Hone Your Elevator Pitch

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

TIP # 10: HONE YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH 

No matter what category your brand competes in, it’s becoming harder to stand out, since your potential customers are bombarded with so much information every day. That’s why it’s so important to have a really tight elevator pitch. It helps people “get” what you stand for right away and then quickly decide whether they want to learn more about your brand. Write down your pitch in no more than 250 words and continue to practice and perfect it. Start with one headline promise that highlights what your brand enables, not what you offer – and three support points. Rotate and freshen these points depending on your target audience, but be prepared to tell your story in 3 elevator flights, not 10 or even 30. Learn more about honing your elevator pitch here.

Check out tip #11 in the series, Engage In The Conversation.
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MAKE YOUR PITCH EVEN BETTER WITH BRAND SCHOOL 

Brand building doesn’t mean just designing a pretty logo and creating a cool name. It means choosing a bull’s eye target and defining your unique brand promise to connect with your consumers on an emotional level. Bottom line: you need to pay attention to your brand and perfecting your elevator pitch is a huge part of that.

Brand School’s premier branding program will help you zero-in on your brand.  Brand School takes best practices of beloved brands such as Virgin, Apple, and Zappos and brings them to life in engaging videos, interactive exercises and access to an exclusive private community of fellow entrepreneurs. Learn more about Brand School and find out about our special discounts just for social media friends when you sign up for our newsletter.

“I highly recommend tis 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

Find Moments That Matter

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

TIP #8: FIND MOMENTS THAT MATTER

Many marketers fall into the trap of thinking that branding always has to be a huge gesture, a big billboard, a knockout commercial, etc. And while branding IS effectively promoted that way, sometimes, the little moments matter the most when it comes to reinforcing your brand promise. Think about the trivia tidbits on the inside of Snapple caps, the kooky smile on Amazon’s box every time you receive a home delivery, or the branded logo on the bottom of the Virgin Atlantic salt and pepper shakers. What little moments could your brand be overlooking? It could be a small line of copy on an invoice, or a greeting that loads as your website boots up. Take just five minutes out of your daily routine to stop and think about a potential mundane moment that, in fact, could surprise and delight your customer and creates a stronger brand connection in the process.

Remember, with a little creativity there can be tons of magic in even the smallest moment.

Check out tip #9 in the series, Make Your Brand Personal.

BRAND SCHOOL ADDS A TWIST TO YOUR BUSINESS

Brand School is the highly effective, premier branding program specifically designed to meet the needs of small business owners and entrepreneurs. Learn more about Brand School here and read testimonials from many of Brand School’s satisfied former participants. To receive news about special offers and stay up to date on the next semester, please join our newsletter.

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

Fail Harder

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

TIP #6: FAIL HARDER

If you take nothing else, from this blog series, please start to change your attitude toward failure. Most of us are terrified of failing at anything, much less our careers and the things we’re most passionate about, but you need to learn to start embracing it. Why? When you’re failing, you’re acting and also learning from whatever you do that doesn’t work. One of the most important lessons I learned at Virgin was from the disastrous launch of Virgin Cola. Richard Branson and others often talk it about the launch within the company as an important learning moment. It showed the Virgin team a valuable lesson: that the brand should focus on experiences and not products, because there is so much more opportunity in an experience to shake things up and delight the consumer. This was an important learning touchpoint, and ultimately saved Virgin millions of company dollars, moving forward.

Bottom line: a failure, especially a big failure, can be more than worth the money lost as long as you take stock of what drove the failure and apply that learning for a stronger brand moving forward. Read more about the power of failure here.

Check out tip #7 in the series, Show, Don’t Tell.

HOW CAN BRAND SCHOOL HELP YOU TO SUCCEED?

Brand School is the premier program that teaches you how to grow your business by growing a stronger brand. Brand School takes best practices of beloved brands such as Virgin, Apple, and Zappo’s and brings them to life in engaging videos, interactive homework exercises and exclusive access to a private community of other entrepreneurs. Learn more about Brand School HEREAnd to receive updates on the next semester and news of exclusive offers for BrandTwist social media friends, sign up for the BrandTwist newsletter.

“Brand School allowed me to get to the essence of my  brand. I was able to hone and tighten up my brand. Thank you, Julie, it’s a great program.” – Jonathan Flaks, President, Jonathan Flaks Coaching Associates

3 Alarm Bells: It’s Time To Make Your Hobby Your Business

How do you know when it’s time to stand out of your own way, dive in and become an entrepreneur to start your own business? Here are three surefire signs that your time is NOW:

1.You can’t stop obsessing about a better way

We often underestimate our own value as consumers. Many successful businesses, including Virgin (started by my former boss and mentor Richard Branson), get their start by one person being frustrated about the lack of quality options and doing something about it.

If you are constantly moaning that there has to be a better way, maybe it’s time to listen to yourself and do something about it. For example, I know a couple in Brooklyn, originally from Norway, who decided to raise their children here in the US. However, when they went to find quality alpaca and merino wool baby and children’s clothes (the kind they grew up with in Norway), they realized they couldn’t find any.

