Commit to Continual Learning

It’s my final tip in the 13 Tips for Stronger Branding blog series! On behalf of BrandTwist, thank you so much for reading through the posts, and following me on Twitter and Facebook as I posted about all of them. Now, for the final tip…

TIP #13: COMMIT TO CONTINUAL LEARNING 

Branding is as much an art as a science. Even the most skilled brand professionals can benefit from continual learning and challenging themselves mentally. After all, trends in social media and technology are all constantly evolving. Why shouldn’t we? Whether you are just starting out on your branding journey, or have a well-established brand, everyone can use a boost in today’s hyper competitive markets.

Participate in webinars, take classes provided by industry education leaders like General Assembly or Skillshare. Even attending meet ups or networking events organized through your company or in fields you’re curious about are key to your professional development. The growth you do doesn’t need to break the bank, and online learning can be an efficient and effective way to brush up on your d branding skills. You don’t need to spend a fortune on travel or take extra-long breaks at the office. Commit to one hour a day – probably the length of that TV show on Bravo you record on your DVR at home. Take that hour on your lunch break; multitask if you have to. After all, the great entrepreneurs do it. You could be one of them.

IT’S TIME TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL – BRAND SCHOOL

For more actionable strategies, sign up for Brand School, the highly effective, premier program that  teaches you how to grow your business  by building a stronger brand. From bull’s eye targeting to strategic social media and more, Brand School shares current best practices from Virgin and the world’s best brands and shows you how to apply that knowledge to your own business for greater impact from day one.

Learn more HERE.

“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

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 

Engage in the Conversation

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

en·gage 
v.
 en·gageden·gag·ingen·gag·es
1. To involve oneself or become occupied; participate: engage in conversation.

It’s not enough to talk to a few loyal fans and followers on social media. You must really engage: it’s the only way to get ahead. Read on for another tip that will help you engage better.

TIP #11: ENGAGE IN THE CONVERSATION

Stop observing and start participating. Curious about Pinterest? Create a page and start pinning. Set up a Twitter account, follow those you can learn from, comment on and Retweet other users’ content. Start small; the important thing is that you get in on the conversation. You don’t have to start your own blog, but you should comment on blogs that you read and find relevant. This simple act can help drive traffic back to your site – and may even lead to valuable and enriching professional relationships.

What simple tips have you used to grow your business? Let me know in the comment section or on Facebook.

Check out tip #12 in the series, Innovate New Brand Ideas by Adding a Fresh Twist.

ENGAGE BETTER WITH A STRONGER BRAND THROUGH BRAND SCHOOL

Brand building is one of the single most important things you can do to grow your business but it takes expertise, energy and investment. Julie Cottineau, the Applegate Network’s Small Business Branding Expert and the former VP of Brand for Richard Branson’s Virgin is here to show you how.

Brand School is the premier program for business owners and entrepreneurs who what to grow their business. Brand School takes best practices of beloved brands such as Virgin, Apple, and Zappos and teaches you how to apply their success to your business to build a stronger brand to drive business results. Brand School gives you engaging videos, interactive exercises and exclusive access to a private community of other entrepreneurs. Learn more about Brand School HERE.

“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 

Hone Your Elevator Pitch

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

TIP # 10: HONE YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH 

No matter what category your brand competes in, it’s becoming harder to stand out, since your potential customers are bombarded with so much information every day. That’s why it’s so important to have a really tight elevator pitch. It helps people “get” what you stand for right away and then quickly decide whether they want to learn more about your brand. Write down your pitch in no more than 250 words and continue to practice and perfect it. Start with one headline promise that highlights what your brand enables, not what you offer – and three support points. Rotate and freshen these points depending on your target audience, but be prepared to tell your story in 3 elevator flights, not 10 or even 30. Learn more about honing your elevator pitch here.

Check out tip #11 in the series, Engage In The Conversation.
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MAKE YOUR PITCH EVEN BETTER WITH BRAND SCHOOL 

Brand building doesn’t mean just designing a pretty logo and creating a cool name. It means choosing a bull’s eye target and defining your unique brand promise to connect with your consumers on an emotional level. Bottom line: you need to pay attention to your brand and perfecting your elevator pitch is a huge part of that.

Brand School’s premier branding program will help you zero-in on your brand.  Brand School takes best practices of beloved brands such as Virgin, Apple, and Zappos and brings them to life in engaging videos, interactive exercises and access to an exclusive private community of fellow entrepreneurs. Learn more about Brand School and find out about our special discounts just for social media friends when you sign up for our newsletter.

