An Inspiring Entrepreneurial Twist that Warmed Our Hearts

empowerment

We are always looking for the twist – that little something special that opens our minds to new ways solving old problems. This entrepreneurial twist is one of the most inspiring we’ve seen.

Insight + invention + inspiration = Veronika Scott and The Empowerment Plan.

Having experienced homelessness, college student Veronika wanted to create something that would help serve that community as part of a design class assignment. She created a coat that converts to a sleeping bag – a truly innovative concept.

During the prototype testing, a woman yelled at her, berating her for this “band aid” solution, when what homeless people really need are jobs. That’s when Veronika decided to start her own production company and employ the very population she really wanted to reach. At The Empowerment Plan, workers are taught the skills they need to empower their lives while creating products that help others.

……….

Insight came from her personal experience; invention came from her college design class assignment; and inspiration came from listening to the perspective of her target. Well done, Veronika!

What can your small business do by combining insight + invention + inspiration?

In Brand School, students go beyond category boundaries, take lessons from successful brands and twist them with their own business to innovate and serve the consumer who really needs a new choice. See what Brand School can do for you.

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“Brand School was helped us set structure to our process, define our target and recognize our customer’s motivations. We were able to create timely taglines and better-defined branding campaigns.” – Randi Curhan, Development Coordinator for Redwood High School Foundation, Non-profit

Think Inside the Box for Better Branding

Birchbox was built on a single observation: It’s difficult for many people (like new parents) to get out and into stores to sample new products. So why not bring those samples directly to their homes? Birchbox does just that.

PACKAGE THE GAP AND DELIVER

Similar to what Rough Trade did with music, Birchbox took the “Product of the Month Club” concept and put a twist on it.  Instead of one monthly product, Birchbox delivers several samples of cosmetic, skin care, bath, beauty and lifestyle products all bundled into a beautiful Birchbox and sent direct to their subscribers door. They offer subscriptions for both men’s and women’s products, and each is branded with its own unique colors, look and feel.

ENGAGE YOUR MARKET; EXPAND ON WHAT YOUR BRAND OFFERS

But beyond delivering a new box of samples each month, Birchbox delivers brand value to their customers by giving them a total lifestyle website, where they can access user reviews of the latest products, have the opportunity to purchase additional goods and receive tips on grooming, fashion and beauty through their online magazines and blog.

Birchbox, like Brad’s Raw Foods, created a unique promise by filling a gap. Birchbox addresses people’s need for shopping convenience and their desire to feel connected, as their tagline expresses, Discover Beauty Better™        

CURATE AND CONQUER

Think about ways your brand may be able to address an unmet need and make it easier for consumers to say “yes” to giving you a try. Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program, will provide the tools to create fresh ideas and help your business build trial and customer loyalty. Get information about priority registration for Brand School’s next session and receive our 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. Check out  other breakthrough brands and learn more ways to grow YOUR business here.

“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

Sweeten Your Brand’s Impact with a Meaningful Cause

Can a product brand have a higher purpose and not seem like it’s just jumping on the “cause” band wagon? Well, we believe that sweetriot has made the cut with grace and impact.

sweetriot makes chocolate candy. Sounds simple enough, but they have taken their brand to another level altogether. They are a mission-based business that wants to “create a more just and celebrated multicultural world for our next generation”. They embrace this idea throughout their company and in every area of brand expression.

How do they succeed in clearly defining their brand promise to make their product and purpose stand out?

Their name says it all. sweetriot immediately implies they are making their voice heard, that they welcome others into the process, and they do it while creating a sweeter place, literally and figuratively. In their own words: “A sweetriot is a joyful celebration of culture, diversity, and understanding — it is the opposite of a civil riot, which is dangerous, violent, and oppressing.”

They are consistent and creative with their use of verbal identity. CEO, Sarah E Endline, calls herself the “Chief Rioter.” Customers are asked to “Join the riot.”  Their chocolate treats are called “peaces.” Their copy reinforces their dedication to fair-trade and social causes that better the communities from where their materials are sourced.Their tagline is “Fixing the world one ‘peace’ at a time. Sweet for the world & sweet for you.”

Their mission is integrated as a part of every aspect of their business – it is not an add-on. It is integral to their products, partnerships and people. They walk the talk.

Their logo helps tell their story. Their logo is a thumbprint and also the globe. Immediately we know sweetriot is aware that they are leaving their personal mark on the world and it serves as a reminder to us that we are, too (everyone has a thumbprint and everyone lives on Earth).  Based in NYC, USA, sweetriot’s brand colors of red, white and blue reflect their company’s origin.

Their packaging is social and unique. sweetriot supports the emerging artists community by featuring works that embrace sweetriot’s culture on the candy wrappers. Works of art to be featured are selected by votes from website visitors.

sweetriot put a creative twist on their brand by directly involving their market and community and by consistently reminding their customers that when they purchase a sweetriot product they are doing more than simply satisfying a chocolate craving.

If executed with authenticity and care, your customers may respond with loyalty and enthusiasm when they realize that by connecting with your product they are in turn contributing to a larger community. Identifying associations that resonate on a meaningful level with your target market takes strategic thinking. Incorporating your promise into your brand identity takes planning. At Brand School, the highly effective, premier branding program, we deliver the tools and steps you need to sweeten your brand and its connection to your market. Receive more information about Brand School’s next session 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.

“I’ve taken quite a few courses on branding and marketing overall. However, what attracted me to Brand School was Julie’s experience with branding from a corporate level.” – Barbara Wanzo, Non-profit Homeowner Services.

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

Show, Don’t Tell

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

For today’s post, we’re taking a trip back to grade school. You know, when you had those class projects you brought in to show your fellow students (and hopefully, engaged listeners) about your product, thing or idea? Let’s start there. Read on for another tip to help you brand your business even more successfully.

TIP #7: SHOW, DON’T TELL

Brands must have clear brand promises in order to be successful. But the strongest  brands also back up their words with actionable results. Marketers, strategists and social media experts, that means that you need to ensure your experience actually delivers what you say it will. Virgin America has done so well in a relatively short time span because the brand doesn’t just tell you it’s ‘A Breath of Fresh Airline’. It shows you, through unique mood lighting that’s present on each aircraft, a touch-screen RED entertainment system built into the headboard of the airline seats, and the complete ability to control when you order and eat during the flight. Add to that fleet-wide WiFi and a rockin’ elevate points system and you might actually start to feel that seeing is believing. Great brands “walk the talk”. Is your brand blowing hot air, or does it deliver what it promises? Delivery and execution for brands isn’t always an easy task, but brands that show their consumers what they offer, rather than telling it, are the ones that make it to the head of the class.

Check out tip #8 in the series, Find Moments That Matter.

LET BRAND SCHOOL SHOW YOU THE POWER OF BRAND

Brand School is the premier program that shows you step-by-step how to build your brand and grow your business. Brand School takes best practices of beloved brands such as Virgin, Apple, and Zappo’s and teaches you how to apply these lessons right away to your brand. It’s not about the theory of branding. It’s about rolling up your sleeves, learning by doing, and seeing the impact of a stronger brand right away. Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date on special offers and learn more about the next semester of Brand School HERE

“Brand School helped me get clear on my messaging and my brand. Now my clients know exactly what it is I bring to my classes.” – Josh Pais, Actor and Founder of Committed Impulse, creativity workshop