3 Signs Your Brand Has the Blues – And How To Shake Them Off

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Could your brand have seasonal mood disorder? It’s possible. Many of us find it challenging to stay motivated – and it can be particularly hard to jump-start our lives after the bustle of the holidays, and winter’s colder weather and shorter days are no help. It’s hard to focus on business-building when you’d rather hibernate. But we’ve got some sure-fire ways to bust your brand out of the winter blues.

Watch a replay of our webcast that will help you banish the brand blues “The Yin and Yang of Powerful Brand Stories” with BrandTwist Founder & CEO and former VP of Brand for Virgin Julie Cottineau and Head of Creative Planning at iStock Rebecca Swift. 

Here are three “Brand Blues” symptoms to look for and ideas to get your business back on track:

1) You’re feeling the Brand Love, but not the Cash

You’ve got something special to offer, and you’re connecting with people that your product or service could help. They seem interested, but when it comes to the moment of truth they’re just not buying. This is the dating equivalent of being told “you’re nice but let’s just be friends”

This usually happens when you don’t really understand your ideal customer and what they need. What keeps them up at night? And what triggers are going to help them move from being a “Brand-friend” to a committed “Brand user and fan”?

We spend quite a bit of time on defining our Bull’s Eye target in our Brand School program for small businesses. The most important part of making sure you’ve got a vibrant brand is targeting the right people, understanding their motivations, and speaking directly to those feelings to get them to act.

Take a look at your website (or your primary marketing vehicles) and ask yourself honestly…is it clear who this product or service is for and why should they buy it?

Does it present a clear statement of a problem and a solution that’s going to shake people out of their own doldrums, get them to identify with what you are promising and take action?

Before you re-do your website, or any other marketing materials – stop and think about your target – who they are and what they need. Don’t worry about being too narrow.  It’s better to connect with fewer people who actually buy your product or service, then have a lot of generic messaging that appeals to everyone, but converts no one.

2) You’re Bored with your own Brand

When you work day in and day out on the same business in the same category it’s hard to keep the fresh ideas flowing. But we need innovation to drive interest and keep our customers coming back.

While Brand Boredom is understandable, it can be harmful to your business. When you’re not excited about what you’re promoting – this comes across loud and clear to customers – in face to face meetings and even online.

So how do you keep it fresh? You need to TWIST it up.  When you stay too focused on your competitors and your own category, you end up with “me too” brands.

We believe you need to look at old problems from new and different angles. This is where the TWIST in BrandTwist comes in.

Leverage this lateral thinking by imagining what a beloved brand (in a different category) would do if it took over your business. How would this brand use its DNA to innovate your market?  Twist an inspirational brand (ex. Virgin, Zappos, Starbucks, Apple) with yours and see the impact it can have in creating fresh ideas for your business.

If you own a dry cleaning business you might want to TWIST it with Starbucks.  We’re not suggesting you serve better coffee to waiting customers. We want you to dig deeper. Think about how Starbucks customizes each order – could you offer a new type of dry-cleaning service where you offer a menu of customized options? “I’ll take a ½ starch, ½ steam no hanger pressing please.”

Innovation is critical in creating strong brands. Our Brand School curriculum offers several specific lateral thinking exercises and teaches you how to apply the TWISTS of break through brands to your business.

3) You have too many ideas and no idea how to move forward

For some people, the source of brand blues is having too many ideas. Many business people have an idea a day (if not a minute) and this can be overwhelming. It can lead to a crippling condition we call “fear of the idea”. Every new idea brings up a whole new level of stress on how you’re going to execute it.  This state can actually lead to a situation where nothing gets done.

Have no fear. The trick is in prioritizing which ideas to pursue and breaking down the steps to move them forward.

Look for ideas that have both high feasibility and high impact. By high feasibility we mean ideas that can be reasonably implemented. They may take some investment in resources or partners, but they don’t require inventing a completely new manufacturing process or any involvement from NASA. By high impact, we mean the ideas that would appeal strongly to your target and support your brand’s overall authority and distinctiveness.

Lastly, we recommend that you break down these ideas into small actionable steps. Instead of saying “I need to create a fresh, new killer website” we recommend breaking it into smaller steps that you will actually get done. For example, asking friends via Facebook and LinkedIn for web designer recommendations, investigating online resources like 99 Designs, creating a web design brief, and identifying 3 websites you admire (and pinpoint why) so you can share them as examples with your designer when you find them

We also recommend finding a Branding Buddy to keep you accountable and moving forward. Weekly check-ins (over Skype or coffee) will help you keep moving ahead. Program these into your calendar – pick a consistent day and time that works for you and your buddy and make these meetings a high priority.