“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

Make Your Brand Personal

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

TIP #9: MAKE YOUR BRAND PERSONAL 

Most successful entrepreneurs – think Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, or the founder of TOMS shoes, Blake Mycoskie – started their businesses because they were trying to find solutions to issues that were personally meaningful to them. I’m going to tell you something that may strike a cord with some of you. If you’re not working at that something that really matters to you, then stop doing it. Seriously, just stop.

There will be a limit to how much you can solve issues for your customers, if you just don’t care that much. Conversely, if you have something that really bugs you as a consumer, think about creating a business or product that can solve this issue. This is a key sign that it’s time to turn your pet peeve into a business. Read more about how to make your hobby your business here.

Successful entrepreneurs also spend time managing their personal brands and leveraging them to support their professional credibility. Richard Branson’s daring stunts (like crossing the Atlantic in a hot air balloon) help re-inforce the image of Virgin as a challenger brand. Like professional brand building, your personal brand needs management. Figure out what you want to achieve for yourself and your business and then create a plan for how to get there. Do you want to have more exposure? Boost your credibility? Gain more confidence to speak in front of larger audiences? Feel more comfortable charging more for your services? All of this takes deliberate effort. Perform a careful analysis on the brand of YOU. Identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and create a plan on how to continue to build your assets, close any credibility gaps and personally support your business.

Check out tip #10 in the series, Hone Your Elevator Pitch.

PERSONALIZE YOUR BUSINESS WITH BRANDTWIST

Brand School is the premier program that teaches you how to grow your business by growing a stronger brand. Brand School takes best practices of beloved brands such as Virgin, Apple, and Zappo’s and brings them to life in engaging videos, interactive  exercises and exclusive access to a private community of other entrepreneurs. Learn more about Brand School and receive updates when you sign up for our newsletter HERE

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

Find Moments That Matter

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

TIP #8: FIND MOMENTS THAT MATTER

Many marketers fall into the trap of thinking that branding always has to be a huge gesture, a big billboard, a knockout commercial, etc. And while branding IS effectively promoted that way, sometimes, the little moments matter the most when it comes to reinforcing your brand promise. Think about the trivia tidbits on the inside of Snapple caps, the kooky smile on Amazon’s box every time you receive a home delivery, or the branded logo on the bottom of the Virgin Atlantic salt and pepper shakers. What little moments could your brand be overlooking? It could be a small line of copy on an invoice, or a greeting that loads as your website boots up. Take just five minutes out of your daily routine to stop and think about a potential mundane moment that, in fact, could surprise and delight your customer and creates a stronger brand connection in the process.

Remember, with a little creativity there can be tons of magic in even the smallest moment.

Check out tip #9 in the series, Make Your Brand Personal.

BRAND SCHOOL ADDS A TWIST TO YOUR BUSINESS

Brand School is the highly effective, premier branding program specifically designed to meet the needs of small business owners and entrepreneurs. Learn more about Brand School here and read testimonials from many of Brand School’s satisfied former participants. To receive news about special offers and stay up to date on the next semester, please join our newsletter.

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“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

Show, Don’t Tell

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

For today’s post, we’re taking a trip back to grade school. You know, when you had those class projects you brought in to show your fellow students (and hopefully, engaged listeners) about your product, thing or idea? Let’s start there. Read on for another tip to help you brand your business even more successfully.

TIP #7: SHOW, DON’T TELL

Brands must have clear brand promises in order to be successful. But the strongest  brands also back up their words with actionable results. Marketers, strategists and social media experts, that means that you need to ensure your experience actually delivers what you say it will. Virgin America has done so well in a relatively short time span because the brand doesn’t just tell you it’s ‘A Breath of Fresh Airline’. It shows you, through unique mood lighting that’s present on each aircraft, a touch-screen RED entertainment system built into the headboard of the airline seats, and the complete ability to control when you order and eat during the flight. Add to that fleet-wide WiFi and a rockin’ elevate points system and you might actually start to feel that seeing is believing. Great brands “walk the talk”. Is your brand blowing hot air, or does it deliver what it promises? Delivery and execution for brands isn’t always an easy task, but brands that show their consumers what they offer, rather than telling it, are the ones that make it to the head of the class.

Check out tip #8 in the series, Find Moments That Matter.

