Hit the Mic with Stacey Harris and Julie Cottineau

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We are excited to bring you this series of podcasts from Social Media Expert and Brand School Social Media Faculty Advisor Stacey Harris. This is a free series of talks with BrandTwist Founder & CEO Julie Cottineau about how to make your brand really stand out. They discuss ways to make branding decisions easier and how to take what the big brands do and apply their twists to your brand to build stronger, more profitable businesses – even in a crowded marketplace.

Stacey is a Brand School graduate and we are really excited to now have her as a member of the Brand School Facutly. Stacey’s site, TheStaceyHarris.com, is full of social media marketing insight, podcasts featuring chats with business experts, and courses to help you get more bang from your social media effort.

SO GET READY for tons of branding, marketing and business innovation takeaways – listen to the podcasts here:

Brands That Stand Out with Julie Cottineau – Episode 101 

Better Branding with Julie Cottineau – Episode 27 

TAP INTO THE KNOWLEDGE

Connecting with other business owners or entrepreneurs is an effective way to keep your business ideas fresh. In Brand School Master Class you connect with an exclusive community of like-minded business owners and entrepreneurs that support one another and share inspirations to stay on track and bring fresh ideas to market. We’re enrolling now. See if your brand qualifies.

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“Working with Julie is an invaluable experience and a really great use of resources because it opens up so many doors and affects so many areas of  your business.” – Sarah Hinawi, Executive Director, The Purple Crayon Center for Learning and Innovation

All Your Burning Brand Questions – Answered!

Sometimes the terms “brand” and “branding” can feel a bit vague or even overwhelming, particularly for those beginning a business, embarking on the entrepreneur track, or looking to refresh their current brand or business.

Branding is often overlooked as an important initial aspect of building a business or re-building an existing one. Many think that “branding” can be added on after the business gets rolling, but the real value of a strong brand goes beyond what the color, logo, or website offer. If you have a clear grasp on who your business is really trying to reach and what you are promising to deliver, you’ll quickly realize the many ways having strong brand can benefit your business, from taking the stress out of daily decisions, to charging a premium for your product or services, to being forgiven by your following for any blunders. You’ll quickly see why a strong brand can be an entrepreneur’s secret weapon.

But how and where do you start formulating your brand?

Do these questions sound familiar:

  • What is a brand?
  • How does having a strong brand help my business?
  • How do I start developing my brand?
  • I’m not a big business, how can I do what the big brands like Starbucks, Virgin and Zappos! do?
  • How can I make my brand work harder to grow my business?

I recently was interviewed by Jennifer Love, Founder of JenniferLove.com and Co-founder & CEO NibMor for her free weekly video interview series that gives tips and information on building business, sales, and product development. I thoroughly enjoyed  sharing answers to her branding questions and giving tips on how knowing your brand well can help in building your business. There are plenty of tips and takeaways in this fun chat, you won’t want to miss it.

As a followup to the video Jennifer and I answered your branding questions in Twitter chat, using the hashtag #Branding101. It was great fun connecting with Jennifer and the Twitter community. You can read takeaways and highlights from our chat HERE.

If you want to receive notification when Jennifer’s new videos go live, sign up at Jennifer’s site HERE, and you’ll also receive access to special information not available to the public.

 

 

 

Branding Lessons From Summer Camp

To see more of our articles for  Women Business Owners Today (WBOT) click HERE.

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There is something magical about summer. Splashing in the lake during the day, roasting s’mores over a campfire at night and …. building stronger brands. Summer and branding? Yes, you heard me right.  Summer, and more specifically summer camp, is a great resource for brand building.  As you know I am a big believer in finding inspiration in unusual places and TWISTING it to create stronger brand promises, more effective marketing, and turning casual users into raving brand fans.

Check out my article for Women Business Owners Today, “Branding Lessons from Summer Camp.” Learn how s’mores, color wars and campfire songs can inspire and rejuvenate your brand and enliven your business. See the article HERE.

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

“If anyone needs to understand the PROPER professional way that WILL make a difference for branding your business, Brand School is your go to source.” – Mike Sass, Entrepreneur

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Why Bother Branding Your Small Business?

In this post, Why Bother Branding Your Small Business?, Malla Haridat shares the revelation that she, “…never realized how important branding was to small businesses. Especially those struggling with a clear and powerful answer to “why should I buy from you?” This is part of our guest blogger seriesMalla is an entrepreneur, strategist and Brand School graduate. Read more about Malla at the end of the post.  If you would like to be a guest blogger for BrandTwist contact Jamie@BrandTwist.com for more information.

Big fish, little fish
I always thought that branding only made sense for big companies.  I visualized an executive team strategizing about the vision and look of the company to ensure that all employees operated with one voice to give a consistent “feel” for customers.
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I never realized how important branding was to small businesses. Especially those struggling with a clear and powerful answer to “why should I buy from you?”
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I am a strategist for small business owners and help women entrepreneurs in the making take their talents to the bank.  You can visit my blog at mallaharidat.com for advice with a no BS approach.  I have been blessed to work with amazing clients who hired me to build small business camps and workshops.  But after years of serving corporate and not for profit clients, I realized there was a market I really should be serving – individual women entrepreneurs.  However, it has been a challenge for me to convey how I can impact individuals after years of focusing my marketing on the needs of large groups. I enrolled in the Fall ’12 Session of Brand School by Brand Twist and it gave me several insights on how to build my business.
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I learned that branding is so much more than creating a tag line or choosing your color scheme. It is an opportunity to craft a clear identity for your company that allows you to focus on what you deliver. And once you tackle this challenge, it’s much easier to communicate to prospective clients, the media and even your friends and family about what you deliver and why your company is better than others.

