What To Do If Your Brand is Hacked

We’ve been hit with some scary news the past few days! Major brands (Jeep, Burger King, even Viacom’s MTV) are having their Twitter accounts hacked. If these “big boys” are vulnerable, what does that mean for the rest of us? And what can we learn from how they are responding in these time sensitive and potentially brand damaging situations?

Here are 5 tips on what to do if your brand is hacked:

1.   Keep calm and brand on.  Brands are built over time through the consistent delivery of positive experiences. While a hacking incident might be frightening, chances are rare that it will bring the whole empire tumbling down. Look at it as a bump in a road and don’t lose sight of the longer-term relationships that you have built. Focus on growing those and your brand will become stronger as a result.

2.   Enlist the help of loyal fans. Branding is a two-way relationship, and in times of trouble, who better to count on than our friends and fans to pull us through? Reach out to some loyal fans and ask them directly for their support to set the record straight.

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3.   Keep it real. Address the situation head-on and with an honest tone of voice. Communicate to your followers. Yes it sucks, but you’ve got the situation under control. If humor is part of your brand, you may even want to inject that into your response. Hey, with all the brands hackers have to choose from, you’re kind of flattered to be singled out. Right?

4.   Stay on your toes. Brand building is a true discipline. It takes time, constant monitoring and nurturing. Take a lesson from the brands that are able to bounce back quickly and make sure you have the right plan in place for your own brand. Do you have the toolkits, staff and budget set aside for your own brand to react quickly? Consider this a fire drill and make sure you are prepared.

5.   Turn the negative attention into a positive. If your brand is the victim of a hacking incident, use the additional attention it may be getting and turn it into a positive. Now that you’re in the spotlight, use this as an opportunity to highlight a positive brand message and thank your fans for their patience and loyalty.

Has your brand ever been hacked and what did you learn from the experience? We’d love to hear. Email us: julie@herculiz.com or post a comment below.

Knowing how to respond to issues as they arise and having a clear sense of where you want to take your brand is one key to developing a strong brand. Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program, will give you the the tools you need to develop your branding and use it to make your business sing. We give you hands-on exercises, exclusive online videos, and the opportunity to connect with a supportive community of fellow brand-building entrepreneurs. Receive more information about the next semester and also receive free brand-building tools and tips when you join our mailing list.

“BrandTwist helped us tremendously… Julie’s advice helped us be much more focused and effectively boil down all the ideas into a few key concepts.  It saved us a ton of time, and we got to a name – Light After Loss – that resonates with our customers.” – Charles Moore, Founder and CEO, LightPath Apps 

 

Commit to Continual Learning

It’s my final tip in the 13 Tips for Stronger Branding blog series! On behalf of BrandTwist, thank you so much for reading through the posts, and following me on Twitter and Facebook as I posted about all of them. Now, for the final tip…

TIP #13: COMMIT TO CONTINUAL LEARNING 

Branding is as much an art as a science. Even the most skilled brand professionals can benefit from continual learning and challenging themselves mentally. After all, trends in social media and technology are all constantly evolving. Why shouldn’t we? Whether you are just starting out on your branding journey, or have a well-established brand, everyone can use a boost in today’s hyper competitive markets.

Participate in webinars, take classes provided by industry education leaders like General Assembly or Skillshare. Even attending meet ups or networking events organized through your company or in fields you’re curious about are key to your professional development. The growth you do doesn’t need to break the bank, and online learning can be an efficient and effective way to brush up on your d branding skills. You don’t need to spend a fortune on travel or take extra-long breaks at the office. Commit to one hour a day – probably the length of that TV show on Bravo you record on your DVR at home. Take that hour on your lunch break; multitask if you have to. After all, the great entrepreneurs do it. You could be one of them.

IT’S TIME TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL – BRAND SCHOOL

For more actionable strategies, sign up for Brand School, the highly effective, premier program that  teaches you how to grow your business  by building a stronger brand. From bull’s eye targeting to strategic social media and more, Brand School shares current best practices from Virgin and the world’s best brands and shows you how to apply that knowledge to your own business for greater impact from day one.

Learn more HERE.

“Through Julie’s feedback I learned critical information about my demographic audience, what I was trying to say with my story, and what I stood for.” – Lynn Stull, Owner Arts2Thrive

13 Tips For Stronger Branding

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

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You might have been thinking about whether you’ve been bringing your A-game to your branding – let’s face it: creating and maintaining a strong brand can be complicated, but I’m here to show you how to make your branding seamless — and help you understand why doing so is MORE than worth the time you put into it. Start here for 13 tips (yes, 13!) you can apply right now to make your brand and your business stronger.

 TIP #1: LOOK THROUGH YOUR CUSTOMER’S EYES

It’s extremely important to continually look at your brand through your customer’s eyes. After all, brands are relationships, and like every successful romantic relationship, there must be two mutually interested parties. Start 2013 with your first customer experience audit. Map out all the touch points on your customer’s journey. Many companies focus just on when their consumer uses a product or service. I want you to think about the entire process.

Think about the moment your consumer starts to interact with your product up until they set it down, until they leave your business’ environment. Enlist help of friends, interns, and neutral third parties, like that kid in a coffee shop playing on his iPhone 5. Ask all of those people to interact with your brand and report back to you on where they felt engaged and well guided and also moments when they felt abandoned or confused. Make sure to photograph or record the experience so that you have documentation and can reference it whenever you think about engaging with your consumer.

Check out tip #2 in the series, Focus on Usefulness, Not Innovation.

