Twisting Personal Branding: Tone, Twitter and Trouble

adeleThough your business’s semblance is essential to your success, don’t forget to pay attention to how you present yourself. Your personal brand shows the public who you are as a company, as well as a person. What’s your TWIST? Are you bubbly and lighthearted? Are you serious and driven? Do you want to appear approachable? These are questions you may want to ask yourself before entering the public eye.

Many businesses have a distinctive presence when it comes to their brand, so much so that it feels more like a personal brand. A prime example is the British juice and smoothie company, Innocent Drinks. As the name implies, this brand maintains an innocent, almost comical appearance on its social media platforms. Innocent Drinks wrote on Twitter, “Scientists * say buying our smoothies for half price…makes you 67% more attractive.” The company then followed up with, “ * Scientists may be imaginary.” With both messages, Innocent Drinks reiterates its twist – its humorous tone – displaying a consistent personal brand. Many consumers, especially the younger demographic, have applauded this personal branding, leading to a strong social media fan base. Because of its successful personal branding, Innocent Drinks makes sure the public remembers its products, as well as the company as a whole.

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Personal branding is just as important, if not more important, for individuals as it is for businesses. Celebrities have a large presence on social media, especially on Twitter. The Twitter platform permits celebrities to quickly  communicate directly with their fans. This is why celebrities often flock to Twitter when problems arise that they want to address in a timely fashion.

Not all business ventures will go off without a hitch and nobody is perfect, not even celebrities. The manner in which you respond to errors and setbacks is crucial to how you and your business, are viewed. When things go wrong in a celebrity’s career, they often follow one of two paths to address it: laugh it off or become utterly serious. The path they choose reflects on both their personal and business brand.

Besides her beautiful voice, Grammy award-winning artist Adele is known for her humor which has become a defining personal brand twist. She is also known for not caring what others, like the media, think about her choices and her lifestyle. This is Adele’s personal brand, and it works for her. When parts of her performance at the 2016 Grammy Awards seemed uncharacteristically out of tune, Adele took to the social media platform to explain the story behind the problem. She tweeted, “The piano mics fell on to the piano strings, that’s what the guitar sound was. It made it sound out of tune. Shit happens…” She then followed with, “Because of it though… I’m treating myself to an In-N-Out. So maybe it was worth it.” Adele was consistent with expressing her humorous and relaxed personality when her performance did not go as planned. Her personal brand stayed intact, and her fans appreciated it.

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But not all celebrities will remain calm, cool, and collected when they run into obstacles – and this can have an impact on their personal brand. Laura Benanti is a Tony Award-winner for her portrayal of Louise in Gypsy and a five-time Tony nominee. Like Adele, Benanti is known for her humor, especially in her frequent tweets. But Benanti’s personal brand veered from funny to ferocious when her husband encountered a seating mix up on a flight.

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She called out United Airlines, tweeting, “Hey United, the garbage can of the skies, if you book an aisle seat across the country you should get that seat. Not the MIDDLE,” to which United Airlines responded, “Hey, Laura. We know seat changes can be a drag. DM us your confirmation number if you’d like assistance.” After Benanti attacked the airline again (later deleting her tweet), United Airlines answered, “We know this is frustrating, however we do state in our Contract of Carriage that seat assignments are never guaranteed.”

Benanti’s personal brand shifted drastically when everything did not go as planned revealing a brand-inconsistent demeanor.  To her, United Airlines was the villain. In the public’s eyes, Benanti became the villain. The sudden change in her personal brand away from humor made her appear unapproachable.

Clearly, finding your personal brand twist is important. The tone you set for yourself and your company shows the public who you are, what you stand for, and how you stand out. When things go wrong, stay consistent with your brand’s tone and handle the situation in keeping with your brand.

About the author:

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Justin Cohen is a rising senior at Dobbs Ferry High School. An International Baccalaureate Diploma Candidate, Justin hopes to pursue a career in advertising. He is happy to be a part of the BrandTwist team!  You can reach Justin on Twitter at @justcohen18 and via email at justcohen18@gmail.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.

Brand. Smash. Rebuild. Repeat

In this post, Brand. Smash. Rebuild. Repeat, Reid Mueller explains that creating a good brand requires knowledge of your company’s identity and your customer’s needs or wants, and illustrates how you can do what 4 big brands have done by re-builing their brands to thrive. This is part of our guest blogger series. Read more about Reid in his bio, below.  If you would like to be a guest blogger for BrandTwist contact Jamie@BrandTwist.com for more information.

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My brother and I were blessed to grow up in a home with Star Wars, Lego and a 2nd floor balcony – the Holy Trinity of childhood. We spent countless hours building Lego spaceships and drop-testing from the balcony. When they broke, we figured out where and how we could make them stronger. When they didn’t break on the carpet, we dropped from the other side onto the tile. They always broke. Engineers test products in the same way to ensure they work. As marketers, we should do this for our brands using the following process.

