See Clearer With a Twist

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Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

Today, technology is radically changing how we connect with the world. Everyone wants to be a part of it – “selfies”, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook – are all buzzing 24/7.  But one company is using technology to help others not just be seen – but actually see.

Non profit Be My Eyes took an iPhone and TWISTED it with social media to create a breakthrough app that helps solve some of the everyday needs of the blind.

Through a direct video call the app gives blind people the opportunity to ask a sighted volunteer for help dealing with tasks that require normal vision. With the smartphone’s video camera, the blind person films what they wish to know about and shares it with the sighted helper, who describes what is being shown in the video. By working together they are able to overcome the challenge that the blind person is facing. It can be anything from needing to know the expiration date on a milk carton to getting input on choosing which photo to send to a friend.

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“It’s my hope that by helping each other as an online community, Be My Eyes will make a big difference in the everyday lives of blind people all over the world” – Hans Jørgen Wiberg, Founder of Be My Eyes

What would make life better for your customers and what can you TWIST with to find innovative ways to deliver it to them?

Brand School Master Class teaches you how to find and apply TWISTS that make it easier for customers to enjoy experiencing your business. Enrolling now – see if your brand qualifies HERE.

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“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

Avoid Making the Top 5 Branding Mistakes – #BrandingHangout Replay

Recently BrandTwist Founder & CEO Julie Cottineau joined Terry Byford, Director, Corporate Counsel at Getty Images and iStock’s Sarah Lochting in a live, Google Branding Hangout where they discussed the Top 5 Small Business Branding Mistakes – and wow… what an amazing turnout! There was great feedback and really insightful branding questions from viewers. Big thank you to all who showed up, to Terry, and to Sarah and iStock for hosting.

This Branding Hangout covers:
    •    5 top branding mistakes that could be holding your business back, and even getting you into legal hot water.
    •   Tips on re-branding.
    •    How to develop a killer brand promise.
    •    The difference between b2b and b2c branding.
    •    How to stand out BIG as a small business.

And that’s just a taste – which is why we’re so excited that iStock has made the entire informative, jammed-packed, hour session available to view for FREE. So tune in to the video, above, for ways to grow your brand, expand your reach and avoid potentially costly branding snafus. 

AND, You can keep the branding conversation going by submitting your comments and/or questions here, below, or by using the Twitter hashtag: #BrandingHangout.

Shout out and thank you to @AssyrianKitchenWe just love how she shared her thoughts and takeaways from the Hangout on Twitter:

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@JCottin Just watched Top 5 small business branding mistakes. Great takeaways! Thanks! @istock #BrandingHangout

“Thought a 56 min video was going to be too long, but I was hooked on the practical takeaways from the start! Thanks.”

@iStock @JCottin Invest in “word of eye”, have a strategy first, know your brand promise, think of brands you love & ask, “What would they do?”

We hope you take the opportunity to view the Hangout replay, above, and feel free to share it with others who you feel might benefit from it.

Happy branding!

NOTE: The offer mentioned in the video for a chance to receive 1 of 10 free “Brand Health Checks” from BrandTwist HAS ENDED.  But if you’d like to be notified when the next complimentary 1-0n-1 Health Checks are available, please apply HERE.

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Twisting Book Trailers to Boost Any Business

Book trailers bring big business. These video spots don’t stand out for their star-power alone, but for their formal inventiveness and willingness to take risks as well. In this guest post, Liam Powel shows how your business can take what publishing houses are doing to market their authors and products and apply those same ideas to your business for big marketing and brand-building benefits through video trailers.

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LITTLE FAILURE’S BIG SUCCESS. 

If you’re not up on literature, you may not have heard of Gary Shteyngart, but odds are you will soon.  The quirky satirist – whose novel Super Sad True Love Story garnered him a spot on the New Yorker’s “20 Under 40” list two years ago – is known for his biting wit, bumbling characters, and stunning backdrops. Little Failure, a memoir released early in January, 2014 by Random House, has already garnered glowing reviews, and if history is any guide, sales are radiant as well.

To hype the title, Random House released a “book trailer” – if you’re not familiar with the form, it’s exactly what it sounds like – and Shteyngart’s are grade-A satire. Little Failure has already made a splash because of its star-studded cast, featuring James Franco, Rashida Jones, Alex Karpovsky, and of course, Shteyngart too. Random House, no stranger to the medium or its capacity to push publicity, had previously released a similar trailer for Super Sad – it’s just as hilarious, and can be seen here.

