Twist Book Testimonials

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“TWIST: How Fresh Perspectives Build Breakthrough Brands”

Available on Amazon.

I am truly blessed to have finally realized my childhood dream of writing a book!. A huge thanks to all the friends, family, Brand School students and faculty for their inspiration and helping me me get this far. To all who generously share their well-wishes and support, your endorsement means so much and I am full of gratitude and appreciation.  Thank you!

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“Every brand should be doing the TWIST.” – Raul Leal, ECO of Virgin Hotels

“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, Prupl Center of Learning and Social Innovaiton

“This 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

“Julie’s rich experiences 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

“Just pre-ordered what I expect to be an excellent book on the art of branding from BrandTwist’s Julie Cottineau. I’m not a huge reader of business books, but not only is Julie knowledgeable and passionate about the power of brand and how to build one, she’s also an entertaining speaker and I’m sure her voice will pop off the page.” – Matthew Rosenberg, Chief Marketing Officer at ChoiceStream

Read more reviews on Amazon.

Event and Presentation Testimonials

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

To view testimonials for Brand School, please click HERE.

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

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

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

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

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

“I would absolutely recommend this speaker.” 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can view a replay of the broadcast HERE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

@JCottin very interesting. Thanks!”

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

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

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

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

“Creative, practical ideas to explore branding”

“Superb!  Well worth attending.”

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

“Loved the interactive session!”

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

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

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

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

“I really enjoyed the session.” – Carolyn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can view a replay of the broadcast  HERE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brand School Testimonials

Thank you to all the generous and creative entrepreneurs, business owners,  solopreneurs and Brand School attendees. You continuously inspire me. Your recommendations and testimonials are very much appreciated. – Julie   

To view testimonials for other live events, workshops and presentations, please click HERE.

 Testimonials:

Screen Shot 2016-09-19 at 11.58.12 AM“Check this out. I had the opportunity to attend this class and my business is thriving as never before!” – Joan Bigg, Joan Big Design

“With 1600 members and 50+ events behind us, time to take it up a notch: we’re going to #Brand #School with @JCottin!” – Stamford Tech Meetup, @StamTech

“Hitting a stride with @JCottin’s course at @StamfordiCenter…” – Max von Stein, @driveSKIPS

“BrandTwist’s Julie Cottineau was instrumental in our rebranding strategy! Couldn’t be happier with her fresh ideas!” – Linda Rey, Rey Insurance

“Julie’s target definition, pillars, promise, and of course her “twist”…not only helped me truly define my platform, but she pulled out of me the exact and perfect words to describe what I do. She did in 12 weeks what I spent years trying to figure out. Julie is truly the Master.” - Sara Sherman CEO & Founder SingleMomsAskSara.com

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

“I am a proud graduate of Brand School! I thought I knew about branding before but this course took it to another level. I loved it!” – McKenna Ripley, Graphic Designer

“A Brand Health Check is the first step toward obtaining a healthy, strong brand that does all the hard work for you. If your brand doesn’t have a strong pulse, Julie will get you to healthy in no time!” - Sara Sherman, CEO & Founder SingleMomsAskSara.com

“Brand School turned out to be like the Mastercard commercial, priceless.The one-on-one sessions really allowed me to go deep into what my practice was about and how to implement it” – Sandeep Manchanda, Giraffe Partners Program Management

“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

“What I like a bout Julie’s approach to branding is that its so understandable to somebody who is not in the industry.” – Valerie Thompson, Founder Cushie B, LLC

“Brand School was a very good investment in my business. The biggest impact that Brand School has given me is to help me in my messaging for my business.The individualized time with Julie helped me to push myself harder” - Carolyn Browning, Chief Solutions Strategist, MEETing Needs LLC

“Brand School showed me what fun it is to actually work on my business.” – Jean Carucci, Carucci Consultants

“I’ve been able to take a look at the professionalism I offer and have been able to raise my prices to a level of which I didn’t have before.” – Ned Towle, Founderer Westchester Wine School

“I have had the good fortune of connecting with Julie Cottineau, of BrandTwist, while in the process of refining my business strategy…” - This is from a guest blog post written by Lynn Stull, Founder of Arts2Thrive.com. See the rest of the post HERE.