BUILD THE BRAND BASED ON WHAT YOU WANT YOUR COMPANY TO BE.

Unfortunately, branding a company is harder than branding a cow (even so, I’ll be the first to say that I wouldn’t approach a cow with a smoldering iron for fear of getting a hoof to the head). A brand is more than a name, title or words on a page. Much like a Lego spaceship, a brand is the sum of your company’s products, culture, logo, user-experience, story—viewed through the lens of a customer’s perception. Creating a good brand requires knowledge of your company’s identity and your customer’s needs or wants (it doesn’t matter how well you build a green light-saber; Darth Vader will always buy the red one). This requires strategic development through market research business objectives and long-term planning. Now it’s time to put the pieces together and test the brand.

 THROW IT AGAINST A BRICK WALL AS HARD AS YOU CAN. 

According to Martin Lindstrom, CEO of Buyology Inc., the idea of a “smashable” brand dates back to 1915 when Coca-Cola requested a bottle designed to be identifiable even when thrown against a wall. As we can all attest, they found what they were looking for. So how do you smash your brand? Remove your logo from one of products, ads or website. When you look again, can you still recognize it as your brand? Can someone else? Is your brand as recognizable as the following “broken brands”?

PICK UP THE PIECES. WHAT’S IMPORTANT? WHAT’S MEMORABLE? THROW AWAY EVERYTHING ELSE.

As you can see in the examples above, the smallest elements of your brand are the most critical. No doubt Apple wouldn’t be what it is today if Steve Jobs had not sat in on a calligraphy class when he wasn’t in college. Now the Apple brand is weaved into the font of every word they print. Ask yourself what pieces work. Do you have brand elements that don’t align with your business objectives or your target markets? Look at Harley-Davidson. What if you replaced the “bar and shield” logo with the “Twitter” bird? Would it be successful in Comic Sans Am?

REPEAT UNTIL YOU HAVE AN INTEGRATED BRAND (OR YOU THROW YOUR SHOULDER OUT).

Branding, like anything else, requires endless revision. However, a strong brand paradoxically requires consistency as well. For this reason we hesitate to partake in brand-breaking. We see our brand as the Waterford vase from our grandparents as a wedding gift that goes up on the shelf and never gets touched; that way it never breaks. The problem is that we live in an interactive society where that vase will be removed from the shelf, thrown around like a football, maybe dropped off the balcony for a “science project” about gravity. You cannot be afraid to have your brand touched, because customers will take it down and break it apart whether you like it or not.

This post by Reid Mueller is part of our guest blogger series. Reid is currently working towards a Master’s of Science in Marketing Communications from the University of Kansas.  This post appears as part of BrandTwist’s participation in  ”Blogapalooza” a platform from the University to help students seeking Master’s Degrees in Integrated Marketing Communications gain valuable experience and exposure in blogging. We hope you enjoyed Reid’s post as much as we did. 

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

Click here for more about Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program to help you build your brand to grow your business.

Location, Location, Location

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

CELEBRATING LOCAL WITH A TWIST

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

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

HERE ARE THE LESSONS YOUR BRAND CAN APPLY

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

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

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

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

The Power of “We” in Customer Service

Here’s a little anecdote from a shopping experience I had yesterday that shows how a subtle difference in language can really effect a brand experience.

My daughter broke her backpack and I went shopping for a new one. This is not an easy task by the way – three quarters into the school year the selection is very limited. It’s like trying to find a 4th of July sparkler in November.  Anyway, I digress…

I went into several brand name shops in my local shopping area, frantically searching for the back pack, and I noticed something really important in visiting  two stores back to back.

The sales clerk at store number #1 (Burlington Coat Factory)  told me THEY don’t carry backpacks right now. The “THEY” she was referring to was the store she worked at. The employer paying her check. By using this pronoun it was clear to me that she didn’t really consider herself part of this brand. I love Burlington Coat Factory for its great selection and low prices but I was dismayed by this attitude.

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The sales clerk at store #2 (DSW-Designer Shoe Warehouse) – also wasn’t able to help me find what I was looking for. But she said “I am sorry, WE don’t have backpacks in stock right now”. This subtle difference from “THEY” to “WE” told me that she realized that she was indeed part of the DSW brand. And my experience shopping there has been consistent, the sales clerks will spend a lot of time with you trying to help you find just the right pair of tall black suede boots size 9 (just for example).

Semantics? I don’t think so. I think a brand’s ability to deliver great customer service is linked to its ability to make its employees understand and feel that they are the brand. There is no “THEY” –  there is only “WE”.

Do your employees understand this distinction? Are they taking ownership of your brand?

Building a strong brand culture and delivering on your promise at every touch point - including employee interactions - may not always be as easy as it sounds. We understand the challenges in creating a strong, clear and more profitable brand. Brand School is our highly effective, premier branding program that will give you the tools you need to develop your brand and use it to make your business thrive. Receive more information about the next semester and also receive free brand-building 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.

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