However, these video spots don’t stand out for their star-power alone, which any hefty budget could use to garner attention, but for their formal inventiveness and willingness to take risks as well. This is what we’re interested in. Let’s look at a few lessons from the art of the book trailer that you can apply to your brand and business.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO BREAK NEW GROUND. 

The vast majority of book trailers are fairly one-dimensional, composed of excerpts from a work read over a series of simple images or videos. Few build a narrative, and among the small number that do, fewer still are as cunning or generally well-composed as those for Little Failure or Super Sad.

So aside from it seeming strange, or stunt-ish, for a piece of literary non-fiction to engage potential consumers through such an infrequently, and often ill-used media form, Shteyngart’s piece distinguishes itself for its wryly inventive quality. Particularly when compared to other book trailers, Little Failure’s comes off as sketch comedy, worrying less about clearly pushing the product (the memoir itself) and more about conveying core value propositions in an engagingly slant, indirect way.

So what if you won’t be able to hire out a Hollywood star to shill your brand anytime soon?  This release, Worst Case Scenario Survival Video Series: BREAKUPS, couldn’t either, nor could this Skagboys video, but each crafted compelling content – well within their means – and made efficient, inventive use of a quirky medium to engage their audiences, new and old. The latter trailer, for Skagboys, is particularly on point, a wonderfully executed example of consistent brand identity – note how the skeleton from the video is modeled after the novel’s cover image, and how the whole tone is very much in line with Irvine Welsh’s writing – that only required a Final Cut video editing program and some papier mâché to get up and running.

Sometimes, especially if you’re a solopreneur, all it takes is going the extra mile, even if you have to run it alone.

SO YOU DON’T RUN A PUBLISHING HOUSE? 

Whatever industry your brand is competing in, don’t be afraid to go beyond convention when reaching out to potential consumers. Brands, particularly emerging ones, too often fear venturing beyond a simple benefit analysis or overt calls-to-action while representing themselves – from taglines and logos to small collateral. Slant approaches aren’t only for the industry bigwigs: they can be for everyone, if you’re willing to take the risk.

Successful trailers use inventive, thoughtful approaches to innovating an established medium.  They convey how their product functions, who uses it, and where it’s used to inform and entertain.

What if a video, or a trailer, isn’t right for you? The point is to reach out to your consumers in engaging, surprising, direct ways – trailer or no trailer. Here are a few tips and lessons we can take away from Random House’s – and other’s – use of an innovative form.

  1. Ask yourself: is there a particular aspect of your brand – logo, tone, media presence – you think could benefit from an overhaul or re-imagining? If so, isolate it and take a moment to ask yourself how it could be better and what could be gained by crossing a line of convention here or there.
  2. Think lateral.  Make a list of potential media you’d like to engage in that you haven’t already. Is it video? A social platform? If media isn’t at the forefront of your concerns, what elements of design, or tones of voice, would be exciting and new for you to experiment with?
  3. Spend the time to develop a high concept, and stick with it. Measure twice, cut once.
  4. Think lifestyle and/or novel, layered tones. Slant, or indirect, approaches to brand development aren’t just for established presences in the market – emerging brands can use them too.
  5. Always assume the most of your consumer, and expect the most from your brand.

About the author: 

Liam Powell is Lead Copywriter at Imagemme, a Brand Innovation Lab based in TriBeCa, NYC. He recently received a Masters from Columbia University, where he would catch the occasional glimpse of the man himself – Gary Shteyngart – walking the long, marble halls. You can connect with Liam on Facebook, and on Twitter he is @YazooStScandal (from the Dylan song).

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All Your Burning Brand Questions – Answered!

Sometimes the terms “brand” and “branding” can feel a bit vague or even overwhelming, particularly for those beginning a business, embarking on the entrepreneur track, or looking to refresh their current brand or business.

Branding is often overlooked as an important initial aspect of building a business or re-building an existing one. Many think that “branding” can be added on after the business gets rolling, but the real value of a strong brand goes beyond what the color, logo, or website offer. If you have a clear grasp on who your business is really trying to reach and what you are promising to deliver, you’ll quickly realize the many ways having strong brand can benefit your business, from taking the stress out of daily decisions, to charging a premium for your product or services, to being forgiven by your following for any blunders. You’ll quickly see why a strong brand can be an entrepreneur’s secret weapon.

But how and where do you start formulating your brand?

Do these questions sound familiar:

  • What is a brand?
  • How does having a strong brand help my business?
  • How do I start developing my brand?
  • I’m not a big business, how can I do what the big brands like Starbucks, Virgin and Zappos! do?
  • How can I make my brand work harder to grow my business?