“I got so much out of Brand School. My business has grown leaps and bounds, and I feel like I have much more solid branding and language around what I do. :) So thank you!!” – Nathalie Lussier, natalielessier.com

“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

“I was all over the place when I started the course. Brand School really helped me focus. I came out of it with a foundation for my brand that I know will work. Without Brand School, it never would have happened.” – Nicole Lesser, Entrepreneur

“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

“Brand School totally exceeded my expectations! The videos combined with the exercises and personal feedback really made each session meaningful… It’s changed the way that I look at every interaction I have with the organizations that I deal with on a daily basis.” - Liz Osting, Herculiz Design

“I learned an immense amount from Julie’s class. It was wonderful to receive lessons from an experienced teacher that directly applied to my business.” – Liz Osting, Founder Herculiz Design

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

“The Brand School program gave in-depth actionable tools for real business and cultural development and product innovation… far exceeding all expectation.” – Jamie Freitas, Graphic Design and Social Media Marketing

“I was very impressed by the content and presentation of the Brand School course… it was clear, colorful, full of examples and learning helps… insights and fascinating takes on branding. The feedback was supportive, illuminating and helpful.” - Ned Towle, Director Westchester Wine School

“Brand School helped us tremendously.  We had a lot of ideas for the branding of our company and applications, but Brand School’s templates and Julie’s advice helped us be much more focused and effectively boil down all the ideas into a few key concepts.  It saved us a ton of time, and we got to a name – Light After Loss – that resonates with our customers”. – Charles Moore, Founder and CEO, LightPath Apps

“Brand School was helped us set structure to our process, define our target and recognize our customer’s motivations. We were able to create timely taglines and better-defined branding campaigns.” - Randi Curhan, Development Coordinator for Redwood High School Foundation, Non-profit

“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

“Through Julie’s feedback I learned critical information about my demographic audience, what I was trying to say with my story, and what I stood for.” - Lynn Stull, Owner Arts2Thrive

“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

“Julie was so generous and gave us so much depth.  I learned my core message and how to package and brand it so I could stand out from the crowd.” – Dr. Marina Kostina, Distance Learning Specialist, CEO of  wired@heart

“Taking the Brand School program was THE best decision I ever made for my business.” – Dr. Marina Kostina, Distance Learning Specialist, CEO of  wired@heart

“I highly recommend this program 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

“Brand School helped me get clear on my messaging and my brand. Now my clients know exactly what it is I bring to my classes.” – Josh Pais, Actor and Founder of CommittedImpulse, creativity workshop

“Brand School allowed me to get to the essence of my brand. I was able to hone and tighten up my brand. Thank you, Julie, it’s a great program.” – Jonathan Flaks, President, Jonathan Flaks Coaching Associates

“I learned a lot from Brand School.  It inspired me to think outside the box. I have a much deeper understanding of how to effectively build a brand.” – Mike Sass, Entrepreneur

“I was amazed at the depth of information and the practical easy to understand program resources that were provided by Brand School. Julie delivered on her brand promise and taught me in an easy to understand format how to do the same for my business.” – Mike Sass, Entrepreneur

“If anyone needs to understand the PROPER professional way that WILL make a difference for branding your business, Brand School is your go to source.” – Mike Sass, Entrepreneur

“Quality information. The value is priceless. I loved every minute of it! I’ve recommended Brand School to industry friends and colleagues.” – Barbara Wanzo, Non-profit Homeowner Services

“I never realized how much branding could help me make better business decisions! Thanks to Brand School – I have finally gotten it…. Whew!” – Malla Haridat, Coaching for Small Business and Entrepreneurs

“I’ve taken quite a few courses on branding and marketing overall. However, what attracted me to Brand School was Julie’s experience with branding from a corporate level.” - Malla Haridat, Coaching for Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs

“I received huge value from Brand School. You can’t put a price on that experience. I loved the integrated learning experience and that we walked out of the series with a working brand strategy.” – Rachel Watkins, Brand Development for Large Businesses

“Julie’s active participation in Brand School and feedback was amazing and helped a LOT. I received great value from this program.”  - Leslie Hughes, PUNCH!media

“BrandTwist was definitely a worthwhile investment. Even though I have had over 15 years experience in marketing, digging deeper into my core values while receiving feedback and encouragement helped me to take my brand to a whole new level.” Leslie Hughes, PUNCH!media 

“Julie gave great examples in Brand School that inspired me to think outside the box. I especially appreciate her attention to everyone’s brands and her insightful comments. Thank you!” – Jamie Lacroix, Marketing Department for a Non-profit

“Brand School exceeded my expectations. I went in a bit of a brand daze and stepped out of it with a great deal of brand clarity and exciting ideas for the future of my brand.” - Jamie Lacroix, Marketing Department for a Non-profit

“It was great pulling everything together from touch points, to pillars. I would recommend Brand School to any small biz owner or entrepreneur.” – Sarah Weiss, Event Consulting

“I’m forever grateful for my opportunity at Brand School. Thank you again Julie Cottineau, for sharing your branding toolbox with me.” – Sara Weiss, Event Consulting

