‘Word of Eye’ Is Key to Success in Branding Today

(Image credit: AFP/Getty Images via @daylife)

Forbes columnist Allen Adamson recently came to BrandTwist founder Julie Cottineau for her input regarding the latest digital technology trends and their impact on brands and marketing. She provided insight on how brands like Virgin America use strong visual branding to get their brand story across; and how it’s important to have brand signatures and images be click, shoot and send worthy. In today’s quick-paced technology based markets, it’s even more critical to utilize what Julie calls ‘Word of Eye’ to remain in the forefront of consumer thinking. ‘Word of Eye’ is not only the current trend, but the wave of the future as well.

Read the full article by Allen Adamson on Forbes.com:  Virgin, Disney, Apple Know ‘Word of Eye’ Is Key to Success in Branding Today

What brands have you seen that successfully leverage “Word of Eye”?


Brand School our highly effective, premier branding program, will give you the tools you need to develop your branding word and Word of Eye skills. Receive more information about Brand School’s next session and get 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

Network More Effectively to Land the Job

This post, Network More Effectively to Land the 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

Okay, I’ve got to admit this particular subject is one I am pretty passionate about. It’s one of my pet peeves… lazy networking.

I get so many correspondences from students that go something like this…

Dear Ms. Cottineau,

I heard you speak in my class and I am very interested in a career in branding. I was hoping we could have lunch and you could tell me about your background and your experience. Looking forward to hearing from you.”


Interested (but lazy) Student

What’s wrong with this approach? So many things:

  • It lacks specifics.
  • It lacks focus.
  • It shows a lack of commitment.
  • It also, frankly, is a bit lacking in respect for my time.

If you are really that interested in connecting with me here’s how you can let me know you really care: 1) do your homework, 2) show your commitment and, 3) make it easier for me to help you.

I am interested in helping – I took the time from my work schedule to come speak at your University and share my knowledge and experience with you. But in this kind of lazy networking email… you are making me do all the work.


Here’s a version that is more likely to get a response:

Dear Ms. Cottineau,

I was really inspired by the talk you gave in Professor X’s class last week. You might remember me, I was the student in the front row that raised my hand and asked you about X. After your lecture, I went on to the Virgin website to educate myself more about the 360-degree approach to branding that you shared with us. I found the recent campaign for Virgin America particularly impactful because of XYZ.

I also joined your mailing list, liked your Facebook page, and am now following your blog and re-tweeting your branding insights on Twitter. I did some research about you online and I am really fascinated by your background. Like you, I have the desire to work in Europe and I am also a big believer in lateral twists. In fact, I thought you might enjoy the attached article on inspiration from this month’s issue of Fast Company. Here is a link. I am not sure if you saw it, but if you find it interesting, perhaps you might enjoy sharing it with your Facebook or Twitter followers.

I am reaching out with a very specific request that I hope won’t take up much of your valuable time. I am a third year student looking for a summer internship at a mid-sized digital agency in NYC. I have narrowed my list to a top 5.  I was hoping I could get any perspective you might have on these agencies and ask if you have any contacts that you might be willing to forward my resume and cover letter to (See attached). I would also love to hear if you think I have left any agencies out of this top 5 list that you think should be there.

I’d love to get your feedback in whatever way is most convenient for you. Can we schedule a 15-minute chat next Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday at 9am? If not, is there a more convenient time? My number is xxx. If it’s easier for you, I’d also appreciate any thoughts you have by email.

Thank you in advance for your inspiration. I am sure you must get hundreds of request like this a day. I assure you, I will pay your generosity forward some day.


Mr./Ms. Student More Likely to Get a Response

What’s smarter about this approach?

  • The student shows commitment by doing their homework.
  • They show loyalty and interest in helping me grow my brand.
  • Their request is specific and manageable.
  • The next steps are clear and easy for me to follow-up on.
Take the time to do your homework, and your request has a better chance of breaking through and getting answered. Make sense?
Want more answers? Just let us know your additional questions in the comments section below.
Check out the next post in our series: Land the Job: Bring Your Experience Off the Page!

