5 Ways Women Can Rock at Branding

Professional Women of Putnam, NY presents “5 Ways Women can Rock at Branding” an interactive workshop for entrepreneurs covering how to reach more clients, generate creative business thinking, make powerful connections, and collaborate to build a stronger brand.

A One-Click Twist Delivers Beer And Surprises

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Home delivery is nothing new. But Bud Light is adding a new TWIST by delivering a surprise experience to your door within minutes.  With one click of the Bud Light Button App, Anheuser-Busch will be delivering your beer plus random surprises – anything from branded gear to a DJ ready to rock your gathering.

With this twist Anheuser-Busch stays right on-brand to connect with Bud Light’s social, party-going and techno-savvy market, which is also reflected in their marketing hashtag #UpForWhatever

Look for new ways to surprise and delight your customers. A little SWAG is always appreciated – but think outside the box to offer something unexpected. Consider also using a hashtag to reaffirm your brand promise throughout your social media channels.

Knowing what really moves and inspires your ideal customer is essential to getting your brand into their life. Brand School Master Class gives you the tools you need to zero-in on your ideal customer and create the TWIST that will take your business further. Enrolling now HERE.

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“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 define our branding campaigns.” - Randi Curhan, Development Coordinator for Redwood High School Foundation, Non-profit

Brand Differentiation Workshop

This 3-hour live workshop will give you the tools and techniques to help your business stand out – no matter how large or small or what category. We’ll show you how to turn your personal TWIST into professional success and take what’s unique about you and make it into the thing that differentiates your business and brand.

A Tiffany’s Twist With FARE Halloween Pumpkins

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Nonprofits and small businesses have big challenges getting brand attention. An innovative TWIST can go a long way toward getting your brand recognized and embraced.

Take a look at this clever TWIST from nonprofit FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education nonprofit). Halloween is a particularly dangerous holiday for children with food allergies, so FARE found a clever way to get attention. Instead of simply broadcasting an awareness campaign, they added this TWIST: They used an iconic color to break through. They also drove engagement by inviting user participation.

Families wishing to be identified as “food allergy friendly” were invited to place a teal pumpkin on their doorstep or a computer print out on their window to identify their house as one that  hands out  out allergy-safe treats like toys, puzzles, games, or books,

They made it easy for kids to get involved by offering free downloads of promotional materials like pumpkin templates.

While the teal pumpkin idea was not specifically influenced by Tiffany’s (Teal has always been the identified color of food allergy awareness) We love the inspirational TWIST that a teal pumpkin is like a Tiffany’s box, which means that when you see it, you immediately know something special awaits.

What can your small business or non-profit TWIST with to create more impact and more engagement?

At Brand School, the premier brand-learning program for small businesses, nonprofits and entrepreneurs, we don’t simply teach you the brand facts; we invite you to become an active participant. You have access to an exclusive group of like-minded business owners who support and encourage one another. Find out how your business can benefit from Brand School HERE.

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“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

Hit the Mic with Stacey Harris and Julie Cottineau

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We are excited to bring you this series of podcasts from Social Media Expert and Brand School Social Media Faculty Advisor Stacey Harris. This is a free series of talks with BrandTwist Founder & CEO Julie Cottineau about how to make your brand really stand out. They discuss ways to make branding decisions easier and how to take what the big brands do and apply their twists to your brand to build stronger, more profitable businesses – even in a crowded marketplace.

Stacey is a Brand School graduate and we are really excited to now have her as a member of the Brand School Facutly. Stacey’s site, TheStaceyHarris.com, is full of social media marketing insight, podcasts featuring chats with business experts, and courses to help you get more bang from your social media effort.

SO GET READY for tons of branding, marketing and business innovation takeaways – listen to the podcasts here:

Brands That Stand Out with Julie Cottineau – Episode 101 

Better Branding with Julie Cottineau – Episode 27 

TAP INTO THE KNOWLEDGE

Connecting with other business owners or entrepreneurs is an effective way to keep your business ideas fresh. In Brand School Master Class you connect with an exclusive community of like-minded business owners and entrepreneurs that support one another and share inspirations to stay on track and bring fresh ideas to market. We’re enrolling now. See if your brand qualifies.

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“Working with Julie 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

Duck, Duck, Twist?

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You’re not the only one – there are plenty of ducks in the pond – and they’re all cute. So how do you stand out? Duck, duck, TWIST! Here are three top twists that you can implement right now that will help you create a more memorable brand:

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF TOUCHPOINTS:

Chipotle’s packaging on their cups and bags contains “passionate ramblings” such as, “I think we could be really good together” paired with a picture of a burrito. This is an engaging TWIST which separates them from the fast food pack. Break out in your category by taking advantage of overlooked moments and materials to send on-brand messages. Packing slips, invoices and receipts, outside AND inside shopping bags and packages make great places for an inspirational and unique note of thanks.