I also learned how to design a clear framework around my services – what I would focus on and what I would leave off the table. For a solo entrepreneur who is often enticed to take on all types of work that sounds interesting – it’s critical to have this boundary so that I don’t lose focus from my company’s core strength.

So here are the top branding lessons I learned:

1.   Creating a brand proposition is critical for a small business.  Yes, it’s hard work. And yes, you’ll have to spend valuable time creating and testing your brand while  you’d rather be finding new customers. But the payoff is INCREDIBLE. The clear verbal message I have about my business is making it much easier for prospects to “get” me.  And it really paid off recently as I was awarded a finalist spot in a business pitch competition!  I never would have been able to hone my message into a 2 minute pitch that was clear, compelling – and won me a coveted spot.

2.   Incorporating the values of brands you love into your business can be a fun and enlightening way to engage new prospects. I examined two brands that I love  – Embassy Suites and Trader Joe’s – and found themes that both companies use that have helped me to clarify my own brand.  What’s so cool about that activity is that you examine companies that are not in your industry to better strengthen your own company. I found that their focus on over-delivering on value yet charging competitively was an idea that I could incorporate in my own brand.

3. Get clear on who you serve.  It’s amazing how many times I have heard other entrepreneurs share that “I serve everyone” in my business plan camps. It’s impossible for even large multi-national brands with huge advertising budgets to reach everyone in the market.  And yet, when I first started looking at my target customer, I almost started to do the same thing. Yes, I knew that women entrepreneurs were a target but I hadn’t spent time in their “shoes” and really living and understanding  their concerns, needs and values to better position my product. It’s about getting to the core of what keeps them up at night and the language they use to describe their problems. And while I am clear that understanding my target customer will be ongoing in my business, I am happy to say I’ll spend less money on marketing because I have a deeper understanding of the copy and language I can use to attract her and the groups that I can start targeting.

Branding isn’t just for the big guys. In fact, I think its even more important for small businesses because we have to stand out, and make sure that every single dollar spent on marketing and client acquisition pays off. A strong brand with a clear message can help a small business achieve big things.

Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program, delivers the tools and steps you need to grow 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.
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“I received huge value from Brand School. You can’t put a price on that experience. I loved the integrated learning experience and that we walked out of the series with a working brand strategy.” – Rachel Watkins, Brand Development for Large Businesses
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MallaMalla Haridat is an entrepreneurship strategist and founder of Mom and Daughters Inc. As the founder and CEO of New Designs for Life, Malla is a nationally recognized expert in the specialized field of entrepreneurship education and has trained over 1,000 students. Her company was awarded the 2005 New York City Small Business Award of the Year by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and has been featured in publications like The New York Times and on Martha Stewart Radio.

Finding the Right Job Fit: Large vs. Small

Julie Cottineau gives her top tips from her 25+ years at great companies such as Grey, Interbrand and Virgin in this post, “Finding the Right Job Fit: Large vs. Small” from our series providing insight and action steps for those seeking a career in branding. You can read more entries in this Career series HERE

A question I often get from job-seekers is, “What are the trade-offs of working for a big vs. small company or agency?”

“Does size really matter?”

When deciding between a boutique ad agency, a global one, a major mass-marketer client or a small start up, there are definite pros and cons of each you should consider.

For example, if you have wanderlust, like I did a few years out of college, the bigger the better. I was fortunate enough to spend 3 of my 10-year tenure at Grey Global in the Paris office. This was an amazing, life-changing experience (I met my husband, who is French, while living there). Grey had a fairly established program of sending people around the globe. So while I did have to press to be one of the lucky ones chosen for an international assignment, the program was already well-oiled and very much in place.

I’ve also worked at small agencies when I was first starting out and have found several benefits in the boutique model as well.

These include: 1) access to senior mentors, 2) fewer layers often means more responsibility for juniors and, 3) participation in new business.

On our pitches the entire agency got involved instead of just a small select new business team, and I learned a ton.

But my wisest piece of advice to help alleviate some of the worry over the debate of small vs. large is to prioritize these two more important factors: 1) What account am I working on, and 2) Who am I working for?

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These two factors are more important then the number of employees listed in the directory. A dynamic brand- one that you are really passionate about, even at a relatively small, up and coming Agency or a start up, can teach you a lot and you will invest more time and energy into it – and this will shine through in interviews and your resume as your move on after a while to look for your next opportunity.

Also the right boss – someone who will invest in you, share their wisdom, give you tools, feedback and responsibility- in my opinion trumps any factors of big vs. small. It also doesn’t hurt if he/she also has had experience with both big and small Agencies – so you can benefit from both sides of the coin.

Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program, gives you the strategies and tools you need to create a  personal and professional brand that’s a fit in any sized company. 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 join us on Twitter and Facebook for more insight and discussion on branding.

“It was great pulling everything together from touch points, to pillars. I would recommend Brand School to any small biz owner or entrepreneur.” – Sarah W., Entrepreneur