I recently was interviewed by Jennifer Love, Founder of JenniferLove.com and Co-founder & CEO NibMor for her free weekly video interview series that gives tips and information on building business, sales, and product development. I thoroughly enjoyed  sharing answers to her branding questions and giving tips on how knowing your brand well can help in building your business. There are plenty of tips and takeaways in this fun chat, you won’t want to miss it.

As a followup to the video Jennifer and I answered your branding questions in Twitter chat, using the hashtag #Branding101. It was great fun connecting with Jennifer and the Twitter community. You can read takeaways and highlights from our chat HERE.

If you want to receive notification when Jennifer’s new videos go live, sign up at Jennifer’s site HERE, and you’ll also receive access to special information not available to the public.

 

 

 

Why Every Author, Speaker and Expert Needs a Brand Bumper

How do you distinguish your brand and its products and services in a competitive market? One way is to develop a “video brand bumper” that accompanies your every presentation, video, or workshop. Here in this guest post, Dr. Marina Kostina, co-founder of Bookphoria, shares with you more about what a video brand bumper is, why every author, speaker and expert needs one, and a 3-step process to develop an effective bumper for your brand. If you would like to be a guest blogger for BrandTwist contact Jamie@BrandTwist.com for more information.

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While attending a live workshop with branding expert Julie Cottineau, I heard Julie mention a quote from Jay –Z, an American rapper and entrepreneur, who has captured the whole idea of entrepreneural marketing in one sentence: “I’M NOT A BUSINESSMAN – I’M A BUSINESS, MAN!”

Julie also conveyed these additional, evergreen marketing and branding concepts:

  • People connect with people, not with companies.
  • Find out what makes you and your product or services stand out from the crowd.
  • What are your unique features that can be translated into your business to create a personal signature for your products and services?
  • You ARE your business, and every point of interaction with your client needs to breathe YOU.

But in this ever-expanding and competitive marketplace, how do you distinguish yourself, your brand and your products and services?

One way to create a personal digital signature is to develop a “video brand bumper” that accompanies your every presentation, video, or workshop. My business partner and I have been using brand bumpers for our own products for some time and were so enthusiastic about their impact that we developed our own unique bumper production company, Bookphoria. Here in this guest post, we share with you more about what a video brand bumper is, why every author, speaker and expert needs one, and a 3-step process to develop an effective bumper for your brand!
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WHAT IS A VIDEO BUMPER?
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A video bumper is a brief video announcement of your brand. It is usually only between 2 to 15 seconds long. It can contain a voice-over, an image, or a dynamic logo with background music illustrating your brand. You can put this branded piece of video at the top of your presentation as an introduction and you can also include it at the tail of your video marketing as well, to give you a professional edge.
Bumpers have a recurring signature or theme music segment and can vary in style from simple text to short films. The most well-known video bumpers are of those from the movie studios such as Dreamworks, Miramax or Columbia, as seen in this preview.

Now, as an author, speaker or expert you need to consider developing a video bumper for yourself too.
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WHY DO YOU NEED A VIDEO BRAND BUMPER?
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  • Bumpers are a great way to build brand awareness and attract audience to your book or your product. They allow your audience to recognize you even BEFORE your presentation or show begins! In short, they tell a stronger personal brand story.
  • Bumpers help you stand out from competition and give your more authority and prestige. The use of bumpers for personal branding is still something different and therefore super fun, just like e-mail was in its early days.
  • With bumpers you can have more impact as they capture the essence of your book/ content or brand and create a filter through which your audience views your materials.

THE HOW’S:

Here is a 3-step process that will help you to develop an effective video brand bumper:

1.       Tell your core message.

What makes you stand out from the crowd? You must be very clear and clever to find laser-focused concepts that can be turned into a visual summary of the core principle of your book, content or brand in a quick, 15-20 second bumper.

For example, in our own Bookphoria bumper we illustrate how a book comes alive through images of vines growing from the book, the logo color changes and the dramatic music. We want our audience to see that they become not only writers of their content and their books but also producers, actors and high tech designers.

In the bumper for her own company, Brain Alchemist, Anastasia Pryanikova demonstrates the power of brain and technology. Her core message is to rewire your brain to speak your mind and be heard… you literally see and feel how the brain is rewired in this beautiful bumper.