CURATE AN EASIER WAY TO SAMPLE YOUR BUSINESS

Draw inspiration from Birchbox who created an entire company around making it easier for shoppers to try out new products. Make it easier for customers to sample and appreciate your products or services. Include a little SWAG like a sticker, pen, trial size or discount coupon with orders. A price bundle that includes an “entry level” or trial period can make a potential consumer feel more at ease trying your services out.

PLAY UP YOUR LOCATION:

These two successful hotels mastered the power of location to stand out among big chain competitors. Don’t be afraid to be local. Celebrating where you come from can help you get noticed – and help people identify with what you are offering. Have local maps available online and in-house and offer post cards that show your location. Connect with local tourism departments and travel agencies. Partner with neighboring businesses and offer to swap discount coupons or affiliate referral offers.

REMEMBER:

There is no touch point too small, no free sample that isn’t appreciated and no local watering hole that isn’t a gathering place for those in the know… just add your brand’s unique TWIST to fly above the flock.

What are some TWISTS you could use to increase your brand’s reach?

Brand School Master Class – Enrolling now. See if your brand qualifies.

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“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

4 Unconventional Ways to Build Buzz Around Your Brand

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With everyone sharing, tweeting and updating as much as they can, how can your business stand out? How can you draw your customer in and build buzz around your brand?

Advertising streams and social channels are loaded with quality content, information, inspiring quotes and the newest tips to make life better, but consider that consumers are looking for even more than that. Customers want to be actively connected with your business and be a part of what makes your brand unique.  We’ve taken a look at four surprising ways that some clever brands have twisted their social media campaigns and gone beyond the usual hashtags to cut through the static, draw in brand followers and make a memorable impression in a crowded market.

Read on to find our four unconventional tips.

1. GIVE RECOGNITION TO YOUR FANS 

If you’ve got people discussing your brand, give them some props! Go beyond re-blogging, retweeting, liking, commenting, and following back. One of the beautiful things about social media is that it allows you to reward followers with recognition – and they, in turn, will reward you with circulating your kindness throughout their social communities. Consider what Taco Bell’s doing: sending a gift package to fans that reach out to them. This strategy can be especially effective when marketing to teens and other very enthusiastic users of social media. Depending on your budget, it can be as grand as tickets to a concert or show or as simple as a photo, badge, sticker or certificate.

2. GET WEIRD 

One reliable way to get noticed is by behaving in a way followers would not expect from you. Get a little weird! It’s important not to go off brand on this, so it’s vital to think about where your brand fits, and whether or not it could stand a little weirdness added to it. If your brand sells a sweet soda or drink, sure, be funny! If you’re a health insurance company, this approach may not be on par with your business’ tone of voice.

If you’re wondering where to start with this approach, start with asking: where do people want to be amused? This can be a lot of fun! You could be inspired by Old Spice and transform yourself into a super character who answers questions from his adoring fans. The point is to add a little whimsy to your brand to entertain and delight your followers.

3. CROWDSOURCE A DECISION 

One great way to engage your fans and build buzz is to let them in on a decision. Ask them how to solve or fix a problem, to name a new product or service, or even something as small and inconsequential as a color scheme.

Take the Lego brand, for example. It has had a long-standing tradition of innovation, as well as sharing that innovation with their fans, young and old. And as Lego began to become more aware of the amount of adult fans they have attracted over the years, they believed it would be engaging to implement some of these fans’ ideas into their target market of children. Then, in 2005, the Lego Ambassador Program was created, which has allowed the company and its fans to continue connecting with each other, also creating a win-win situation for both Lego and their customers.

Open to new ideas, technologies and potential business partnerships, the Lego Group’s program gave a new meaning to the term “user-generated content”, meaning that not everything needs to be created internally. Because they paid attention to fans, the brand has discovered and implemented new ways to reach new markets without having to sustain long-term fixed costs. And as for the fans, working together with one of the most well-known brands of their childhood gives them the opportunity to influence Lego’s business decisions.

Your followers will be thrilled to participate in the decision-making process and love feeling like they have a say in what happens with their favorite brand. At the end of the process, don’t forget to loop back to #1 and give them recognition for all their hard work!

4. SPOTLIGHT EMPLOYEES

As you may already know, your employees are going to be your business’s greatest assets. Just like your customers, when employees’ needs are met it helps to keep a business running successfully. And if they’re happy enough, you can turn your loyal employees into valuable brand advocates. Considering the fact that regular employees have more credibility than CEOs themselves, many consumers are more likely to trust personal recommendations than they are ads. With this in mind, it’s vital to ensure that your employees are representing your brand in the most positive way.