In Brand School Master Class we have found that creating a private community of like-minded entrepreneurs to support one another and hold each other accountable is a very effective way to help everyone stay on track and bring their ideas to market.

We know its cold and your brand might be feeling the winter blues right now, but with a bit of ingenuity, discipline and the right kind of support your business can emerge into Spring stronger and more invigorated.

Interested in more brand building tips? Make sure you check out our Brand School Master Class site and join our mailing list. You will get a free e-book “Brand Like a Billionaire – 5 Tips I learned from Richard Branson”. You can also learn how to qualify for a FREE one-hour strategy Brand Health Check session with Julie (valued at $500).

AND don’t forget to watch “The Yin and Yang of Powerful Brand Stories” FREE webcast replay with BrandTwist Founder & CEO and former VP of Brand for Virgin Julie Cottineau and Head of Creative Planning at iStock Rebecca Swift  – all about on Visual and Verbal Branding.

In just one hour you’ll bash your brand blues and learn:

  • How to get your brand noticed by creating a compelling story using pictures and language.
  • The three main tones that resonate with customers.
  • How the verbal and visual balance helps your business succeed.

Watch it HERE.

 

5 Healthy Habits of Highly Successful Solopreneurs

Many entrepreneurs and business owners encounter a unique challenge: how to re-charge physically and emotionally and still have energy left for business. This guest post, 5 Healthy Habits of Highly Successful Solopreneurs, gives easy, effective ways to cultivate habits that will increase both health and wealth. It is from the LiveAWholeLife.net blog by Debra Boulanger. Read more about Deb and LiveAWholeLife.net, below.

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As a solopreneur, you drive yourself pretty hard to get the exposure you need to succeed and delight the clients you win over. It takes a lot of energy, heart and mental prowess to engage and attract your ideal clients. What habits can you cultivate that will increase both your health and your wealth?

You may speak from the stage, participate in telesummits, write blogs, record videos, send newsletters, network and partner with other solopreneurs and sponsor events.You likely have a marketing plan, financial plan, and annual goals. Your to-dos are a mile long, but where and how do you show up on your own list of things to do? How do you care for your body, mind and soul to do this important work that you do?

While marketing plans, financial plans and budgets are critical, they are not responsible for your success.

You show up in life at a cellular level. Everything you eat, every thought that has crossed your mind, every emotion you feel and even the amount of sleep you got last night are all a part of what is making up ‘you’ today. Right here. Right now. If you are not taking care of yourself, you won’t be able to serve those around you very well either.

Here are the five healthy habits of highly successful solopreneurs that I recommend you cultivate if you want to run at peak performance:

1. Eat based on how you want to feel. Different foods affect your body and mind in different ways. What’s on your agenda today? How do you want to feel while you are doing that? Eat the food that will make you feel that way.

2. Drink lemon water. Not only does it taste good, it acts as a natural diuretic and helps alkalize your bloodstream – making it less likely that you will get allergies, colds or flu.

3. Add superfoods to your regime. Trouble focussing on one thing? Tired of that afternoon crash? Certain superfoods can calm your anxious mind, even out your blood sugar, give you more energy, have you thinking more clearly and give your libido a boost too. My top two are cacao and maca. See the full list at: MyHealthyFoodGuide.com

4. Get your fill of primary foods. While food is important, rarely do any of us ever go hungry. Yet, sometimes we are starved for love, friendship, and connection. If you find yourself opening the pantry or the fridge way too often, check in and ask yourself, “What am I really hungry for?” Look at areas of your life that may be lacking. Are you spending enough time with friends? Getting the love you deserve? Getting enough exercise? Spending time in quiet reflection? Whatever it is you are hungry for, go get more of that thing. Feed your soul as well as your stomach.

5. Create balance and space. If you work alone in a home office, it’s easy to let the boundaries bleed between work and home. Make sure you are creating balance. Meditation can help you to stop running on autopilot and become more centered in the present moment. Journaling can quell the judging voices inside; get you in touch with gratitude and give you space to reflect on your intentions.

