6 Graduate Gifts with a TWIST

It’s officially graduation season, and the pressure to find the perfect gift is on. Whether it be high school, college, or a pursuit of other higher education, your graduate has worked hard. Keep reading to discover brands and products with a TWIST that your graduate will love.

Ban.do Planner and Stationery

Ban.do planner and stationery

Many schools provide their students with a planner with space for schedules and notes, but what these planners lack is personality. Ban.do is a stationery brand that specializes in planners with a TWIST. They come with fun stickers, and each monthly page is adorned with artwork by independent artists. Give the gift of practicality with style, and help your college freshmen stay on top of their studies, and your newly minted adults a way to keep track of their appointments. Get it here.

A Guide to Adulting

Grow the F*ck Up by John Kyle

Just because they’ve graduated, doesn’t mean that they know how to navigate the world just yet. Instead of throwing them into the unknown, nudge them in the right direction with a hilarious guide to adulthood and doing things on their own. From useful tips like how to do laundry to financial advice about credit cards and loans, John Kyle’s got adulting with a TWIST covered with Grow the F*ck Up.

Travel

FlightGiftCard

One of the major limitations of traveling is the cost. Traveling is a great way for your giftee to experience the world and all of its cultures. Flight tickets can be expensive, so knocking down some of that expense will have your grad feeling grateful. This is super helpful for those grads planning a semester abroad.

While some airlines have their own specific gift cards, FlightGiftCard is a great TWIST on limitless travel because they can choose from over 300 airlines to get to their dream destination.

MUJI

MUJI

If you’ve ever walked into a MUJI flagship store, you know that the brand brings minimalism to a new level. MUJI’s simplistic design in everything from their refillable pens to their storage units appeals to those who want a clean look for their home. If your graduate is moving into a not-so-spacious college dorm or their first adult apartment, MUJI is the spot to take organization to the next level with a minimalist TWISTall with an affordable price tag.  Check out the MUJI website here.

Urban Outfitters

Urban Outfitters

For the past couple years, items deemed “vintage” have been trending. Old-school favorites like the record player and film cameras have made a comeback, and Urban Outfitters is a retail store that has played a role in the revival. Feed your own nostalgia, and give your grads a gift of timeless cool with a modern TWIST.

The Personal and Professional TWIST

TWIST: How Fresh Perspectives Build Breakthrough Brands by Julie Cottineau

Give your grad the gift of getting noticed. Standing out in the bigger pond of college or the competitive job market is important to embracing all of the opportunities in front of them. Help them advance in both their personal and professional life with a signed copy of Julie Cottineau’s TWIST: How Fresh Perspectives Build Breakthrough Brands. Add a personal touch by including their name in the order for the dedication.  

If your grad isn’t all that into reading, or you’d like to help expand their knowledge even further, consider a BrandTwist Personal Brand Plan. Maximize their potential with this 30-minute strategy session that will help your grad to seize the opportunities that they deserve, and distinguish them from the rest of the pack.

This post was researched and written by our own BrandTwist intern and soon-to-be graduate Mijyo Sasaki. She is a graduating senior at Dobbs Ferry High School who will be attending RIT in the fall to pursue International Business and Marketing, and has a passion for the fashion industry. Thanks Mijyo! We love your TWISTS and wish you all the best in college.

How to Create Brand Ambassadors

“Launching A Business Is Essentially An Adventure In Problem-Solving”. Richard Branson

Great brands change people’s lives. They make it easier to get things done, open our eyes to new solutions, connect us with like-minded communities and help us to accomplish more. One of the things we a explore on BrandTwist Brand Safaris is how exactly brands solve their customer’s’ problems – and what lessons can your business learn and TWIST with to create loyal brand ambassadors.

Does your customer have a problem with too many options?

Birchbox is a great example of a brand that has solved the issue of how to choose from the hundreds, if not thousands, of new beauty products that seem to pop up every day.  They’ve taken the overwhelm out of the beauty shopping experience by curating customizable sample boxes that are delivered each month to your doorstep. You then decide in the comfort of your own home what works for you- and then can easily click through on their site to buy any of the products you’ve tried in a low commitment trial size.