Brand School, our premier branding program, will give you the tools you need to develop your branding creativity and skills. Receive updates 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.


“I learned a lot from Brand School.  It inspired me to think outside the box. I have a much deeper understanding of how to effectively build a brand.” – Mike Sass, Entrepreneur

Try to Get Fired

This post is part of our series, “Thirteen Tips For Stronger Branding.” See the rest of the series HERE.


Often, we are our own worst enemies. We come up with a fresh idea, then immediately censor it. “What if my boss doesn’t like it?” “What if it fails and I get fired?” This kind of thinking blocks innovation and is actually hindering your productivity and growth, whether you know it or not.

To snap out of the mindset you’re currently in, I encourage you to try this exercise. Start brainstorming new ideas, and make the objective of your brainstorming to think specifically of ones that would get you fired. I’m not talking about spreading company gossip on your Facebook page or throwing up on the CEO at your holiday party (Yikes. Did anyone actually do that?). I’m also definitely not encouraging you to actually get fired; work experience and a 401K is sometimes too valuable to just give up.

I’m talking about creating an idea that deliberately takes you out of your habitual comfort zone. By thinking in this way, going to the extreme opposite of what’s expected, you actually ladder up your thinking. You might just come up with a nugget of an idea that’s pitch-worthy, even brilliant and highly-marketable. Read more on this creative-thinking technique here. 

Check out tip #6 in the series, Fail Harder.



For more actionable strategies, sign up for Brand School, the premier program that  teaches you how to grow your business by growing a stronger brand. From bull’s eye targeting to strategic social media and more – Brand School shares current best practices from Virgin and the world’s best brands  and teaches you how to apply these lessons to your business for greater impact from day one. To receive up to date news of the next semester and special offers for BrandTwist social media friends, sign up for the BrandTwist newsletter HERE

“I learned a lot from Brand School.  It inspired me to think outside the box. I have a much deeper understanding of how to effectively build a brand.” – Mike Sass, Entrepreneur


A Rise in Booty Branding?

I am wondering if this is a new trend. Part of a recession-reaction, devil may care “bigger is better” attitude.

Today, I learned (quite by coincidence) about two different brands in two radically different categories celebrating the power of the posterior.

The first was Bootie Babe, a line of cosmetics in derriere shaped bottles.

The second is Big Ass Fans. A line of ceiling fans that look rather mainstream (apart from the donkey logo and the name).

Celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez and Beyonce have brought this body shape back (no pun intended) in recent years.

I just hadn’t seen it being leveraged by brands.

Maybe it’s time to bring back the vintage Coppertone ads?

Is this just a blip on the cultural radar or are we in for an onslaught of “bootylicious” brands?

That’s my point of view. What’s your twist?
Which brands will be next in line to shake their booty?

5 Ways a Strong Brand Can Ignite your Small Business

Over the 5 years I worked for Virgin in the U.S. development office, I met some amazing entrepreneurs and small business owners.

These folks, I’m convinced, have a different genetic code than the average business person. They have an amazing ability not just to identify gaps in the marketplace, and new ideas…but to act on them.

Being a successful entrepreneur is not easy. It takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears. And most of all it takes a kind of blind faith, to believe in yourself and your product or service and to get up every morning and keep it moving forward despite (many) obstacles and better resourced market incumbents.

But here’s one thing that I think a lot of start up ventures are missing…a smarter approach to branding.

For many new companies, “brand development” consists of thinking up a name and a logo and focusing on getting a website up and running.

While these are important elements, they miss the more fundamental role and purpose  of branding: to help connect with your consumers on a deeper level, build preference and loyalty and set you apart from your competition. If done right, a well-developed brand should influence every single business decision you make.

If you are a small business owner or entrepreneur and are interested in learning more practical ways to build your brand, you should consider attending the annual NYXPO at the Jacob Javits in NYC. I have spoken there before, and it’s a fantastic opportunity to network and receive great insight.  Click here to Register

In the meantime, Here are 5 thoughts on how a strong Brand can ignite your business:.

