So You Want To Work In Branding. Here’s My Advice…

This post, So You Want to Work in Branding. Here’s My Advice… is the first in our series providing insight and action steps for those seeking a career in branding. Julie Cottineau gives her top tips and shares insights from her 25+ years at great companies such as Grey, Interbrand and Virgin. You can read more entries in this Career series HERE

One of my favorite things about spring is – STUDENTS! Every April I get to spend time with undergraduate and graduate students at both Cornell and Columbia – two great universities where I’ve had the good fortune of teaching as an adjunct professor. I also get to connect with students in my own online program, Brand School.

During and after my visits to campus, I receive dozens of questions about pursuing a career in branding touching on a wide array of topics such as: “How do I grow and manage my personal brand?” “Is it better to work at an agency or client-side?” “How do I break into the branding business?”

I’d love to be able to sit down and speak one-on-one with each student about his or her concerns. But unfortunately, my schedule is full to the brim with my brand consultancy BrandTwist, my Brand School program, and two full-time students of my own (a 6th grader and a 10th grader).

But the career concerns of my students are so important; I simply could not let them go. And thus began the foundation for this blog series, So You Want to Work in Branding. Here’s My Advice…  This series is designed specifically for those considering a career in branding. I give my top tips and share with you my insights from over 25+ years at great companies such as Grey, Interbrand and Virgin. If you are curious, you can read more about my background here.

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If you are considering a career in the branding industry, this series is about YOU. The more input you share about your concerns, questions and issues, the more meaningful information I can provide. Leave your input in the comments section below – that way other students (who probably have similar questions) can also join in and benefit from the conversation.

Please realize the point-of-view I express in this blog series is based solely on my own experience. There is no one right way to go about building a career in branding – but that’s part of the fun of it.

WHERE DO I START?

This blog series is a great place to start your process.

Speak to as many people as possible in the industry.

Always have your contact information readily available (yes, we still use actual business cards!). And be ready with a short elevator pitch about your credentials and what makes you a desirable hire. You can read more about honing your elevator pitch here.

Consider the relationship you have with your teachers, professors, and counselors as a wonderful resource. They may have direct referrals for you or give you ideas on where to network.

Additional powerful resources are college club, alumni and fraternity or sorority connections.

GET NOTICED ONLINE

One thing you can start to do right away to flex your branding muscle and increase your visibility is to be a guest author for industry blogs. BrandTwist is always looking for student and guest authors for our blog. Interested? Just send a brief synopsis of your blog idea along with a sample paragraph to Jamie@BrandTwist.com and we will contact you within one week to let you know if your blog idea has been accepted.

Check out the BrandTwist blog list of categories we cover (to the right) and view the latest guest blog posts here.

BrandTwist does not pay for guest blog content, but we will provide you with a byline that includes your contact details. This is a great platform to reach other people who are passionate about brand. Who knows… maybe your future employer will see your blog post and call you for an interview!

JUST ONE MORE THING

You may be tempted to charge ahead with a full-court press when you start to contact your resources and associations, but I urge caution here. There are effective and ineffective ways of making yourself noticeable and accessible. We will cover many of the do’s and don’ts throughout the rest of this blog series, so please stay tuned!

I look forward to sharing with you and hearing from you! Feel free to share this post with any friends you think could also benefit from a smarter job search.

Here’s the next post in the Career series: Network More Effectively to Land the Job.

“Julie’s active participation in Brand School and  feedback was amazing and helped a LOT. I received great value from this program.” – Leslie Hughes, PUNCHmedia 

Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program, will give you the insight and tools you need to get the job done. Receive more information about Brand School’s next session and get free tools and tips when you join our mailing list.

Please also check us out on Twitter and Facebook for more insight and discussion on branding.

Find the Perfect Match for Your Brand

There’s not a lot new about online dating. Or is there? HowAboutWe added a fresh, unexpected twist to their dating service by coming at things from a new angle. It’s not just about finding the right person to go out with, it’s also about figuring out what to do on your date.

