my brand.It was well worth the fee. - Brenda C.