According to Duncan Gilman, Dean of Students at Spalsh Media U, it doesn’t necessarily have to take a lot to get an employee excited about doing social media for your brand. In fact, he actually managed to create a “spy game” out of it. The objective of the game is to discover five online mentions of the brand, and the first person to find the five wins. In addition to highlighting the importance of social media listening, it also gives your employees a deeper understanding of the brand’s online reputation.

Using these mentions, a brand can re-share and repurpose the content circulating it across their own channels. Brands benefit when their employees start the initial wave on social media, and having your employees take the time to explore the brand in a fun and engaging way to do it is one of the best ways for consumers to become familiar with you. Furthermore, social engagement helps to build pride among team members. If they are proud of what their brand stands for, they will be more inclined to share. And, it’s always a good idea to consider putting an employee social media policy in place.

Simply put, if your employees are performing well and are keeping customers happy, then it’s important to recognize them for their achievements. Keeping motivation high within your team is essential and even the smallest rewards can go a long way.

UNCONVENTIONAL BRINGS INNOVATION 

In the crowded world of social media, everyone is competing for limited views. There are only so many words that a user will read every day, but by trying these TWISTS, your brand can navigate the waters of social media anonymity and build some real buzz! Happy tweeting!

From Social Media to Intellectual Property Law to Taglines and Photographic Content, see what our expert team of Brand School Faculty Advisors can do for your business and brand. Learn about our next semester and see if your business qualifies for our one-on-one Brand Health Check Strategy Session HERE.

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See more entries in our social media blog series HERE.

About the Author:

Dave Landry is an online journalist, personal finance counselor, and entrepreneur in Southern California. When he is not sharing his advice on debt management, he enjoys writing about social media marketing, the impact of business globalization on the global economy, business communications, and technology.

If you would like to be a BrandTwist guest blogger, please contact Jamie@brandtwist.com

Jump Start Your Business – Workshop

Learn 5 sure-fire ways to boost your brand and your business. You’ll gain practical insights, takeaway steps, and be infused with energy. You’ll learn how to: Know what your customer needs - Define your unique difference - Make every brand touch point count - Twist your thinking to create fresh ideas - Create a plan to grow your brand

The 4 Most Important Questions Your Brand Must Answer

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Critical to the development of a strong brand is the ability to powerfully and concisely answer the following four simple, but critical questions. Ask yourself whether your brand has taken the time to think through each of these areas, or whether it’s time to revisit these four fundamentals that make all the difference to your business success:

1.WHO are the most important targets for the brand?

The biggest mistake that businesses make is they try to reach every body and they end up connecting with nobody. It may sound counter-intuitive, but the narrower your target – the wider your success. Zero-in on a specific type of person and delve deep to know what makes them tick, what keeps them up at night, what’s missing that your product or service can help address?

At Brand School Master Class one of the first exercises we do is to create a Target Persona. We develop a character, like in a novel, and give them a back story. Really drill down, the more specific, the better. Think beyond standard demographics like age and gender. Do they live in the city or suburbs? What’s their family dynamic like? What keeps them up at night? What’s on their DVR? What was the last vacation they raved about? Then get more specific about their needs in relation to your category. What’s going on in their lives right now that might make them receptive to your brand message? What else have they tried to meet this need? Who are their key influencers? Some brands have one target while others have several different targets. If you have more than one, do this exercise for up to three targets – but then look for the common drivers between them. These Target Personas become the fundamental inspiration that will help you keep your branding, marketing and advertising more productively focused.

2. WHAT is going to compel them to choose your brand and stay loyal?

Once you understand what your ideal target is really searching for…how can you meet that need? Great brands don’t just help to get things done – they help people feel differently about themselves. Your Brand Promise needs to be more than about functional benefits. You need to really connect emotionally. Starbucks isn’t selling coffee, it’s promising community. Nike is not about running, it’s about achievement. At Brand School, we call these kind of benefits “top of the pyramid” promises (think about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs). What’s at the top of your brand’s pyramid that will really connect with your customer and turn them from an occasional user to a loyal fan? The deeper you go in your WHO – the Target Persona exercise – the easier it will be to zero-in  a compelling and differentiated brand promise.

3. WHY should these high-priority targets believe in your brand?

Now that you’ve got their attention with a powerful Brand Promise (or Brand Idea) WHY should they believe that you can deliver on this?  In Brand School Master Class we dive further into creating Brand Pillars – the differentiated and credible ways that you support your Brand Promise.

These Pillars should reflect your unique point of view in the category, how you see and do things differently. If you are a small business owner or entrepreneur, your Personal Brand is also an important Pillar. How does your personality and passion help your customer get what they need?  Share why what you do is important to you, and share your personal story or the story of how you started your business. But always keep your Target Personas in mind when developing the Pillars and avoid trite support points like “High Quality” and “Trustworthy”. Those are a given in any category and are not going to make you stand out.

