What’s My TWIST? Unexpected experts can help your brand

Far too often, brands get stuck sounding, looking, and feeling the same way to consumers as any other competitor in their field. These brands aren’t standing out from the bunch; they’re merely doing just enough to fit in and survive. The most successful brands owe that success to the fact that they’re different. It’s why you gravitate to Apple before Dell, and why you can’t forget GEICO’s gecko. To stand out you need to get some outside perspective and a little inspiration.

BrandTwist session attendees

The “What’s my TWIST Panel” technique does just that.

The “inspired experts” panel uncovers fresh language by taking experts in related but distinctly different fields and asks questions to extract fresh language that can be TWISTED with your own brand.

For example, recently we helped a pharmaceutical client with an over-the-counter medication focused on protection, by bringing in four unusual experts:

  • A former fireman
  • A bouncer
  • A computer security consultant
  • And an insurance agent

The essential element of this panel was that the client had no idea what fields the experts were in. Similar to the classic “What’s My Line?” game show – the occupations of the panelists were guessed and revealed at the very end. This kept the pharmaceutical executives focused on active listening for fresh language that they could then TWIST to add distinction to their marketing.

The panel was asked questions such as:

  • “What does protection mean in your field?”
  • “What happens when there is a failure of protection?”
  • “What are the emotions involved? The consequences?”
  • “How do you act to prevent future breakdowns?”

The results? Fresh perspectives on providing control, comfort, and confidence to consumers in the most vulnerable situations – that can be TWISTED into marketing that breaks through.

What experts would you invite to your What’s My TWIST? panel and what related, but distinct categories should your brand be learning from? Learn about more TWISTING techniques in TWIST: How Fresh Perspectives Build Breakthrough Brands.

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How to Represent Your Brand at Big Events

In May I was asked to be a part of two amazing events with strong (and unique) brand experiences. First I stopped by the Business and Burgers segment during the Newfronts with Entrepreneur TV to talk TWISTS and burgers. The next day I headed to Northern California to join Tyra Banks at Stanford Graduate School of Business to talk TWISTS for personal branding.

Representing Your Brand on stages like Entrepreneur and Stanford Graduate School of Business

I think you’ll agree, both of these events had their own unique and very strong brand experiences, and in both cases, multiple large brands were involved. In events like these, the challenge becomes how do you make sure YOUR brand connects and stands out?

It all comes down to three Rs…

  • Research
  • Represent
  • Repeat

Let’s talk research.

For years we’ve heard about the importance of doing your “homework”, but for many business owners they skip over doing it before these types of events, and this is where you can lose some important brand leverage.

Before both events, I was in continuous contact with the teams putting on the events so I could know not only the details and expectations, but also how I could best support the event, and the event leaders.

By connecting with them before the event and digging in on my own research I was able to do two very important things.

First I was able to offer relevant recommendations that could help the event and hosts. This allows me to stand out to them, and that’s valuable not only the day of the event or for future events, but for possible partnerships in the future.

Stanford Graduate School of Business Brand TWIST exercise

The second thing it allows me to do is over deliver for the audience. I know exactly who they are before I entered the room and that allows me to make sure my content is directly targeted at them. I am able to make sure they hear it and remember it.

This research can happen right up until you go on stage. Before the Business and Burgers segment, I asked the guest chef about the burger and what the TWIST was. This allowed me to highlight the great burger and talk TWISTING. I wouldn’t have been able to do that if I hadn’t taken the time to ask a few quick questions. In case you are curious, it was a pinch of cinnamon added to the lamb burger. YUM!

Let’s talk represent

Representing your brand is more than carrying your card and handing it to everyone you meet. You’re a walking and talking example of your brand. This means you can be a constant visual reinforcement of your brand through wearing your brand colors, but also it means living your brand promise, so think not only about the color but the style as a whole.

Julie Cottineau and Tyra Banks talked Personal branding at Stanford Graduate School of Business

It’s also important to have collateral that represents your brand, and if you have a book – that gets really easy. I went back and forth about carrying books with me for the Business and Burgers events, and I’m glad I did. We ended up having one on the table during our chat. The same thing happened at Stanford. After the class, Tyra went live on Facebook with some students and held the book while sharing how she enjoyed it.

Remember this is all about being visual, what can you put in front of your audience’s eyes that will help them remember who you are? It doesn’t have to be a book, it can be a “report” of findings with your logo loud and proud on the cover.

Let’s talk repeat

One of the most important parts of Brand School is knowing your core brand message, and that’s because knowing that allows us to build everything else. I don’t think you’ll be surprised to know that for me it always comes back to the TWIST.

