Quit Your Job and Make Your Old Company Your First New Client

Recently I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Brian F. Martin, host of  Brand Connections Brand Fast-Trackers.

We talked about what makes a successful brand and many of the core tenets I learned from my 22+ years in branding, particularly my time working as VP of Brand for Virgin.

A few highlights that I expand on in the podcast:

  • A clear core promise is essential
  • Your brand is the product/experience you’re offering and must deliver on its promise
  • You need to embrace and learn from failure
  • Know your brand framework and stay true to who you are

We also talked about what it takes to leave your job and make the big leap from being an employee to being an entrepreneur. You may be surprised by what I said. Most people think they need to hide their aspirations of starting their own company from their boss until they are ready to hand in their resignation. My experience at Virgin was the exact opposite. I made my intentions clear months before I left Virgin and was able to walk out the door with my boss’ blessing and Virgin as one of my first clients for my new company BrandTwist.

You can read Kat Krieger’s summary of the interview and listen to or download the podcast at the Brand Connections website HERE.

Agency vs. Client: What’s the Best Fit For You?

This post, Agency vs. Client: What’s the Best Fit For You? is another in our series providing insight and action steps for those seeking a career in branding. Julie Cottineau gives her top tips and shares insights from her 25+ years at great companies such as Grey, Interbrand and Virgin. You can read more entries in this Career series HERE

Here’a a question I get a lot:

Should I work for an Agency or a Brand?

This is a tough one. There is no one right answer. I’ve been lucky enough to work on both sides of the branding aisle and I think like most career paths, there is no right or wrong path. Just the path you choose.

But I can tell you that from my perspective, if you are interested in an agency role, it’s good to pursue this at the beginning of your career.

Agency jobs can be tough. The pay (especially at the beginning) is low and the hours are long. But, at the right Agency, you will learn a lot. So if you are interested in trying the Agency side, it’s often best to invest this time early in your career when normally you have less obligations (mortgage, spouse, kids) and can put in the long hours and be less concerned about the pay.

In contrast, the relatively shorter and more predictable hours of a client-side job can often fit your lifestyle better when kids enter the picture.

I also believe one benefit of working on the Agency side is that by being accountable to a client, you can learn a great deal about program management and meeting management skills. As an Assistant Account Executive at Grey, I learned how to be very buttoned-up. I had to make sure everyone was prepared for meetings and we weren’t wasting the client’s time. Agendas went out with meeting invites, materials were prepared and next steps were clearly outlined in meeting reports. This kind of discipline, learned early on, stayed with me and was helpful as I advanced through my career.

You can also learn this on the Client side, but often meetings are a bit more casual. At least this was my experience at Virgin- but also at many Clients that I worked for as an Agency partner.
[sc:optin]
The other aspect that I loved about working on the Agency side was the exposure to different accounts and business challenges. You don’t always get that when you sign on early with a client that works in one category.

So there are a  lot of plusses about the Agency side, but here’s one tick in favor of a Client job…if you are really interested in the business side of marketing you will likely learn more about this if you are on the Client side. This isn’t to say that Agency people don’t do a good job of learning about their Client’s businesses. They do. But in my experience, no matter how close an Agency partner is, its still not the same as being on the inside and hearing first hand all of the business and financial conversations – and being truly held accountable for business results.

My 5 + years at Virgin was like getting my MBA. I became much more comfortable and familiar with different business terms and business models. I saw first hand the impact of different marketing decisions. From a much closer perspective than I ever had on the Agency side. I also learned how to be more accountable for my creative ideas. I couldn’t propose solutions that were going to cost a lot without thinking about how we would make the cost up in additional revenue. This might sound like a constraint, but it actually made me make sure my creative ideas were more sound, and in turn, they had a better chance of being implemented.

So what’s the right fit for you? It’s hard to say. One way to make the choice is to think about where you see yourself in 5-10 years. If you have any ambitions of someday starting your own business, then I would say it’s really important to get some experience on the Client side. Even if you have an MBA from a top school – there’s really no substitute for in market experience.

And if you are thinking of becoming an entrepreneur or are already building a business, our highly effective, premier branding program, Brand will give you the insight and tools you need to get the job done. Receive more information about Brand School’s next session and get 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.

“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

Branding: An Entrepreneur’s Secret Weapon, smallbizdaily

Recently I had the pleasure of being interviewed about entrepreneurship and business branding by author, columnist and online talk show host Jane Applegate for her column in smallbizdaily, “The Applegate Report.”

smallbizdaily is an online publication dedicated to Ideas, Insights. Information and Inspiration for Entrepreneurs.

Among the questions Jane asked were:

  • How do you define “brand”? Isn’t it just a company logo?
  • What is the biggest mistake business owners make when it comes to branding?
  • What advice do you have for entrepreneurs just starting a business?