A Strong Brand Idea can help you:

1. Attract the Right Kind of Investor

2. Make Sure You Have a Well Defined Target Audience

3. Develop Products and Services Faster and with More Discipline

4. Create Brand Expressions that Cut Through (with less spending)

5. Stay On Course as the Company Grows
 Keep reading »

1. A strong Brand can help you attract the right kind of partners and investors. “Dumb money” can be fairly easy to find. But “Smart Money” is harder. But it’s better. Because it means you’ve found  backers who are on the same page and share the same philosophy. They are more likely to give you on-going advice and be supportive of your need to build a strong business and brand.  A well thought out and presented Brand can help you attract the right people on the right terms. It can also help cut through the 1,000’s of pitches that VC’s and another investor see on a regular basis. It can make your venture more memorable and interesting.

2. Developing a strong Brand forces you to make some tough calls about your target audience and to really make sure there is a well-defined and substantial market for your venture.  Too often we fall so in love with our own ideas that we don’t stop to question if there are other people (besides our mom and college roommate) who would also be a receptive , paying audience for our product or service. Brands don’t exist if there is no one out there willing to buy them. If they are not answering an unmet need or addressing a current need in a better way. Brand Idevelopment makes you go through the process of identifying your target audience, understanding what motivates them, and making sure your idea answers their needs in a way that is relevant and different from current options. You’d be surprised at home many people short change this step…with pretty disastrous results. “If we build it, they will come” may work for Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, but it can be an arrogant and costly mistake for many entrepreneurs. 

3. A Strong Brand can help you develop your product and services faster and with more discipline.  One of the biggest challenges facing small businesses is to stay on track. It’s hard, to know which opportunities to pursue, and which ones to pass on. Particularly when you don’t have the structure and decision making processes of a large company. A well defined Brand should be used as a continual, actionable filter to review everything: products, partnerships, people for fit to your core values. If they don’t fit, even if they have merit, then pass.

4. Well defined Brand Ideas are the cornerstone of great brand expressions that cut through. So many entrepreneurs that I have met and/or worked with spend hours of wasted (precious) time going in circles about the name, logo and marketing materials of the company. But often the reason they can’t decide or seem to get what they are looking for isn’t that they are using the wrong creative resources. It’s that they haven’t defined the Idea behind the creative. They think they will know something good when they see it. But 10 years of running Naming and Consumer Branding at Interbrand has driven home how subjective the creative process can be. Having a strong Brand promise translates into tighter, better creative briefs which translates into better creative- with fewer (time, money and energy sapping) rounds of iteration and evaluation. And once you have this strong Brand expressions developed, chances are they will cut through in the marketplace and amplify the always too limited spending of entrepreneurial brands.

5. A Strong Brand will help you navigate the growing pains as your entrepreneurial venture expands from a two to twenty to two hundred employees.  Having a tacit understanding of what the Brand stands for and where it should and shouldn’t go is often ok when you can fit all of your brand stakeholders around your kitchen table. But what happens as you grow? How do you efficiently and effectively on-board more people quickly and make sure that they have the same understanding as the original 5 members? How do you make sure you expanding workforce of brand ambassadors is putting out a consistent message to the marketplace? We encountered this same issue at Virgin as the brand began to grow particularly in the United States. We finally decided it was time to take some of the “gut” knowledge and put it down in writing. With an articulated Brand Idea,  Brand Pillars and some training tools such as identity, tone of voice and launch documents. This didn’t mean we were turning “corporate”. It just meant we were getting smarter about sharing our Brand knowledge and DNA with new members of the family.

Fundamental Brand building, particularly paying attention to defining your target audience and your Brand Idea (not just what products you offer, but the emotional benefit of engaging with your brand) can be a powerful tool for any small business. And the difference between a Google, Starbucks, Virgin and all those other failed ventures that never quite made it.

That’s my point of view. What’s your twist?

How do you see branding as a challenge or advantage for small businesses?

Our Brand School program will give you actionable steps and strategies that you can use to grow a strong brand.  Receive more information about the next semester and receive free brand-building tools and tips when you join our mailing list.

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“Through Julie’s feedback I learned critical information about my demographic audience, what I was trying to say with my story, and what I stood for.” – Lynn Stull, Owner Arts2Thrive