Julie Cottineau

Posts by Julie Cottineau

‘Tis the Season to Build your Brand

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We know the holidays are a bit crazy, but they are also a great time to connect with customers and clients and build your brand. In case you missed some of  our recent entries, here is a re-cap of a few seasonal posts to inspire you:

‘Tis the season! Creating a gift guide for your business is a great way to explore what your brand really stands for and is a nice twist on reinforcing your brand values – plus, it’s fun to do! This post from BrandTwist guest blogger and Company B founder, Bonnie Rothman Morris, was inspired by Seth Godin and gives tips on how to create one for your business. Check out “Your Brand Needs a Gift Guide.” 

Amidst the chaos that is the holiday season is can be tough to make your brand stand out among the rest. This doesn’t always require innovative creativity or a hefty marketing budget. Here is a guest post from marketer Alice Jenkins giving four cost-effective ways to market your brand this holiday season that will both show good character and expose your brand to the masses, “Marketing Your Brand for The Holidays.”

Holidays, and especially holiday gift giving, can be extremely taxing. This year why not take a step back and create something special? Catch these “5 Creative Gifts that Won’t Break the Bank.”

Many companies engage in the practice of sending holiday greetings (print or emails) to colleagues, clients, partners and prospects. But what does your holiday card really say about your brand? After all, it’s not just a card it’s a communication vehicle. Here’s what we did while I was working as V.P. of Brand at Virgin, “What Your Holiday Card Says About Your Brand.”

The holidays are about connecting to one another, and a personal brand is an aspect of branding that can often go overlooked, even though it’s incredibly important in business. Whether you’re looking to use your personal brand to get a job, are launching your own business, or want to strengthen your existing business, building a strong personal brand will help you to transform your passions and personality into a brand that works for you. Don’t miss these three essential tips to building “The Brand of YOU.”

Stay warm and keep TWISTING!

“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

Marketing Your Brand Throughout the Holidays

Marketing Your Brand Throughout the Holidays, from Alice Jenkins, gives 4 ways your business can make the most of the holiday season (or any season!) to make your brand stand out. This is another in our guest blogger seriesRead more about Alice in her bio below. If you would like to be a guest blogger for BrandTwist contact Jamie@BrandTwist.com for more information.

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Amidst the chaos that is the holiday season it can be tough to make your brand stand out among the rest. This doesn’t always require innovative creativity or a hefty marketing budget. For the businesses that don’t exactly have a million-dollar budget to air commercials, take up billboard space, and buy every piece of ad-space on the internet, the key to marketing your brand is variety. Here are four cost-effective ways to market your brand this holiday season that will both show good character and expose your brand to the masses:

1. Parades

If there is any kind of parade coming through your town you must be a part of it. Make it a point to get the employees together and build a float that plays off of your particular line of business. Holiday parades receive a relatively large amount of media coverage by their community and if you were to win an award for your float you could receive even more coverage.

2. Branded Item Giveaways

The holiday season is a time of giving. Let your customers know you appreciate their business by giving away a free branded gift with every purchase. For a business the most effective gifts for marketing are the ones that are directly useful during the holiday season. Branded ornaments to hang from the tree, branded pens to sign cards or gift tags with, probably the most underutilized promotional item of the winter; hand warmers. Read more about effective use of SWAG here.

3. Social Media/Website

Customize your webpage with a winter or holiday-themed background. Add mistletoe here, a few snowflakes there; remember your website is an extension of your place of business. Imagine if someone walked into your store and saw nothing to evoke holiday cheer. Constantly update your social media page and let your followers know the most recent deals, hours of business, and any other happenings.

4. Charity

So many businesses fail to see how well a charity fundraiser at their place of business can market their brand and attract new customers. Offer discounts to those who donate a certain amount of food or money to a philanthropy organization. It will establish great public relations for your brand and potentially lure new customers to your establishment.

Parades and social media may seem be the meat of the marketing plate here but don’t neglect the value of good public relations through charity and showing appreciation to your loyal customers with giveaways.

