Location, Location, Location

One of our recent Facebook posts featured the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto, Canada. Our attention was drawn to this independent hotel because of how they set themselves apart by embracing the uniqueness of their location. Their brand is dedicated to offering an immersive and authentic Toronto experience to guests. The Gladstone is a one-of-a-kind hotel with one-of-a-kind rooms, each designed by a different local artist. Every room is detailed on their website with a statement by the local artist.

CELEBRATING LOCAL WITH A TWIST

Then we discovered Provenance Hotels, a chain with five prominent hotels in the U.S. They create a savvy, branded experience that highlights the culture of the city in which each hotel is located. This allows guests to form personal connections with the local community, the featured art and the hotel staff. The picture above is from their Hotel Max, Seattle, WA. Each room’s door is a full black and white photograph of artists and musicians that have a history connecting them to Seattle. Even the “X” created by lighting projected on the wall speaks to the local culture.

Though these two brands are in the same business; by offering their own twist on celebrating their location, they each provide travelers a rare and enriching experience, which cannot be duplicated.

HERE ARE THE LESSONS YOUR BRAND CAN APPLY

Often small brands feel they have to act big to be taken seriously. But small can be an advantage. Don’t be afraid to be local. Celebrating where you come from can make you stand out and be noticed – and help people identify with what you are offering. Locals appreciate the recognition and visitors appreciate getting an authentic taste of a new place. Establishing a connection with the local community also adds to the credibility of your brand.

Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program, will give you the tools you need to develop your branding and use it to connect your market with your brand’s unique sense of place. Receive more information about the next semester and free brand-building tools and tips when you join our mailing list.

“Motivational! I’ve given recommendations to several clients about Brand School.” – Liz Osting, Founder Herculiz Design

This post is part of our Brands That Twist series celebrating innovative brands. Read about other breakthrough brands and more ways to grow your business and brand here

Sweeten Your Brand with Innovation

Valentine’s Day has just passed. Searching to find a sweet little something to give as a gift online became a bit of a chore, revealing little more than those tried-and-true V-Day staples: chocolates, sparkling wines, roses and perfumes — that was until I came across a unique twist on an otherwise everyday item, honey.

Bee Raw Honey. This brand incorporates several solid branding concepts and executes them very well:

Niche: one item, well- mastered.

Name: we instantly know exactly what it is and by using the word “raw,” we know what makes it unique.

Location: proudly promoting and supporting the importance of local artisanal sources.

BUT WHAT MAKES THEM TRULY STAND OUT IS THEIR PACKAGING TWIST

They took a plain pantry staple and presented it in a way that elevates the way we think about it. We now can enjoy honey with a culinary perspective we never even considered before.

Like an elegant wine tasting experience, Bee Raw Honey offers us the opportunity to sample several flavors of honey by packaging smaller “sample tasting flights” together in a unique wooden stand. They’ve made it even easier for us to experience their product in a new and innovative way by providing food pairing ideas, menu suggestions, and recipes.

Your brand doesn’t need to be a food-related business to benefit from Bee Raw Honey’s sweet branding success.

HERE ARE THE LESSONS YOUR BRAND CAN APPLY

Think outside the box, or create a better box, literally. The way your promise is delivered does matter. Packaging may be the first physically tangible contact your market has with you; use it as an opportunity to make a lasting impression.

Give your market something new to do. Tell your market how to use your product in a new, innovative way and make it accessible.

Find innovative ways to present who and what your brand is all about. We know that executing on this concept may not  always be as easy as it sounds. We understand the challenges in creating a strong, clear and reinvigorated brand. Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program, will give you the tools you need to develop your brand and use it to make your business buzz. Receive more information about the next semester and also receive free brand-building tools and tips when you join our mailing list.

Editor’s note: This is an entry in our blog series called “Brands That Twist”. We are celebrating entrepreneurial brands and highlighting lessons that your brand can use right away to grow your business. We hope you enjoy and we’d love to hear your suggestions for future brands to feature. Just let us know in the comments section of this post. Happy 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

The Power of “We” in Customer Service

Here’s a little anecdote from a shopping experience I had yesterday that shows how a subtle difference in language can really effect a brand experience.

My daughter broke her backpack and I went shopping for a new one. This is not an easy task by the way – three quarters into the school year the selection is very limited. It’s like trying to find a 4th of July sparkler in November.  Anyway, I digress…

I went into several brand name shops in my local shopping area, frantically searching for the back pack, and I noticed something really important in visiting  two stores back to back.

The sales clerk at store number #1 (Burlington Coat Factory)  told me THEY don’t carry backpacks right now. The “THEY” she was referring to was the store she worked at. The employer paying her check. By using this pronoun it was clear to me that she didn’t really consider herself part of this brand. I love Burlington Coat Factory for its great selection and low prices but I was dismayed by this attitude.

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The sales clerk at store #2 (DSW-Designer Shoe Warehouse) – also wasn’t able to help me find what I was looking for. But she said “I am sorry, WE don’t have backpacks in stock right now”. This subtle difference from “THEY” to “WE” told me that she realized that she was indeed part of the DSW brand. And my experience shopping there has been consistent, the sales clerks will spend a lot of time with you trying to help you find just the right pair of tall black suede boots size 9 (just for example).