Remember to get up and dance often! Life is a great ride and it’s really, really short.

debraboulingerAbout the author: Debra Boulanger

Debra (Deb) Boulanger is the founder of Live a Whole Life where she helps business women over 40 enjoy greater health, unstoppable energy and the super sharp brain power to rock it in business. As a business owner and a single mom herself she knows firsthand what it’s like to be pulled in many different directions.

Prior to founding Live a Whole Life, Deb enjoyed a very successful 25-year product management and marketing career in the professional services industry.

Today, she’s a certified holistic health coach and runs the very successful Feeding Your Freedom program. She speaks with hundreds of women each year through conferences, teleseminars and syndicated radio. Connect with Deb on Facebook at Live A Whole Life With Debra Boulanger, and on Twitter she’s @debraboulanger.

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

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Necessity is the Mother of Brand Invention

“Necessity is the mother of invention.” That expression is as true today as it was when Plato first wrote it, circa 450 BC.

Here is another catchy term, “evergreen topic.” Meaning, a subject  that will always be of great interest to people. One of the biggest evergreen topics is health. If there is such a thing as a health bandwagon, it sure seems like EVERYONE is on it. Now, let’s take all of the above and create a little equation: Necessity + Invention + Evergreen = Brad’s Raw Chips.

Brad’s Raw Chips are a gluten-free, organic, vegan, kosher snack food. Founded by Brad Gruno, who had no experience what-so-ever with baking, cooking or nutritional health products. In fact, he had worked in the telecommunications industry for over 20 years, was 40 pounds overweight with high cholesterol, and was depressed… you get the picture. When Brad decided to get on a healthier track by following a raw diet, he found what he missed most was the flavorful, spicy taste and crunch of snack foods. Out of sheer desperation he began to “play” with kale. He made a kale “chip” and shared samples with friends and family and ta-da… Brad’s Raw Chips were born. Now, he’s expanded the line with other veggies, crackers, and even a snack biscuit for dogs.

It was Brad’s personal quest which led him to focus on a single product that made him stand apart from the thousands of snack foods lining the market shelves. Sharing his story and mastering one specific, singular niche, actually ended up enabling product development and market expansion.

Don’t be put off by taking a look at your own life. What you might want or need may be just the thing to fill a gap in the marketplace, too.

Your target market may have a lot more in common with you and your story than you think. When you share your story you add a deeper dimension to the user experience. You open the way for your customer to identify with you and feel a genuine connection with your brand.

Necessity may be the mother of invention, but identifying your specific niche and honing your brand’s story takes strategic cultivation. Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program, will give you actionable steps and strategies that you can use to grow an evergreen brand.  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 was starting my business from scratch and was all over the place when started the course. Brand School really helped me focus. I came out of it with a foundation for my brand that I know will work. Without Brand School, it never would have happened.” – Nicole Lesser, Entrepreneur

Deliver Your Elevator Pitch with a Twist

You only get one chance to make a first impression, make sure you’re ready to seize your moment.

No matter what category your brand competes in, it’s becoming harder to stand out since your potential customers are bombarded with so much information every day. That’s why it’s so important to have a really tight elevator pitch. It helps people “get” what you stand for right away and then quickly decide whether they want to learn more about your brand.

Write down your pitch in no more than 250 words and continue to practice and perfect it. Start with one headline promise that highlights what your brand enables, not what you offer – and three support points. Rotate and freshen these points depending on your target audience, but be prepared to tell your story in the time it would take to travel 3 elevator flights, not 30 or even 10.

Learn more about honing your elevator pitch in the 8 tips here:

1. Pay attention to your audience, what motivates them? Your pitch can and should vary somewhat by audience, know what your “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 a movie, 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.

MAKE YOUR PITCH EVEN BETTER WITH BRAND SCHOOL 

Brand building doesn’t mean just designing a pretty logo and creating a cool name. It means choosing a bull’s eye target and defining your unique brand promise to connect with your consumers on an emotional level. Bottom line: you need to pay attention to your brand if you’re not already. And perfecting your elevator pitch is a huge part of that.

Now you can, with Brand School’s highly effective, premier branding program.  Brand School takes best practices of beloved brands such as Virgin, Apple, and Zappos and teaches you how to apply their knowledge to build your brand. We give you engaging videos, interactive exercises and exclusive access to a private community of fellow entrepreneurs. Learn more about the next session of Brand School HERE.

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