That’s just for starters.

You can check out smallbizdaily and read the entire interview HERE.

BrandTwist’s highly effective, premier branding program, Brand School, will give you tools to develop your brand, innovate your business and engage your customers.  Receive more information about Brand School’s next session and get free brand-building tools and tips when you join our mailing list.

“I highly recommend this 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

bt-health-check-2

Cultivate Your Personal Brand to Land That Job

This post, Cultivate Your Personal Brand to Land That Job, is another in our series providing insight and action steps for those seeking a career in branding. Julie Cottineau gives her top tips and shares insights from her 25+ years at great companies such as Grey, Interbrand and Virgin. You can read more entries in this Career series HERE

 

Whether you realize it or not, you are a brand. 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.

Like professional brand-building, your personal brand needs management. You need to actively build, manage and update your personal profiles. Make sure you frequently Google yourself (you can bet prospective employers will) and work toward presenting a professional image.

But beyond professional, you should be able to get across a sense of your passion for branding and marketing.  A great way to start is to perform a SWOT analysis on the brand of YOU. In this exercise you identify your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats and create a plan on how to continue to build your personal assets and close any credibility gaps.

For example:  you say you are passionate about brands on your resume, but are there examples to support this?

Take action to close this gap. Some examples of how you can do this: update your Linkedin profile to include brands that you are passionate about. Start a branding blog or comment/guest blog for others. Create a professional Twitter account that tweets about new and interesting brands and/or re-tweets interesting branding articles from others. Join any branding, marketing, or entrepreneur clubs at school. Intern or volunteer for a brand you are passionate about.

Read more about Making Your Brand Personal HERE.

Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program will give you the insight and tools you need to express your professional and personal brands.  Receive more information about Brand School’s next session and get 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.

“Julie gave great examples in Brand School that  inspired me to think outside the box. I especially appreciate her attention to everyone’s brands and her insightful comments. Thank you!” – Jamie Lacroix, Marketing Department for a Non-profit 

Land the Job: Bring Your Experience Off the Page!

This post, Land the Job: Bring Your Experience Off the Page! is another in our series providing insight and action steps for those seeking a career in branding. Julie Cottineau gives her top tips and shares insights from her 25+ years at great companies such as Grey, Interbrand and Virgin. You can read more entries in this Career series HERE

One of the most important challenges to landing a job in branding is knowing how to make sure you stand out. Chances are there are more than a few candidates vying for the same internship or full time job that you’ve got your eye on.

Having been on the hiring side many times, I can tell you that after a while the stream of candidates becomes a blur. One thing that helps a candidate stand out is to have a presentation of his or her experience. I call this a “visual resume.” By that I simply mean: a well-designed, clean PDF that brings some of the examples in your resume to life. For example:

  • Spent a summer as an intern at a local agency? Put a screen grab of that agency’s logo and some of the key projects/brands you were involved with on a page. Make sure you don’t show anything that the Agency or their clients would consider confidential (when in doubt ask).

Help your prospective employer visualize your experience.

  • Ran the marketing for one of your school’s events? Show pictures from the day and include stats about how many people you reached etc.

Unless you’ve worked on mega brands like Coke and Nike, it’s going to take your interviewer a few minutes to really understand what you are talking about and determine if the experience is relevant to what he or she is looking for. Help them make the leap more quickly by brining the examples to life. To that end, make sure you are taking pictures at any school events, and scanning the covers and key pages of any relevant projects (like a marketing class project where you had to come up with ideas for a new brand).

Another effective thing that you can do which shows your interest in the job is do an informal customer experience audit before the interview and bring your findings with you.

When I was interviewing to be the VP of Brand at Virgin, I did my own desktop audit of the Virgin brand – I looked at the websites of each of the individual brands in the Virgin family and I did an informal survey about what the brand stood for among people in what I perceived to be their target market. I presented these “findings” along with some initial suggestions on how to address the brand’s challenges as part of my interview. I didn’t present it as in-depth research, just a conversation starter. But it did show that I wasn’t just saying I was interested in working there; I was proving it through a bit of extra research. And the rest is history…

Think about putting in a little extra work prior to your interview and be prepared to share a point of view. You don’t have to be “right” in your learning, just as long as you can demonstrate a solid thought process. It will also help you gauge how open your potential employer is to suggestions. Receive more tips and techniques on how to do this in our post HERE.

Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program, gives you the tools and techniques you need to keep your brand shining through and standing out. Receive more information about Brand School’s next session and get 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.

“Brand School had great examples of real companies. I was able to dig even deeper, think of things in a new way, and get new ideas for my brand.It was well worth the fee.” – Brenda Dillion Cavette, Founder Fashionista Tea