Semantics? I don’t think so. I think a brand’s ability to deliver great customer service is linked to its ability to make its employees understand and feel that they are the brand. There is no “THEY” –  there is only “WE”.

Do your employees understand this distinction? Are they taking ownership of your brand?

Building a strong brand culture and delivering on your promise at every touch point – including employee interactions – may not always be as easy as it sounds. We understand the challenges in creating a strong, clear and more profitable brand. Brand School is our highly effective, premier branding program that will give you the tools you need to develop your brand and use it to make your business thrive. Receive more information about the next semester and also receive 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.

“Quality information. The value is priceless. I loved every minute of it! I’ve recommended Brand School to industry friends and colleagues.” – Barb Wanzo, Non-Profit Homeowner Services

What To Do If Your Brand is Hacked

We’ve been hit with some scary news the past few days! Major brands (Jeep, Burger King, even Viacom’s MTV) are having their Twitter accounts hacked. If these “big boys” are vulnerable, what does that mean for the rest of us? And what can we learn from how they are responding in these time sensitive and potentially brand damaging situations?

Here are 5 tips on what to do if your brand is hacked:

1.   Keep calm and brand on.  Brands are built over time through the consistent delivery of positive experiences. While a hacking incident might be frightening, chances are rare that it will bring the whole empire tumbling down. Look at it as a bump in a road and don’t lose sight of the longer-term relationships that you have built. Focus on growing those and your brand will become stronger as a result.

2.   Enlist the help of loyal fans. Branding is a two-way relationship, and in times of trouble, who better to count on than our friends and fans to pull us through? Reach out to some loyal fans and ask them directly for their support to set the record straight.

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3.   Keep it real. Address the situation head-on and with an honest tone of voice. Communicate to your followers. Yes it sucks, but you’ve got the situation under control. If humor is part of your brand, you may even want to inject that into your response. Hey, with all the brands hackers have to choose from, you’re kind of flattered to be singled out. Right?

4.   Stay on your toes. Brand building is a true discipline. It takes time, constant monitoring and nurturing. Take a lesson from the brands that are able to bounce back quickly and make sure you have the right plan in place for your own brand. Do you have the toolkits, staff and budget set aside for your own brand to react quickly? Consider this a fire drill and make sure you are prepared.

5.   Turn the negative attention into a positive. If your brand is the victim of a hacking incident, use the additional attention it may be getting and turn it into a positive. Now that you’re in the spotlight, use this as an opportunity to highlight a positive brand message and thank your fans for their patience and loyalty.

Has your brand ever been hacked and what did you learn from the experience? We’d love to hear. Email us: julie@herculiz.com or post a comment below.

Knowing how to respond to issues as they arise and having a clear sense of where you want to take your brand is one key to developing a strong brand. Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program, will give you the the tools you need to develop your branding and use it to make your business sing. We give you hands-on exercises, exclusive online videos, and the opportunity to connect with a supportive community of fellow brand-building entrepreneurs. Receive more information about the next semester and also receive free brand-building tools and tips when you join our mailing list.

“BrandTwist helped us tremendously… Julie’s advice helped us be much more focused and effectively boil down all the ideas into a few key concepts.  It saved us a ton of time, and we got to a name – Light After Loss – that resonates with our customers.” – Charles Moore, Founder and CEO, LightPath Apps 

 

Grab a Branding Buddy This Winter

The Purple Crayon Center for Learning and Social Innovation

Winter can be a tough time to get creative

During the winter you can really start to feel cooped up. (Most West Coasters need not apply.) Winter has wrapped its chill around everything, ice is prevalent and you’re feeling pretty blue. In fact, January 21st is commonly known as Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the calendar year. And if you’re anything like most people, going slightly stir-crazy in these winter months can hinder your creativity big-time. I know I struggle with it!

Have more fun and get more done

Which is why I’m telling you, right off the bat, to get outside of your head and into your life. Really. Step outside of your office into the crisp (okay, frigid) winter air and go for a midday walk. Skip out of work an hour early, sit in a coffee shop and start stirring up some conversation with the double caf soy latte at the next table over – and maybe spark some new ideas. Know a friend or even a coworker who frequents co-working spaces, networking events or happy hours with like-minded friends? Tag along!

Energy is a funny thing; the negative sort can break your business and damage company morale. But positive energy can take you to a productive place, especially in branding. I want you to think more about feeding off the energy of others. Put yourself out there for more chance encounters and revitalizing experiences. Even overhearing a conversation about, say, social media, could spark a latent business idea you didn’t even know you had.

COME PLAY WITH ME   

I’ve hosted several workshops for branding and innovation through a partnership with Inc Interactive at the Purple Crayon Center in Westchester, NY.  These are in-person sessions with me and other amazing business professionals. The feedback we’ve received has been amazing and the results and takeaways participants get last long after the session ends. One of the big bonuses to attending workshops and events like these is that you’ll meet other like-minded entrepreneurs you can learn from, and who knows, you may even set up some brainstorming sessions on your own!

Keep a watch on the Purple Crayon Center’s schedule for future workshops or sign up for the BrandTwist list for updates on all our future events.

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