About guest blogger Alice Jenkins: 

Alice Jenkins is a marketing writer for the custom pens supplier, Pensxpress. She enjoys helping small businesses come up with new and innovative methods to get their brand out there amidst the holiday cheer. On Twitter she’s @alicejenkins37.

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Stand Out in a Bag Full of SWAG

Creative twists on how to make SWAG unique and our business get noticed. This entry, Stand Out in a Bag Full of SWAG, from Julie Hartwell, is another in our guest blogger seriesRead more about Julie in her bio below. If you would like to be a guest blogger for BrandTwist contact Jamie@BrandTwist.com for more information.

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Everyone loves free stuff. This idea was reinforced recently when I took my 11 year old nephew to the local county fair. There were carnival rides, games, sheep, pigs, and chickens. My nephew was politely interested in all these things but made it increasingly clear to me that he wanted to make sure we went to the Expo Center. It was full of businesses getting their brand out there. What did he want from this building? In a word: S.W.A.G. (Stuff We All Get). He couldn’t get enough branded business pens.

Often it doesn’t even matter who it’s from or what it is. If someone is giving you something with more utility than a brochure, you’ll most likely accept it and be happy. In this respect, pens are great, but you want to do more. Your SWAG needs to stand out as much as you want your business to.

A Case Study of a Successful SWAG Campaign:

Everyone expects to get T-shirts and beverage koozies from companies at promotional events. So is it any surprise that, when people receive average SWAG, it’s not at all exciting?

An analytics startup called Spinnakr realized this, and wanted to do things differently. When Twitter users tweeted about “Shades of Fame”, they would receive their own pair of branded shades in the mail soon after. This is what Spinnakr did right:

  1. It required a commitment on behalf of the potential customer to get the SWAG. It’s always better when you have to work for it right?
  2. Spinnakr used the SWAG to get recognition through social media. If you’re going to give away something for free, make sure you get a return on your investment.
  3. The SWAG was something their target consumers wanted. No one wants another refrigerator magnet. How about a pair of turquoise hipster shades? Umm, yes please!

Create your own SWAG

You’ve made the decision to create your own SWAG, and to do it differently. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Make it useful! SWAG does no one any good if it is useless and forgotten.
  • Be mindful of the industry you are promoting. A cloud storage promoter probably wouldn’t give away branded thumb drives.
  • Be like Spinnakr: make the consumer work for it. You’d be surprised at what people will do for free stuff.
  • Go small for a big return. No one wants to carry a spare tire around with them. It will also help your bottom line; small is cheap.
  • Make sure your SWAG is in line with the ethics of your business. PETA wouldn’t give away leather bound notebooks.
  • Make your brand visible. Even branded underwear will get seen by one person if the brand is prominently displayed.
  • Turn your SWAG into SWAGGER! Be confident in your SWAG. Give yourself an outgoing brand personality. Enthusiasm is infectious, and will really transfer through to the consumer.

About guest blogger Julie Hartwell:

Julie Hartwell is a marketing consultant and fashionista who loves a good campaign almost as much as she loves free stuff. On Twitter she’s @JulieHartwell23.

See if your business qualifies for a BRAND HEALTH CHECK STRATEGY SESSION with Brand School founder Julie Cottineau:

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Thanksgiving Traditions

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The strongest brands have rituals. What’s the Thanksgiving ritual for your family’s “Brand”? Here’s ours:

Not to sound too much like a fiddler on the roof…

but I think that Traditions are extremely important.

They help mark events and give meaning through repetition.

One of our favorite Thanksgiving traditions is called a “Thankful Box”.

It’s a plain box we’ve decorated with fall colors and the words “Thankful Box” on the top.

Before the meal each person writes down a few things that they are thankful for.

The Brand of YOU

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“I’M NOT A BUSINESSMAN/I’M A BUSINESS, MAN!” – Jay-Z

Jay-Z got it right. That’s what personal branding is all about. It’s not only your commercial brand that delivers a message to the marketplace; YOU do, too!