“Brand School gave my business its wings. I was struggling with a company name and how to tell my story. Brand School’s coaching helped me develop my brand and core values. Julie is an incredible thought partner with brilliant ideas. I would recommend this course to any entrepreneur.” - Sarah Weiss, Event Consulting

“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 Dillion Cavette, Fashionista Tea

“If you are starting a business and beginning to build your brand – Brand School is a must class for you! The exercises really help you to focus and re-focus on what branding your company is all about.  You will get results you can use for the future,” – Brenda Dillion Cavette,  Fashionista Tea

“I just wanted to send you a note of thanks for Brand School for the challenges, the lessons, the webinars and answering my e-mails whenever I had personal questions.  I felt I got a lot out of the class and have grown more in all you have to think about when you start and grow your business.” - Brenda Dillion Cavette, Fashionista Tea

“When my partner and I formed our law firm, Pomeroy + Prieur LLP, we had only vague ideas about how to market ourselves. Julie gave us focus. She helped to identify our target market, showcase our unique strengths and effectively communicate how we can ad value to our client’s businesses.” – Jeremy Pomeroy, Partner, Pomeroy + Prieur, LLP

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.

What’s Your Brand Theme Song?

Every detail plays a part in starting a business – you need the vision, the plan, the team, the perspective, and the ability to execute. Carolyn Browning, founder of MEETing Needs, LLC, shares how a Brand School workshop exercise “Identifying your brand’s theme song” helped her bring it all together and formulate a plan for success.

This entry, from Carolyn Browning, is another in our guest blogger seriesRead more about Carolyn in her bio below. If you would like to be a guest blogger for BrandTwist contact Jamie@BrandTwist.com for more information.

Girl with headphones

If you are anything like me, there is always music playing – whether in the car, exercising, preparing dinner or working. The type of music varies, but having something in the background helps my mood – it calms me, energizes me, and keeps me focused.

So I was excited when some pre-work for a workshop I recently attended entitled “The Brand of You” (led by BrandTwist’s own Julie Cottineau), was to choose a song, poem or quote that described my personal brand.

Editors note: This workshop has passed but you can read more about how to effectively tell your brand story, in Julie Cottineau’s article, HERE. If you want to make sure you hear about future events like the one Carolyn attended, sign up for our mailing list.

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 I immediately decided that I’d choose a song – but which one to pick? What would best describe my company – MEETing Needs? My brain was bouncing in different directions as I started listening to the radio. I happened to be tuned to the Broadway show tunes station when, it hit me – “Putting it Together”, a Sondheim classic from Sunday in the Park with George, about an artist who is trying to overcome objections from his manager, investor and wife, about his style and the direction his art is going in.

I started singing some of the lines

“Bit by bit, putting it together… Every moment makes a contribution; every little detail plays a part. Having just a vision’s no solution, everything depends on execution….”

This really resonated with me and my new brand and it ties together the three core facets of my business. Here are some of the other lyrics and the correlations I drew:

“Link by link, making the connections”

In my speaking/training area – I love helping people connect concepts together.

“First of all you need a good foundation, otherwise it’s risky from the start”

When facilitating a meeting or retreat for a group, a good foundation and vision is critical

“Mapping out the right configuration… starting with a suitable foundation… til you have a balanced composition”

This applies to meeting management, planning things out – keeping harmony among the various parties – balancing the stakeholders needs.

“Putting it Together” could be the soundtrack for my life, both personally and professionally – almost everything I’ve done has to do with putting together people and ideas. From organizing activities for my sisters and I, to planning parties, to leading clubs in school, to training the sales team on a new product, to building a strategic plan with an association board, or finally starting my own company. Every detail plays a part – you need the vision, the plan, the team, the perspective, and the ability to execute.

Identifying your brand’s theme song was a really helpful exercise and just the beginning of this incredible workshop. From there we delved into creating a cohesive story that resonates with our target audience. We pinpointed personal stories that could be used to define us and our brand; linked the personal story to our professional experience and finally tied it all together in our ‘elevator pitch’.

Julie’s technique of finding a theme song as a way to explore what is unique about my personal brand really inspired me.  I came away energized to tell my story and might just be adding some theme music to my website…

About guest blogger Carolyn Browning:

Carolyn Browning is the Chief Solution Strategist of MEETing Needs, LLC. After years of freelance meeting planning, developing association leaders, leading certification prep classes and being a super-volunteer, she decided to combine her passion for teaching, facilitating and designing meetings to start her own company, MEETing Needs. She is a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP), holds a Certificate in Meeting Management (CMM), is a multiple-award winning member and two-term past president of the Meeting Professionals International (MPI) WestField Chapter. In her “spare time” she manages the family schedule for her husband and two busy teenagers. If you’d like to find out more about Carolyn or MEETing Needs, contact her at crb@carolynbrowning.com, follow her on Twitter @crbcmp or visit her website, www.carolynbrowning.com.