2. Use every detail to support your core message.

We live in the time when quick-paced technology-based markets need what BrandTwist founder and CEO Julie Cottineau calls ‘Word of Eye’ – where people share not only words, but pictures, images and photos. These digital bites are created, sent and shared through social networks with incredible speed. This is the new currency of news and information. Nowadays, not only must you have a visual representation of your brand but you also need to select all the images you share very carefully to truly stand out from the crowd. Everything in your bumper: color, music, even the animation and type, must support the image and feeling you want to project.

Let’s look at the bumper that I created for my company, Wired@Heart. My main goal is to help small business owners build connections and engagement online. Therefore, my choice of colors are warm and the sparkles and animation – as well as the music – in this video all create a deeper sense of warmth, connection and interaction.

3.       Create a movie-like quality.

Your digital bumper is the FIRST thing the audience will notice about you. Your bumper MUST be of high quality. A professionally done bumper will increase your prestige, the value of your products and thus help build your clients’ trust in you and your services. Unfortunately, the cost of creating a professionally produced bumper is usually very high; it entails finding a personal branding consultant who can advise you on what type of message to portray in your bumper, a designer who can develop all images, and animator and/or a developer. Paying for these services could be very costly.

An alternative is to try to develop a bumper yourself by using pre-made samples that usually run for $300-400 each. The beauty is that you don’t need to know anything about development or animation. You just plug in your title into a template and voila! However, they do not allow for true customization, and you will probably end up with an unoriginal bumper shared by many other authors and experts.

Introducing the good news…

Our company, Bookphoria. Because we frequently used video bumpers for our own products, we became frustrated with the limited resources available to us to easily and cost-efficiently produce our bumpers, so we created our own production company. Since Bookphoria is a full service company that is dedicated SPECIFICALLY to authors and experts who want to market their content, we cut your costs of having to hire a brand consultant, a designer and a developer – we handle and create everything for you. We meet for a brief FREE one-on-one consultation to determine your needs, your core message and your unique angle. We then develop all elements for your bumper and design it to truly be yours. In fact, we make as many samples of the bumper as you need until you find THE PERFECT ONE, along with a 100% guarantee on all products we develop.

Whatever method you choose to produce your video brand bumper, remember that your video needs to represent YOU as well as your business, products and services and also needs to quickly communicate your core brand message to stand out, connect and be remembered. Video is now more accessible than ever. Make it work for your brand and business.

EVEN BETTER NEWS FOR FRIENDS OF BRANDTWIST:

Marina and Anastasia of Bookphoria want to help you make your books and expert content come alive and change lives!  For a limited time, they are making available to friends of BrandTwist a special offer: You can still enjoy their New Year’s promotion and get your video brand bumper for only $200 until February 15, 2014. This includes a free 1-on-1 consultation, design, music, animation, development, and free samples until you are satisfied with the end result!  They cannot wait to put their creative hats on and develop a killer bumper for your book and your brand.

As you can imagine, they have a high volume of orders for this amazing product. To secure your spot, please sign up for your Free 1-1 consultation today. Put “book bumper” into the topic of the form – Sign up HERE.

 About the authors:

MarinaDr. Marina Kostina is a founder of Wired@Heart, a distance learning consulting company, an Amazon Bestselling author, winner of STARTALK, the Oppenheimer Family Foundation grant, and a nominee for the Golden Apple Award. She has presented her research at various national and international conferences that provided insights to thousands professionals on how to build online connection, presence, engagement and enjoyment.
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anastasiaAnastasia Pryanikova, M.A., J.D. is the founder of E-Studio, LLC, a coaching, training and consulting company that translates neuroscience and media psychology insights into tools and solutions in the areas of communication, conflict management, public speaking, presenting, and transmedia storytelling. She is a speaker and a Certified World Class Speaking Coach, trained by Craig Valentine, World Champion of Public Speaking for Toastmasters International.

 

Both Marina and Anastasia are co-founders of Bookphoria - an innovative online and mobile learning platform that enables authors, speakers and experts to turn their books and content into dynamic, interactive online courses and multimedia products and grow their information business and communities of practice. Discover more about Bookphoria and connect with Marina and Anastasia through the Bookphoria Facebook page, on Twitter at @bookphoria or via email: info@bookphoria.com.

KFC: There’s No Such Thing as Local Ads

Check out this KFC spot from Australia.

It was supposed to be a local spot playing off of the cricket rivalry between the West Indies and Australia.

But it’s gotten a lot of flack from viewer’s in the US who got wind of it over the Internet.

A white spectator finds himself in an all black crowd and smooths over what he calls an “awkward situation” with a bucket of fried chicken.

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