Julie Cottineau looks for the brand TWIST in a burger

That’s why during my time at Business and Burgers I asked about the TWIST in the burger. I also complimented the hosts on their own unique TWISTS – revving up business content with engaging cooking tips and, fun to eat, delicious (messy) burgers! It allowed me to have another place in the conversation to talk TWISTS. Even better was a way for me to talk about my core message, without just talking about me. It allowed me to highlight that you can find the TWIST in anything.

You’ll also notice in the videos from Entrepreneur TV and Tyra Banks we use the word TWIST a lot because it’s all about repeating that brand message in new and creative ways so that you can connect with the people listening.

It’s important to remember though, my ability to repeat came from doing the research, and visually representing the BrandTWIST brand.

What tips to do you have to help your brand shine during important events? Share them here at our BrandTwist blog.

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Small Business TWISTS – Rey Insurance Agency

Brand School Alumni, Linda Rey, has a family-owned insurance agency that celebrates its roots in the community. This includes a unique TWIST of sending out email advisories during bad weather with very localized updates on specific road closings and streets to avoid. This is something the larger companies could never do. And Linda’s customers are grateful. It’s one thing for an insurance agency to talk about its auto insurance policies, it’s another for it to actually keep you safe on the road.

Before Brand School it had been about 15 years since Rey Insurance had updated the brand. And as Linda put it, “we never really went through the process of what a business does for branding purposes. We didn’t have a strategy for how we wanted to look. Brand School afforded us the opportunity to explore how that might work for us without breaking the bank!”

Rey Insurance - Before and After Branding

One lesson from Brand School that helped Linda was to think about storytelling. Approaching their brand with that objective allowed them to be more human and step away from “textbook language about insurance”. Linda shares one of the ways they’ve implemented the TWIST, “BEING FUN in our DESIGN by presenting ideas and concepts about insurance that bring attention to considering the possibility vs. avoiding the consequences.”

Rey Insurance New Website Logo Update Rebrand

Linda transitioned her brand from a traditional family-owned insurance promise to a more modern “We help you GET insurance” brand idea. When she did this, she realized that her red and blue logo developed in 2000 blended in too much with her competitors and undermined her company’s TWIST of approachability.

She kept the core element of the shape but updated it with vibrant colors, which were inspired by her favorite organic grocer. When she walked into this grocery store, the fruits and vegetables were so inviting and colorful that she wanted to pick them up and put them in her basket. She loved the new logo so much she added bright throw pillows that adorn the reception area of the agency. This splash of color is distinctive for her category and really underscores her brand’s intention to be friendlier, more welcoming and more down-to-earth than traditional insurance agencies.

Before an After Rey Brand Logos

Investing the time in finding the TWIST and following that up with action, made a big impact on Rey Insurance. The key there is doing the work. It can feel overwhelming to implement, but that’s where the support of Brand School can really help. Linda says it best, “(Brand School) was such a great experience for me. Though, after delving in, doing the work is hard. There is resistance, but having access to Julie with the one-on-one meetings helped to move the needle so we can continue in breaking through with a more creative flair to our brand. I’m so grateful I went through it.”

Brand School by Brand Twist  Branding Course for your Small Business

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

How Twists Grow Business

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This is a replay of Julie Cottineau’s webinar presented to UPenn students and alumni on how to use branding to grow business. A lively Q & A session followed. This is loaded with helpful TWISTS, tools and takeaways for business owners of large to small businesses, non profits, or personal brands. You can hear the replay HERE. 

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Finding the right TWIST can help your brand innovate and deliver. In TWIST: How Fresh Perspectives Build Breakthrough Brands, Brand School founder Julie Cottineau provides a clear road map to build a stronger more distinctive brand – complete with examples from real life small business owners who have successfully completed our Brand School program. Pick up your copy today.

Talking Brand and Entrepreneur TWISTS with Steve Blank

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Julie Cottineau, founder of BrandTwist and BrandSchoolOnline.com and author of TWIST: How Fresh Perspectives Build Breakthrough Brands, talks branding and entrepreneurship TWISTS with Steve Blank on The Wharton School’s “Entrepreneurs are Everywhere” show on Channel 111 on SiriusXM Radio. LISTEN TO A REPLAY HERE.

Twist angle white

Finding the right TWIST can help your brand innovate and deliver. In TWIST: How Fresh Perspectives Build Breakthrough Brands, Brand School founder Julie Cottineau provides a clear road map to build a stronger more distinctive brand – complete with examples from real life small business owners who have successfully completed our Brand School program. Pick up your copy today.