Branding: An Entrepreneur’s Secret Weapon, smallbizdaily

Recently I had the pleasure of being interviewed about entrepreneurship and business branding by author, columnist and online talk show host Jane Applegate for her column in smallbizdaily, “The Applegate Report.”

smallbizdaily is an online publication dedicated to Ideas, Insights. Information and Inspiration for Entrepreneurs.

Among the questions Jane asked were:

  • How do you define “brand”? Isn’t it just a company logo?
  • What is the biggest mistake business owners make when it comes to branding?
  • What advice do you have for entrepreneurs just starting a business?

That’s just for starters.

You can check out smallbizdaily and read the entire interview HERE.

BrandTwist’s highly effective, premier branding program, Brand School, will give you tools to develop your brand, innovate your business and engage your customers.  Receive more information about Brand School’s next session and get free brand-building tools and tips when you join our mailing list.

“I highly recommend this 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


Engage in the Conversation

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

1. To involve oneself or become occupied; participate: engage in conversation.

It’s not enough to talk to a few loyal fans and followers on social media. You must really engage: it’s the only way to get ahead. Read on for another tip that will help you engage better.


Stop observing and start participating. Curious about Pinterest? Create a page and start pinning. Set up a Twitter account, follow those you can learn from, comment on and Retweet other users’ content. Start small; the important thing is that you get in on the conversation. You don’t have to start your own blog, but you should comment on blogs that you read and find relevant. This simple act can help drive traffic back to your site – and may even lead to valuable and enriching professional relationships.

What simple tips have you used to grow your business? Let me know in the comment section or on Facebook.

Check out tip #12 in the series, Innovate New Brand Ideas by Adding a Fresh Twist.


Brand building is one of the single most important things you can do to grow your business but it takes expertise, energy and investment. Julie Cottineau, the Applegate Network’s Small Business Branding Expert and the former VP of Brand for Richard Branson’s Virgin is here to show you how.

Brand School is the premier program for business owners and entrepreneurs who what to grow their business. Brand School takes best practices of beloved brands such as Virgin, Apple, and Zappos and teaches you how to apply their success to your business to build a stronger brand to drive business results. Brand School gives you engaging videos, interactive exercises and exclusive access to a private community of other entrepreneurs. Learn more about Brand School HERE.

“Julie was so generous and gave us so much depth.  I learned my core message and how to package and brand it so I could stand out from the crowd.” – Dr. Marina Kostina, Distance Learning Specialist, CEO of  wired@heart 

Fail Harder

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


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.


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

Slow Down to Speed Up

I was lucky enough have spent most of last week at Canyon Ranch in Lenox Mass. What an amazing place.

The term “spa” doesn’t do it justice. It’s much more than that. Yes it has great spa services (best hot stone massage of my life..Yan I love you) but it offers so much more. In addition to exercise and dance classes, there are terrific  lectures on topics ranging from the science of diet and weight loss to communicating better with your partner.

There’s so much to choose from you can spend all day flitting from a Pilate’s class to a massage to a lecture then back to a dance class an on to outdoor hiking and watercolor painting finsihing the day with an evening cooking demonstration..

Wow! I know it can sound exhausting. But I actually found it quite energizing.

And surprisingly, the thing I found the most energizing was sitting still…literally…in my first ever mediation class.


“Build wealth for my family, grow professionally, have fun. If a job doesn’t meet these criteria, don’t do it.”

– Jeffrey Hayzlett, former Kodak CMO,  Forbes Magazine “Celebrity CMO” and Author of The Mirror Test

I heard Jeff speak earlier this week at the Exact Target conference in Indianapolis. He’s a dynamic speaker, a larger than life presence and has a distinctive “take no prisoners” attitude. He shared a lot of gems, but this is the one that’s stuck with me after 48 hours.

I agree with Jeff. These are great criteria. But as I look around at my own life and the careers of family and friends close to me…it seems like it’s getting harder to satisfy all three of these at the same time in one job.

Do priorities shift in middle age? Does the pressure to provide mean that “wealth” begins to trump the other two and we settle for less than ideal?

I was with a former colleague last night who has been at his current job for decades. I assume given his seniority that he’s well paid.

He certainly has fun with the colleagues and clients he’s known for a long time. Many of whom have crossed the line over to genuine friends.

So what’s the rub?

He’s bored.

Intellectually numb as a shot of Novocaine.