BrandTwist Blog template (8)While the brand exists mainly online, they have a brick and mortar store in SoHo. This is one of the favorite stops on our Safari. Our attendees walk away inspired with new ways to make it easier for their customers (in categories way outside beauty) to make confident choices.

Sonos, another favorite Safari stop, is also a great example of a brand that helps their customers solve the problem of what sound system to buy – by showing their product integrated into real life scenarios. This is a big TWIST from the big box electronic retailers where the components are stacked on shelves with no way to evaluate the product.

At the Sonos brand experience store in SoHo – you enter into different rooms where you can sit back and enjoy the music – in different set ups with different components- and make a smarter choice about what’s actually going to work in your home.

The starting location for our next Brand Safari, Microsoft, is another example of problem-solving. In addition to enabling customers to engage with the computers, software, and even video game systems before they buy, they offer support and classes to solve the problem of not being able to take full advantage of your purchase.

Today’s buyer in any category has almost too many options. How can your business TWIST lessons from these solution focused brands to help offer real value to your customers?

Our next BrandTwist Brand Safari is coming up, be sure to reserve your spot now to save as part of our Back to School Back to Brand Building event.

 TWIST Book Julie Cottineau

Walk Your Talk by Living Your Brand Promise Every Day

Last week we talked about the importance of Transcending the Ordinary, the issue is though that it can’t end with one idea or one-touch point. It’s critical that you are living and breathing your TWIST. That’s why this week I’m sharing two brands who walk the talk.

What does “Walk the Talk” mean?

Brands that “Walk the Talk”  are brands that live their brand values – they don’t just talk about them, they bring them to life through their actions and behaviors. Employees are a key touch point for the brand and important brand ambassadors.

REI is a great brand to visit on a BrandTwist  Safari. It has many touch points which help set this brand apart and are on proud display in the stores, in walking the talk. One of the brand missions of REI is “dedicated to inspiring, educating and outfitting for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship”. They showcase this in the store, but also share it with the “employee in action” wall. This is a whole wall of photos showcasing employees participating in outdoor activities.

 REI BrandTwist Brand Safari Brand Inspiration

Do you walk the talk even when it’s the opposite of what everyone else is doing?

One of the most publicized ways they speak to that mission is the award winning #OptOutside campaign. Instead of opening their doors on Black Friday (or even Thanksgiving) they forgo the sales and urge not only customers, but employees to go outside. This also speaks to their business model. In 1938 REI launched, and in their own words they chose to begin a “consumer co-op, rather than a publicly-traded company, enables us to focus on the long-term interests of the co-op and our members. We answer to you—our members—and run our business accordingly.”

Do you and your employees walk the talk?

To really ingrain this experience at every touch point it starts with employees. Microsoft, for example, starts every morning with the Microsoft team doing a “Stand Up” meeting where they get the employees excited for the day- sort of a pep rally based on the brand values. And they end the day with a similar “Stand Down” meeting- recognizing and celebrating the positive on-brand behaviors of the team members during the day, and no doubt discussing how to continuously improve.

 How can your business be inspired by great brands like Microsoft and REI to “Walk the Talk”? Are you brand values celebrated front and center? Are you and your team living them every day?

TWIST Book Julie Cottineau

Transcend the Ordinary and Rise Above Your Competition

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 6.59.13 AMNow that we’ve got you planning your next Brand Safari it’s time to figure out what to look for. Over the next few weeks, we’ll talk about what we look for on our BrandTwist Brand Safari’s, kicking off with T – Transcend the Ordinary.

Today we’re going to talk about how brands like Coco-Mat and Microsoft transcend the ordinary with their customers by allowing customers to experience their brands in a way that’s different from anyone else.

Let’s start with talking about what it means to transcend the ordinary, I think it’s about looking for brands that go beyond what’s expected. Transcend ordinary experiences to provide something fresh. It’s about how your clients experience your brand. Coco-Mat and their flagship store is a great example of this.

Can buying a mattress be relaxing?

On a recent Safari, we visited the iconic Coco-Mat store in SoHo for some hands on inspiration that attendees then TWISTED with their own businesses. Coco-Mat has shaken up the mattress category on every level by providing mattresses that are customizable by layer and made with all natural materials- like coconut fiber (hence the name). No metal springs are used. That’s not even the best TWIST though.