Why Bother Branding Your Small Business?

In this post, Why Bother Branding Your Small Business?, Malla Haridat shares the revelation that she, “…never realized how important branding was to small businesses. Especially those struggling with a clear and powerful answer to “why should I buy from you?” This is part of our guest blogger seriesMalla is an entrepreneur, strategist and Brand School graduate. Read more about Malla at the end of the post.  If you would like to be a guest blogger for BrandTwist contact Jamie@BrandTwist.com for more information.

Big fish, little fish
I always thought that branding only made sense for big companies.  I visualized an executive team strategizing about the vision and look of the company to ensure that all employees operated with one voice to give a consistent “feel” for customers.
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I never realized how important branding was to small businesses. Especially those struggling with a clear and powerful answer to “why should I buy from you?”
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I am a strategist for small business owners and help women entrepreneurs in the making take their talents to the bank.  You can visit my blog at mallaharidat.com for advice with a no BS approach.  I have been blessed to work with amazing clients who hired me to build small business camps and workshops.  But after years of serving corporate and not for profit clients, I realized there was a market I really should be serving – individual women entrepreneurs.  However, it has been a challenge for me to convey how I can impact individuals after years of focusing my marketing on the needs of large groups. I enrolled in the Fall ’12 Session of Brand School by Brand Twist and it gave me several insights on how to build my business.
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I learned that branding is so much more than creating a tag line or choosing your color scheme. It is an opportunity to craft a clear identity for your company that allows you to focus on what you deliver. And once you tackle this challenge, it’s much easier to communicate to prospective clients, the media and even your friends and family about what you deliver and why your company is better than others.

I also learned how to design a clear framework around my services – what I would focus on and what I would leave off the table. For a solo entrepreneur who is often enticed to take on all types of work that sounds interesting – it’s critical to have this boundary so that I don’t lose focus from my company’s core strength.

So here are the top branding lessons I learned:

1.   Creating a brand proposition is critical for a small business.  Yes, it’s hard work. And yes, you’ll have to spend valuable time creating and testing your brand while  you’d rather be finding new customers. But the payoff is INCREDIBLE. The clear verbal message I have about my business is making it much easier for prospects to “get” me.  And it really paid off recently as I was awarded a finalist spot in a business pitch competition!  I never would have been able to hone my message into a 2 minute pitch that was clear, compelling – and won me a coveted spot.

2.   Incorporating the values of brands you love into your business can be a fun and enlightening way to engage new prospects. I examined two brands that I love  – Embassy Suites and Trader Joe’s – and found themes that both companies use that have helped me to clarify my own brand.  What’s so cool about that activity is that you examine companies that are not in your industry to better strengthen your own company. I found that their focus on over-delivering on value yet charging competitively was an idea that I could incorporate in my own brand.

3. Get clear on who you serve.  It’s amazing how many times I have heard other entrepreneurs share that “I serve everyone” in my business plan camps. It’s impossible for even large multi-national brands with huge advertising budgets to reach everyone in the market.  And yet, when I first started looking at my target customer, I almost started to do the same thing. Yes, I knew that women entrepreneurs were a target but I hadn’t spent time in their “shoes” and really living and understanding  their concerns, needs and values to better position my product. It’s about getting to the core of what keeps them up at night and the language they use to describe their problems. And while I am clear that understanding my target customer will be ongoing in my business, I am happy to say I’ll spend less money on marketing because I have a deeper understanding of the copy and language I can use to attract her and the groups that I can start targeting.

Branding isn’t just for the big guys. In fact, I think its even more important for small businesses because we have to stand out, and make sure that every single dollar spent on marketing and client acquisition pays off. A strong brand with a clear message can help a small business achieve big things.

Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program, delivers the tools and steps you need to grow 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.
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“I received huge value from Brand School. You can’t put a price on that experience. I loved the integrated learning experience and that we walked out of the series with a working brand strategy.” - Rachel Watkins, Brand Development for Large Businesses
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MallaMalla Haridat is an entrepreneurship strategist and founder of Mom and Daughters Inc. As the founder and CEO of New Designs for Life, Malla is a nationally recognized expert in the specialized field of entrepreneurship education and has trained over 1,000 students. Her company was awarded the 2005 New York City Small Business Award of the Year by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and has been featured in publications like The New York Times and on Martha Stewart Radio.