LET BRAND SCHOOL SHOW YOU THE POWER OF BRAND

Brand School is the premier program that shows you step-by-step how to build your brand and grow your business. Brand School takes best practices of beloved brands such as Virgin, Apple, and Zappo’s and teaches you how to apply these lessons right away to your brand. It’s not about the theory of branding. It’s about rolling up your sleeves, learning by doing, and seeing the impact of a stronger brand right away. Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date on special offers and learn more about the next semester of Brand School HERE

“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 Committed Impulse, creativity workshop

Fail Harder

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

TIP #6: FAIL HARDER

If you take nothing else, from this blog series, please start to change your attitude toward failure. Most of us are terrified of failing at anything, much less our careers and the things we’re most passionate about, but you need to learn to start embracing it. Why? When you’re failing, you’re acting and also learning from whatever you do that doesn’t work. One of the most important lessons I learned at Virgin was from the disastrous launch of Virgin Cola. Richard Branson and others often talk it about the launch within the company as an important learning moment. It showed the Virgin team a valuable lesson: that the brand should focus on experiences and not products, because there is so much more opportunity in an experience to shake things up and delight the consumer. This was an important learning touchpoint, and ultimately saved Virgin millions of company dollars, moving forward.

Bottom line: a failure, especially a big failure, can be more than worth the money lost as long as you take stock of what drove the failure and apply that learning for a stronger brand moving forward. Read more about the power of failure here.

Check out tip #7 in the series, Show, Don’t Tell.

HOW CAN BRAND SCHOOL HELP YOU TO SUCCEED?

Brand School is the premier program that teaches you how to grow your business by growing a stronger brand. Brand School takes best practices of beloved brands such as Virgin, Apple, and Zappo’s and brings them to life in engaging videos, interactive homework exercises and exclusive access to a private community of other entrepreneurs. Learn more about Brand School HEREAnd to receive updates on the next semester and news of exclusive offers for BrandTwist social media friends, sign up for the BrandTwist newsletter.

“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

Try to Get Fired

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

TIP #5: THINK OF ONE THING THAT COULD GET YOU FIRED

Often, we are our own worst enemies. We come up with a fresh idea, then immediately censor it. “What if my boss doesn’t like it?” “What if it fails and I get fired?” This kind of thinking blocks innovation and is actually hindering your productivity and growth, whether you know it or not.

To snap out of the mindset you’re currently in, I encourage you to try this exercise. Start brainstorming new ideas, and make the objective of your brainstorming to think specifically of ones that would get you fired. I’m not talking about spreading company gossip on your Facebook page or throwing up on the CEO at your holiday party (Yikes. Did anyone actually do that?). I’m also definitely not encouraging you to actually get fired; work experience and a 401K is sometimes too valuable to just give up.

I’m talking about creating an idea that deliberately takes you out of your habitual comfort zone. By thinking in this way, going to the extreme opposite of what’s expected, you actually ladder up your thinking. You might just come up with a nugget of an idea that’s pitch-worthy, even brilliant and highly-marketable. Read more on this creative-thinking technique here. 

Check out tip #6 in the series, Fail Harder.

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GET PROMOTED WITH BRAND SCHOOL

For more actionable strategies, sign up for Brand School, the premier program that  teaches you how to grow your business by growing a stronger brand. From bull’s eye targeting to strategic social media and more – Brand School shares current best practices from Virgin and the world’s best brands  and teaches you how to apply these lessons to your business for greater impact from day one. To receive up to date news of the next semester and special offers for BrandTwist social media friends, sign up for the BrandTwist newsletter HERE

“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

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Get Out and Go On a Brand Safari

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

Branding is about experiences, but too often we get stuck behind our desks imagining the word through our computer screens instead of really engaging in it.  This year, make a commitment to have one new experience every month.

TIP #4: GET OUT AND GO ON A BRAND SAFARI

Go out on what I like to call brand safaris – trips where you are deliberately experiencing something new. Then, use the inspiration you gain and apply it to your own brand. In New York City for example, some great brand safaris could be taking a trip to the MoMa, traversing the Lower East Side, popping into the NBC Experience Store (the name says it all), one of the many Apple stores, even Times Square in Midtown. Bring a notebook and a camera, and become a people-watcher. Observe what people are doing and how they interact in their environment. Make sure to write down what you find interesting about each of these experiences and, once you’re back in your comfy office chair, think about different ways you can apply that same inspiration to your brand. If you work for a bigger corporation, organize a company outing. Make it a competition or a scavenger hunt for some healthy colleague interaction. Need help organizing a company outing? Contact us. Plus, read more about my take on brand safaris here.
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Check out tip #5 in the series, Try to Get Fired.
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EXPERIENCE THE POWER OF BRAND SCHOOL

Brand building doesn’t mean just designing a pretty logo and creating a cool name. It means choosing a bull’s eye target and defining your unique brand promise to connect with your consumers on an emotional level. Bottom line: you need to pay attention to your brand.

And now you can. Brand School is the premier program that takes best practices of beloved brands such as Virgin, Apple, and Zappos and brings them to life in engaging videos, interactive exercises and exclusive access to a private community of other entrepreneurs. To learn more about the next semester of Brand School and receive news about our exclusive discounts for social media friends, sign up for our newsletter HERE. 

“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