Cocomat Brand Safari BrandTwist Brand Experience

They also have TWISTED the sales experience and transcended the sometimes stereotypical pushy mattress seller to a more thoughtful and zen experience. Their sleep specialists invite you to spend a few hours or even the night in a special “nap suite” in their SoHo store. They will make up the bed with the exact mattress you are thinking of purchasing. So you are sure that it’s the right fit. There’s a bathroom with shower in the suite and calming scents and decor.

It’s shifting an experience that can be stressful and frustrating and instead allowing you to experience the ease of their company at every step. It’s a completely unique experience that turns category norms on their heads. How can you relieve any friction in your buying experience for your customers- and make the process of engaging with your business as smooth and “dreamy” as possible?

How does Microsoft transcend the ordinary?

The idea of letting potential customers experience your brand instead of selling them on the idea is something Microsoft has done well with their flagship store in New York. Which is exactly why we’ll be hosting a Brand Safari in the NYC Experience Store there in September.

Microsoft experience stores give potential customers the opportunity to interact with the products. This helps them fall in love through learning more about the features. This is evident in the innovative Youth Spark coding camps.

These camps not only serve the community (another way to transcend) but it also gives consumers the opportunity to engage with the product, and fall in love with a product.

How can you transcend the ordinary?

Now it’s time for action, look for brands that turn the category norms on their heads. Remember, the best brands to TWIST with are outside of your category so get creative. Think about brands you love or have experienced that provide the opposite of what you expect (ex. a zen mattress buying experience instead of a stressful one).

Then TWIST this with your business. How can you tackle head on and rise above the common pain points in your category to provide a fresh, memorable and compelling brand experience?

Don’t forget to stay tuned, we’ll be talking about Walking the talk when we return with our next post.

Can’t wait to experience the TWIST for yourself? Grab one of our limited Safari spots for September here.

TWIST Book Julie Cottineau

Get Out From Behind Your Desk – Go Experience Brands

Are you experiencing the world through your computer or phone screen?  As a small business owner or entrepreneur, you need to hit the streets, experience the brandscape through the eyes of your customers – to truly know how to meet their needs and offer something of value that will break through the competitive clutter and get noticed.

This is why BrandTwist Safaris are so valuable because they take us out of our every day and put us in the center of experiences where we learn important lessons about branding which are then applied directly through Interactive, hands-on exercises to TWIST that inspiration and create actionable innovative brand ideas for new products or services.

BrandTwist Safaris have been applied successfully for companies like Virgin and Spotify in iconic neighborhoods including Times Square, SoHo and Rockefeller Center. The good news is they can happen anywhere.

Microsoft Experience BrandTwist Brand Safari Experience

Can you build your brand by hanging out in a lego store?

Big brands, like Microsoft, are building flagship stores all over the world to change how their customers engage with their brand. Allowing customers to experience a brand by touching and feeling, or even playing with the brand.

You don’t need to be in Manhattan to do a BrandTwist Safari, you don’t even need to be in a large city. The most important thing is to pick locations/experiences to visit that are 1) away from your category – to maximize the freshness of the ideas and 2) are locations that connect deeply with their targets. Don’t forget, the value is about getting out of your everyday and away from your own business.

If you are not sure where you would go on a BrandTwist Safari ask yourself these question:

  1. What are the brand experiences that really engage people?
  2. What’s hot and why?
  3. What’s a best-kept local secret?
  4. Where do all the teens love to go?
  5. Where do the tourists go in your town or city?
  6. Where does the customer service rock?

No matter where you go, the trick to getting the most out of your Brand Safari is to observe and record what is going on around you – bring a notebook or a clipboard with paper, take photographs, buy something from the store or location and see what the purchase experience is like and the packaging. Do they give you your purchase in a plain paper or plastic bag – or does the brand use the packaging as a walking billboard – like the Build-a-Bear Cardboard bear homes?

Dig into the details, that’s where the best insights are and write everything down. You never know what could inspire your own TWIST later.

Stay tuned for our next post, we’re going to dig in on some specific details around where to go and how to TWIST those valuable insights with your own business.

TWIST Book Julie Cottineau