How Not to Dress for Success

This post, How Not to Dress for Success, 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

It may be summer, but this is still a job. Even if you see senior partners dressing in casual clothes – remember they’ve already gotten the job. If you are an intern or junior employee,  you are still auditioning. The casual air in a creative environment like an agency can be misleading, but if you have any doubt whatsoever, err on the more professional side.

This means:

No flip flops (for men or women) ever- save them for the beach!

No midriff baring.

Gals: No super micro-mini skirts or hotpants.

Guys: Depending on your company, you may not need to wear a jacket or tie – but no shorts or scruffy t-shirts, and no pants hanging so low they’re falling off.

Pay attention to how the men and women in the office are dressing when they go to see clients.

When in doubt: ask!

Dress for the job you want, not for the job you have. This doesn’t mean you need to spend a lot of money, but it doesn’t mean you need to look frumpy either. Just be clean, neat and professional.  Don’t go for the the Devil Wears Prada Anne Hathaway before look.

If you are in the branding business, you do need to pay a little attention to your own brand. This is a great time to start cultivating your unique personal style, and style can be expressed in many ways.

If you do want to show some personality through your clothing, accessorize. This can be statement jewelry, cool bags, belts, shoes, hats, scarfs or ties; all applicable for both men and women.

Perhaps there is a certain color, pattern or cool style of specs that you are passionate about. Don’t be afraid to wear them continually and start to develop a signature look. As long as it’s genuinely connected to who you are – don’t play dress up.

One place where shorts are totally appropriate—the company softball team. Joining in is a great way to show your unique personality, demonstrate that you are team player and get to know your future colleagues and bosses.

When I was at Virgin we had a great college intern who came to every game. He wasn’t the best batter or fielder but he had such a great attitude. He was always cheering his teammates on and offering to buy the first round at the pub after the game. This definitely made a positive and memorable impression, gave us great insight into his personality and showed that he was someone who could fit in with the corporate culture.

Have you observed a fashion faux pas in the office? We’d love to hear about your own experience… maybe it was your own internship or a story from one of your friends.

Also, if you are looking to boost your resume, why not become a guest blogger for BrandTwist? Reach out to jamie@herculiz.com with your blog idea or any questions about guest blogging.

Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program, will give you the insight and tools you need to express your personal brand for greater recognition in your career field. 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 connect with us out on Twitter and Facebook for more insight and discussion on branding.

“I highly recommend tis class to anybody; it will put your business on a different level.” – Dr. Marina Kostina, Distance Learning Specialist, CEO of  wired@heart

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

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.”

Sincerely,

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.

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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.

Sincerely,

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?
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Want more answers? Just let us know your additional questions in the comments section below.
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Check out the next post in our series: Land the Job: Bring Your Experience Off the Page!
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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.

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“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

So You Want To Work In Branding. Here’s My Advice…

This post, So You Want to Work in Branding. Here’s My Advice… is the first 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 my favorite things about spring is – STUDENTS! Every April I get to spend time with undergraduate and graduate students at both Cornell and Columbia – two great universities where I’ve had the good fortune of teaching as an adjunct professor. I also get to connect with students in my own online program, Brand School.

During and after my visits to campus, I receive dozens of questions about pursuing a career in branding touching on a wide array of topics such as: “How do I grow and manage my personal brand?” “Is it better to work at an agency or client-side?” “How do I break into the branding business?”

I’d love to be able to sit down and speak one-on-one with each student about his or her concerns. But unfortunately, my schedule is full to the brim with my brand consultancy BrandTwist, my Brand School program, and two full-time students of my own (a 6th grader and a 10th grader).

But the career concerns of my students are so important; I simply could not let them go. And thus began the foundation for this blog series, So You Want to Work in Branding. Here’s My Advice…  This series is designed specifically for those considering a career in branding. I give my top tips and share with you my insights from over 25+ years at great companies such as Grey, Interbrand and Virgin. If you are curious, you can read more about my background here.

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If you are considering a career in the branding industry, this series is about YOU. The more input you share about your concerns, questions and issues, the more meaningful information I can provide. Leave your input in the comments section below – that way other students (who probably have similar questions) can also join in and benefit from the conversation.

Please realize the point-of-view I express in this blog series is based solely on my own experience. There is no one right way to go about building a career in branding – but that’s part of the fun of it.

WHERE DO I START?

This blog series is a great place to start your process.

Speak to as many people as possible in the industry.

Always have your contact information readily available (yes, we still use actual business cards!). And be ready with a short elevator pitch about your credentials and what makes you a desirable hire. You can read more about honing your elevator pitch here.

Consider the relationship you have with your teachers, professors, and counselors as a wonderful resource. They may have direct referrals for you or give you ideas on where to network.

Additional powerful resources are college club, alumni and fraternity or sorority connections.

GET NOTICED ONLINE

One thing you can start to do right away to flex your branding muscle and increase your visibility is to be a guest author for industry blogs. BrandTwist is always looking for student and guest authors for our blog. Interested? Just send a brief synopsis of your blog idea along with a sample paragraph to Jamie@BrandTwist.com and we will contact you within one week to let you know if your blog idea has been accepted.

Check out the BrandTwist blog list of categories we cover (to the right) and view the latest guest blog posts here.

BrandTwist does not pay for guest blog content, but we will provide you with a byline that includes your contact details. This is a great platform to reach other people who are passionate about brand. Who knows… maybe your future employer will see your blog post and call you for an interview!

JUST ONE MORE THING

You may be tempted to charge ahead with a full-court press when you start to contact your resources and associations, but I urge caution here. There are effective and ineffective ways of making yourself noticeable and accessible. We will cover many of the do’s and don’ts throughout the rest of this blog series, so please stay tuned!

I look forward to sharing with you and hearing from you! Feel free to share this post with any friends you think could also benefit from a smarter job search.

Here’s the next post in the Career series: Network More Effectively to Land the Job.

“Julie’s active participation in Brand School and  feedback was amazing and helped a LOT. I received great value from this program.” – Leslie Hughes, PUNCHmedia 

Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program, 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 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.