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.


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.


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.


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 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!


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.

Stand Out in the Real World

Like most of us, I’m spending so much time on the computer, mobile and other virtual devices that I find myself beginning to to think communicating is now a 100% virtual experience, especially for business. But the reality is that the real world has not ceased to be important – far from it. In fact, most of the time it takes a real, tangible connection to ensure a brand makes an impact or an entrepreneur is remembered. Yes, even in a growing virtual and e-mail world, an actual business or greeting card can go a long way.

Online printing has been around for a long time. It has provided everyone with the ability to quickly have business cards or personalized holiday cards printed at a fraction of what it used to cost. There are thousands of online printers to choose from. What makes moo different?


Moo is passionate about one thing, design. They are dedicated to making distinctive design accessible to everyone. Moo’s tagline encapsulates this promise: great design for everyone. They implemented a twist in their brand by taking an unwavering stand for design quality and in doing so, created a niche where their brand excels. This really helps them stand out from all of the other printing brands that focus only on low price and quick printing. Your business card is a powerful representation of your brand. Why would you skimp?


Think outside the tired, worn out holiday card or business card ideas of the past. What better way to have your brand remembered than to give a holiday card created in your business’ colors? Or, give a set of note cards creatively designed with the colors of the recipient’s logo or tag line? An entrepreneur can make a lasting impression by handing out a mini-smartcard with an unforgettable quote or photo on it. Moo makes this possible and accessible to everyone and above all, permits us to do it with stand-out design.


Put your brand within reach of your customers.  Literally. Print it out, hand it out, or give it as a gift. Making it something tangible, that other people can get their hands on, is an effective way to have you and your business shine, in full color! And if you get them to wear your brand with pride (think t-shirt or re-susable tote) they will also be walking brand ambassadors.

Defining what your brand stands for and then expressing it with impactful touch points is essential to growing your business.  But it takes focus and strategic thinking. Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program, will give you the insight and tools you need to express your brand in both the real world and in the virtual world. Receive more information about the next session of Brand School and get free brand-building tools and tips when you join our mailing list.

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


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.


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.


Commit to Continual Learning

It’s my final tip in the 13 Tips for Stronger Branding blog series! On behalf of BrandTwist, thank you so much for reading through the posts, and following me on Twitter and Facebook as I posted about all of them. Now, for the final tip…


Branding is as much an art as a science. Even the most skilled brand professionals can benefit from continual learning and challenging themselves mentally. After all, trends in social media and technology are all constantly evolving. Why shouldn’t we? Whether you are just starting out on your branding journey, or have a well-established brand, everyone can use a boost in today’s hyper competitive markets.

Participate in webinars, take classes provided by industry education leaders like General Assembly or Skillshare. Even attending meet ups or networking events organized through your company or in fields you’re curious about are key to your professional development. The growth you do doesn’t need to break the bank, and online learning can be an efficient and effective way to brush up on your d branding skills. You don’t need to spend a fortune on travel or take extra-long breaks at the office. Commit to one hour a day – probably the length of that TV show on Bravo you record on your DVR at home. Take that hour on your lunch break; multitask if you have to. After all, the great entrepreneurs do it. You could be one of them.


For more actionable strategies, sign up for Brand School, the highly effective, premier program that  teaches you how to grow your business  by building 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 shows you how to apply that knowledge to your own business for greater impact from day one.

Learn more HERE.

“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

Coaches: It’s Time to Button Up Your Branding

Coaches: Get your brand elevator pitch right

In my brand consulting practice at BrandTwist I’ve been fortunate to work with a variety of coaches as clients: Life Coaches, Business Coaches, Distance Learning Coaches and even Art Therapy and Nutritional Coaches.

[sc:optinbox]Although they represent many different areas of expertise, as a group I find coaches to be incredibly passionate and giving. As much as I’ve taught them about branding – I’ve also learned so much from them about the subjects they so passionately coach.

Here’s another thing they have in common: They need some serious um… coaching… when it comes to branding.

Tell Your Elevator Pitch in Two Flights not Twenty

The most common issue I’ve observed among this group is that as giving people, they tend to want to give too much information about themselves, their backgrounds and their brand benefits.

Their brand elevator pitch – which should take up 2 flights and 2 minutes – tends to take about twenty flights and often up to twenty minutes. No matter how fascinating your business is, this is way too long to explain to prospective customers what you do.

So here are some Brand Coaching tips for telling people about your brand and business in a succinct way that leaves them wanting more… Not rolling their eyes and heading for the door.

These are specifically geared to coaches, since so much of what they are offering comes from their personal expertise (vs. a more tangible product like a soft drink or an airline flight), but I think they are relevant for any good Brand Story teller.

Eight Branding Tips for Coaches

1. Pay attention to your audience, what motivates them? Your pitch can and should vary somewhat by audience, know what the ask is. Do you want an introduction to someone else, a purchase, an investment, coverage on a blog? Know this up front and make sure you ask for what you want by the close.

2. Talk about what your brand enables people to do – not just what you offer – an emotional promise fulfilled will create a loyal user.

3. Add something personal and memorable to your story – perhaps something visual – the best stories give specific details we can connect with.

4. Think about your story in terms of a headline and three supporting points – more than three is hard for your audience to remember.

5. Try out different versions on different people – see which ones get the lean forward effect, and which ones elicit a yawn or maybe a distracted eye roll.

6. Keep honing and editing – a story is never actually finished. New events happen that are significant and should be incorporated. Also updating stories keeps them fresh and interesting.

7. Have a short version, but be ready to follow up with more – think about your elevator ride for your elevator pitch. Make sure you have the two-floor version but also be prepared for the twenty-floor ride to the penthouse

8. Notice stories that move you and why. This could be movies, things you read in the newspaper… Think about what elements of that story caught your attention and is there a parallel element that could help you tell your own brand story? I don’t mean copying the content, but maybe borrowing the technique.

Learn more at Brand School.

A serious commitment to branding is a smart investment for small and midsize businesses that want a deeper understanding of customers’ needs. The ability to exceed expectations and communicate ideas with crystal clarity can exert an almost gravitational pull on customers, which translates to easier customer acquisition and increased customer loyalty.

You can learn everything you need to know about branding and how to apply it to your business, with Brand School, the premier program for business owners and entrepreneurs who want to grow their brand. Brand School combines hands-on exercises, exclusive online videos, and access to a community of fellow brand-building entrepreneurs.

“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