BRANDSCHOOL: WHAT THE FUSS IS ALL ABOUT

Like what you’re reading? For more actionable strategies, consider BrandSchool. BrandSchool is the premier program that teaches you how to grow your business by building a stronger brand. From bull’s eye targeting to strategic social media and more, Brand School shares current best practices from Virgin and other world-leaders in branding and shows you how to apply these lessons to your business for greater impact from day one. Learn more about Brand School HERE

“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 


3 Alarm Bells: It’s Time To Make Your Hobby Your Business

How do you know when it’s time to stand out of your own way, dive in and become an entrepreneur to start your own business? Here are three surefire signs that your time is NOW:

1.You can’t stop obsessing about a better way

We often underestimate our own value as consumers. Many successful businesses, including Virgin (started by my former boss and mentor Richard Branson), get their start by one person being frustrated about the lack of quality options and doing something about it.

If you are constantly moaning that there has to be a better way, maybe it’s time to listen to yourself and do something about it. For example, I know a couple in Brooklyn, originally from Norway, who decided to raise their children here in the US. However, when they went to find quality alpaca and merino wool baby and children’s clothes (the kind they grew up with in Norway), they realized they couldn’t find any.

After some informal market research they realized there was indeed a market need, but no readily available supplier. So they contacted some manufacturers of these clothes back in Norway and struck some distribution deals. The result? Ellaswool.com recently opened online and is developing partnerships with stores up and down the east coast.

Do you find yourself spending more and more time trying to solve your “pet peeve”? Do your friends and family joke that it’s become a bit of an obsession? Maybe it’s time you took the leap (like my Norwegian friends) and followed through to see if your obsession has legs as a business idea.

2. Friends, family (even strangers) constantly encourage you to take the leap

Maybe you’ve already taken the first step to starting a new business, but have limited its scope to smaller, safer “friends and family” markets. Many times we are afraid to make the leap to becoming a broader scale entrepreneur because we are afraid there is not enough demand for our products and services – so we keep our passion as more of a hobby. And despite the overwhelmingly positive response to what we have to offer, we still find excuses not to go forward on a larger scale.

For example, my husband and his friend have been selling organic French crepes out of a makeshift stand at our local farmer’s market for over a year. Every Saturday they are the hit of the market, often they sell out of crepes before the official 1 pm closing time. And if I had a dollar for every time one of their customers asked whether they had a more permanent restaurant near by…  Well, I’d have a lot of cash.

Recently, they finally decided to take the leap and open Grenadine Creperie in our Westchester town. The response has been phenomenal. They are now asking themselves, “why did we wait so long?”.

Are you getting similar positive feedback and dismissing it as people “just being nice”? Maybe it’s time to start paying attention to that praise and looking at it more like market research.

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3.Your day job has become a drain on your reputation, energy and health

What’s the real cost of delaying your dream? Often it can be your reputation, energy … and sometimes even your health. Many entrepreneurs come out when the sun goes down. They work 9 to 5 at a job they are no longer passionate about, but really come alive at night or on the weekends when they can spend time tending to their hobby or their sideline “passion” business.

This is understandable. After all there are bills to pay, college tuitions to save for, the necessary health care benefits that many day jobs cover. But for many entrepreneurs the downside of clocking in every day (for a significant part of your day), working for someone else when you’d rather be starting your own company, can have some tangible, negative consequences.

No matter how good an actor or actress you think you are, chances are your boss notices this dip in enthusiasm, and may even be secretly recording the office time you are using to make phone calls or search the web as research for your passion project. Over time this lack of commitment can lead to a damaged reputation, career stalls or even dismissal… and chances are it won’t be on your own terms.

Also, we all know someone who finally made the move to pursue their passion after a life-changing event brought on by stress (like a heart attack or cancer or someone close to them dying). Do you really want to wait until that happens to you? Or do you want to start something on a positive foot, when you still have your health and energy?

Sound familiar?

Do these examples hit a nerve? Is this year finally going to be the year that you invest in yourself and your dreams? I know it’s a very personal decision. But having started my own business this past year, I can say that my philosophy is that life really is too short and there really is no downside to failure. It’s just a dress rehearsal for ultimate success.

What do you do first? 

So what if you have taken the important first step and acknowledged you are ready to turn your passion into a business… What do you do first? Well, that’s tricky. But what you do during the period to tee up your new business can make a huge difference between success and failure.

For example, spending some time upfront developing your bulls eye target and your core brand promise, can help you crystallize your idea and help all the decisions that entrepreneurs need to make, that much easier and focused. Also, creating an identity and a name for your business can help make it more tangible and help others (potential partners, investors, employees) get more excited and want to help out. Whatever the path you take: The time to act is now. You need to invest in yourself, your future and your happiness.

How do you do that on limited time and budgets? 

Brand School by BrandTwist is the premier program specifically designed for entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them build their brands. Brand School takes best practices of beloved brands such as Virgin, Apple, and Zappos and brings them to life in engaging videos, interactive homework exercises and access to a private community of other entrepreneurs. Learn more about the next semester of Brand School HERE.

The time to act on your dreams is now.

“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 W., Brand School Participant

Want to Get Promoted? Try to Get Fired

Stuck in an innovation rut? Here’s a technique that will help get those creative juices flowing again.

Give yourself this task: “What idea could I come up with that would get me fired?”

I’m not talking about spreading company gossip on Facebook or throwing up all over the CEO at the office summer party.

I’m talking about creating an idea for your brand that seems so patently absurd that it could get you fired.

By thinking in this way, going to the extreme opposite of what’s expected, you actually free up your thinking and might just come up with a nugget of an idea that could be refined into something more plausible, maybe even brilliant and highly marketable.

Here’s an example