After some informal market research they realized there was indeed a market need, but no readily available supplier. So they contacted some manufacturers of these clothes back in Norway and struck some distribution deals. The result? Ellaswool.com recently opened online and is developing partnerships with stores up and down the east coast.

Do you find yourself spending more and more time trying to solve your “pet peeve”? Do your friends and family joke that it’s become a bit of an obsession? Maybe it’s time you took the leap (like my Norwegian friends) and followed through to see if your obsession has legs as a business idea.

2. Friends, family (even strangers) constantly encourage you to take the leap

Maybe you’ve already taken the first step to starting a new business, but have limited its scope to smaller, safer “friends and family” markets. Many times we are afraid to make the leap to becoming a broader scale entrepreneur because we are afraid there is not enough demand for our products and services – so we keep our passion as more of a hobby. And despite the overwhelmingly positive response to what we have to offer, we still find excuses not to go forward on a larger scale.

For example, my husband and his friend have been selling organic French crepes out of a makeshift stand at our local farmer’s market for over a year. Every Saturday they are the hit of the market, often they sell out of crepes before the official 1 pm closing time. And if I had a dollar for every time one of their customers asked whether they had a more permanent restaurant near by…  Well, I’d have a lot of cash.

Recently, they finally decided to take the leap and open Grenadine Creperie in our Westchester town. The response has been phenomenal. They are now asking themselves, “why did we wait so long?”.

Are you getting similar positive feedback and dismissing it as people “just being nice”? Maybe it’s time to start paying attention to that praise and looking at it more like market research.

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3.Your day job has become a drain on your reputation, energy and health

What’s the real cost of delaying your dream? Often it can be your reputation, energy … and sometimes even your health. Many entrepreneurs come out when the sun goes down. They work 9 to 5 at a job they are no longer passionate about, but really come alive at night or on the weekends when they can spend time tending to their hobby or their sideline “passion” business.

This is understandable. After all there are bills to pay, college tuitions to save for, the necessary health care benefits that many day jobs cover. But for many entrepreneurs the downside of clocking in every day (for a significant part of your day), working for someone else when you’d rather be starting your own company, can have some tangible, negative consequences.

No matter how good an actor or actress you think you are, chances are your boss notices this dip in enthusiasm, and may even be secretly recording the office time you are using to make phone calls or search the web as research for your passion project. Over time this lack of commitment can lead to a damaged reputation, career stalls or even dismissal… and chances are it won’t be on your own terms.

Also, we all know someone who finally made the move to pursue their passion after a life-changing event brought on by stress (like a heart attack or cancer or someone close to them dying). Do you really want to wait until that happens to you? Or do you want to start something on a positive foot, when you still have your health and energy?

Sound familiar?

Do these examples hit a nerve? Is this year finally going to be the year that you invest in yourself and your dreams? I know it’s a very personal decision. But having started my own business this past year, I can say that my philosophy is that life really is too short and there really is no downside to failure. It’s just a dress rehearsal for ultimate success.

What do you do first? 

So what if you have taken the important first step and acknowledged you are ready to turn your passion into a business… What do you do first? Well, that’s tricky. But what you do during the period to tee up your new business can make a huge difference between success and failure.

For example, spending some time upfront developing your bulls eye target and your core brand promise, can help you crystallize your idea and help all the decisions that entrepreneurs need to make, that much easier and focused. Also, creating an identity and a name for your business can help make it more tangible and help others (potential partners, investors, employees) get more excited and want to help out. Whatever the path you take: The time to act is now. You need to invest in yourself, your future and your happiness.

How do you do that on limited time and budgets? 

Brand School by BrandTwist is the premier program specifically designed for entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them build their brands. Brand School takes best practices of beloved brands such as Virgin, Apple, and Zappos and brings them to life in engaging videos, interactive homework exercises and access to a private community of other entrepreneurs. Learn more about the next semester of Brand School HERE.

The time to act on your dreams is now.

“I received huge value from Brand School. You can’t put a price on that experience. I loved the integrated learning experience and  that we walked out of the series with a working brand strategy.” – Rachel W., Brand School Participant

Do Blondes Have More Fun? Starbucks Thinks So

I recently came across this new Blonde coffee variety from Starbucks and I think it’s a great example of a name that’s descriptive without being boring.

Starbucks could have gone with more traditional descriptors like “Light” for this new variety.

But by choosing the name “Blonde” they are both helping the consumer navigate the choice of the many varieties and imparting a bit of personality – part of the strategy of what has made this brand so strong. They understand that it’s about the experience – not just the functionality. And they have always known that the devil is in the details.

Too often brands think the have to make a choice between clear and clever.

Starbucks shows you can have your (coffee) cake and eat it too.

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

What other great descriptive names have you noticed?

Identifying your specific market niche and honing your brand’s verbal identity takes strategic thinking. 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.

Please also join us on Twitter and Facebook for more insight and discussion on branding.

“Brand School allowed me to get to the essence of my  brand. I was able to hone and tighten up my brand. Thank you, Julie, it’s a great program.” – Jonathan Flaks, President, Jonathan Flaks Coaching Associates