Maybe you’ve already worked on branding your business, but have you built a personal brand?  A personal brand is an aspect of branding that can often go overlooked, even though it’s incredibly important in business.

When you are competing for a job it is not just about your education and your skills, it is also about what’s unique in the way you think, the way you work and the things that you are passionate about. People hire people, not resumes.

Whether you’re looking to use your personal brand to get a job, are launching your own business, or want to strengthen your existing business, building a strong personal brand will help you to transform your passions and personality into a brand that works for you.

What is a personal brand? Personal branding describes the process by which individuals and entrepreneurs differentiate themselves and stand out from a crowd.

Having a strong personal brand can help you

  • gain more confidence
  • feel more empowered to charge a premium for your valued services
  • stand out from the competition.
  • enhance your recognition as an expert in your field

Here are three necessary key steps to begin building your personal brand:

1. Tell Your Personal Story – What Makes You Tick

A great brand is a story well told. I often relate how I am the unofficial inventor of the “Pet Rock.” Having a brother who is highly allergic to animals we were never permitted to have a pet; so I created a pet by placing a rock in a Cool Whip container. I put grass in so it could “eat” and poked holes in the lid so my rock could “breathe.” My parents were relieved to see me satisfied with my “pet”. A decade goes by and Gary Dahl is listening to friends complain about their pets getting sick, costing money and taking up their time. He jokingly mentions that a rock would make the ideal pet because it would not need care, make demands or involve emotional attachment. Out of a joke the Pet Rock is born – and he makes millions.

Relating a story like this instantly communicates several things about me and my business. It’s a memorable story which means that I, too, am more likely to be remembered. It speaks to a key tennant of my business: how innovative thinking and taking action, even on ideas we might be inclined to discard, can lead to tremendous success.

2. Link Your Personal Story to Professional Expertise

Richard Branson used his daredevil personality to create buzz around his fledging Virgin brand through stunts like crossing the Atlantic in a Virgin branded hot air balloon. Blake Mycoskie turned a passion for helping poor children in Argentina into the thriving TOM’S footwear brand. UNREAL candy started with a question from a 13-year old kid, “Why does the junk food we love have to be so bad for us?” That question became a mission and a “healthier” candy company was born.

Other well-known examples of linking personal stories with expertise are inventor Sir James Dyson who revolutionized the vacuum cleaner and created Dyson Limited. As the brand was just getting started, Dyson appeared in every advertisement together with his machines.  Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream who brought the “chunk” into ice cream and put “local” and social responsibility on everyone’s radar. They, too, are featured prominently on each ice cream carton.

These successful brands are practically inseparable from the personal brands that created them. Find your unique twist and don’t be shy about linking it with your business.

3. Use Every Touch Point for Your Brand.

Think of every point that a customer comes into contact with you as a chance to communicate your personal brand. Use those moments to make yourself and your business more memorable. Even little moments can have a big impact. The colors of my company, BrandTwist, are pink and purple. When I speak at conferences, I have a little purple bucket that people can deposit their business cards in. It’s a small touch, but goes a long way in reinforcing the brand of “me.”

The social media manager at Virgin Active SA had the following job description in his email signature: Social Media Ninja!  This makes an immediate, enjoyable impact that speaks to the whimsy of the Virgin brand and will long be remembered.

Consider other ways you can stand out besides the usual stationery and business cards. Perhaps you become known for a particular color or an accessory that  is always present in some fashion. Put a twist in your voice mail message. Create a unique salutation.

As an entrepreneur, independent contractor, artist, job seeker or corporate business executive, you are a brand.  As Richard Branson notes, “When you are running a business, the most powerful advertising asset you have is yourself.”

What’s your brand YOU story and how will you use it boost your business?

Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program, delivers the tools and steps you need to strengthen your brand and your connection to your customers. Get our free brand-building tips and receive access to updates about Brand School’s exclusive programs when you sign up for our newsletter at BrandSchoolOnline.com.

“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