4. HOW is your brand felt in every touch point?

This is where the rubber really hits the road. Any brand can say they are great, but how many can really prove it in all of the customer interactions? Look for moments of magic that are going to bring your brand to life and help you connect with your ideal target. Stay fresh and consistent with your language and visual brand representation.

Virgin Atlantic delights their flyers with tiny salt and pepper shakers shaped like airplanes with feet. Pleple were carrying them off the plane with them so Virgin Atlantic had the words “pinched from Virgin” printed on the bottom of the shakers. Snapple places entertaining facts on the insides of their bottle caps which have become collectibles. Place words of wisdom or tips on packing slips, invoices or cash register receipts to keep your brand in the eyes of your customers. Include a genuine thank you note in your packages along with a sticker of your brand’s logo. Don’t forget the outside and/or inside of packages and tote bags. The idea is to surprise your customer and create a stronger brand connection.

Answering these four critical questions will help you develop a clearer brand,  build a stronger business, grow your customer base and continue to innovate ways to serve your consumer better. Brand School Master Classour highly effective, premier branding program, delivers the tools and steps you need to strengthen your brand and your connection to your customers. See if your business qualifies for Brand School’s exclusive programs at BrandSchoolOnline.com.

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Fast Food Wrapped Up In a Twist

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Chipotle is not your stereotypical fast food restaurant chain. After experiencing Chipotle one time, you will forever be done with the regret that often follows eating the traditional fast food burger and fries. Founded in 1993 in Denver, Colorado, Chipotle Mexican Grill has grown from a single, small restaurant to a worldwide phenomenon with over 1600 outlets in 44 U.S. states and 4 different countries.

While Chipotle is classified in the fast casual segment of the dining industry, you would never know while eating it. You won’t experience the typical “regret factor” that makes you question your fast food decision 45-minutes later when you’re trying to digest. That’s because they make good on their promise to use organic, fresh ingredients and naturally raised meat – as reflected in the company’s mission statement: Food With Integrity. This mission is further brought to life with vegetarian options such as vegetable burritos, salads, and Sofritas (shredded tofu braised with chili and spices).

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There’s also an intriguing mystery about Chipotle’s menu that many customers (except the extremely loyal) may not know. There is a secret menu. This menu has interesting options which one cannot find on the standard restaurant menu, such as Quesaritos and Burritodillas. This has created compelling interest for loyal brand fans known as “Chipotle addicts”, like myself, who are looking for a new experience each time we go to Chipotle. When ordering off the secret menu, the friendly employees might even give you a knowing smirk or wink congratulating you for being an “expert”. These “secret” additions to Chipotle’s menu, as well as their interesting packaging which contains “passionate ramblings” such as, “I think we could be really good together”, paired with a picture of a burrito, is a TWIST in the fast food business which separates them from most other fast food competitors.

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Chipotle also stands out from the rest of the fast food shops thanks to its use of technology for an easier, more customer-friendly experience. If you are worried that the line will be too long or if you’re in a rush, you can use their mobile “Chipotle Ordering” app to give your order in advance. And there’s always the more traditional option to phone in and place your order.

Another important characteristic that Chipotle has which differs it from the rest of its competitors is their casual, yet vibrant atmosphere. In every Chipotle you can always count on lively music like reggae or salsa, or other up-beat, fast-paced music to go along with friendly employees who can make your day brighter.

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Chipotle appeals to a wide variety of customers but seems to have a special spot in the hearts of teenage boys such as myself. Their recent prom promotion is a great example of how well they know their target market. Knowing that it is prom season and that Men’s Warehouse will be filled with tuxedo-renting, burrito-craving teenage boys, They partnered with Men’s Warehouse to give each buying customer a coupon good for a Men’s Warehouse discount and a free order of chips and guacamole at Chipotle.

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Three things you can learn from Chipotle to TWIST with your own brand:

  • Don’t just promise a differentiated benefit – deliver on it with every touch point.
  • Create secret rituals that can connect with your customers to make them feel special and want to be brand ambassadors.
  • Look for unusual partnerships that are trying to reach the same target audience for partnering marketing opportunities.

Conclusion?

Chipotle has a used a number of techniques in order to expand their business, but simply by being unique and reliable Chipotle has sprung forward and now competes (and holds it’s own) in the same arenas as some of the largest names in the business.

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About the author:

Austin Glickstern is a BrandTwist intern and a senior graduating from Dobbs Ferry High School, NY.  For the next four years he will be attending the University of Connecticut where he will study Business.  Some of Austin’s hobbies include playing sports, watching movies, and going to Chipotle often for a couple of huge burritos.

 

If you would like to be a BrandTwist guest blogger, please contact Jamie@brandtwist.com

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