This is an online dating site that is offline activity driven. And it’s targeting both singles and couples (another fresh twist).  On the singles side it’s what you want to do that drives the search and makes the headlines rather than a description of yourself. You “create” your ideal date activities to attract those who are interested in doing similar things. On the couple’s side, each person chooses activities they’d like to do and then shares with the other to create a great date. HowAboutWe also offers affordable access to activities and events by extending deeply discounted invitations to its members for exclusive offerings from local resources.

HowAboutWe didn’t invent something new. Online matchmaking and dating sites have become quite commonplace. Discount offers arrive every hour in our email. But HowAboutWe took a fresh look at the dating category – and by putting it all together in one place they are able to stand out in a competitive market.

What can your brand learn from them about creating deeper connections with your customers? Look beyond the table stakes of your category. Ask what else is it that people are seeking – and make that a part of what you deliver. Let’s say you sell teeth whitening strips. Simply put, your product makes teeth whiter. But what people REALLY want from your brand is to feel more appealing with a brighter and more confident smile. Armed with this knowledge you can deliver a stronger, more compelling brand promise. Offer tips on how to take great photographs; give make up advice; share ideas on what to wear to brighten your smile, or simply include more pictures of big beautiful smiles on your website.  You will go beyond users to loyal brand ambassadors.

Digging deep into what your customers are really looking for and recognizing how to more effectively deliver on that is a critical aspect of successful branding and business building. In Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program, you’ll learn how to match your brand promise with your ideal target market. 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

“Quality information. The value is priceless. I loved every minute of it! I’ve recommended Brand School to industry friends and colleagues.” – Barbara Wanzo, Non-profit Homeowner Services

Sweeten Your Brand’s Impact with a Meaningful Cause

Can a product brand have a higher purpose and not seem like it’s just jumping on the “cause” band wagon? Well, we believe that sweetriot has made the cut with grace and impact.

sweetriot makes chocolate candy. Sounds simple enough, but they have taken their brand to another level altogether. They are a mission-based business that wants to “create a more just and celebrated multicultural world for our next generation”. They embrace this idea throughout their company and in every area of brand expression.

How do they succeed in clearly defining their brand promise to make their product and purpose stand out?

Their name says it all. sweetriot immediately implies they are making their voice heard, that they welcome others into the process, and they do it while creating a sweeter place, literally and figuratively. In their own words: “A sweetriot is a joyful celebration of culture, diversity, and understanding — it is the opposite of a civil riot, which is dangerous, violent, and oppressing.”

They are consistent and creative with their use of verbal identity. CEO, Sarah E Endline, calls herself the “Chief Rioter.” Customers are asked to “Join the riot.”  Their chocolate treats are called “peaces.” Their copy reinforces their dedication to fair-trade and social causes that better the communities from where their materials are sourced.Their tagline is “Fixing the world one ‘peace’ at a time. Sweet for the world & sweet for you.”

Their mission is integrated as a part of every aspect of their business – it is not an add-on. It is integral to their products, partnerships and people. They walk the talk.

Their logo helps tell their story. Their logo is a thumbprint and also the globe. Immediately we know sweetriot is aware that they are leaving their personal mark on the world and it serves as a reminder to us that we are, too (everyone has a thumbprint and everyone lives on Earth).  Based in NYC, USA, sweetriot’s brand colors of red, white and blue reflect their company’s origin.

Their packaging is social and unique. sweetriot supports the emerging artists community by featuring works that embrace sweetriot’s culture on the candy wrappers. Works of art to be featured are selected by votes from website visitors.

sweetriot put a creative twist on their brand by directly involving their market and community and by consistently reminding their customers that when they purchase a sweetriot product they are doing more than simply satisfying a chocolate craving.

If executed with authenticity and care, your customers may respond with loyalty and enthusiasm when they realize that by connecting with your product they are in turn contributing to a larger community. Identifying associations that resonate on a meaningful level with your target market takes strategic thinking. Incorporating your promise into your brand identity takes planning. At Brand School, the highly effective, premier branding program, we deliver the tools and steps you need to sweeten your brand and its connection to your market. 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’ve taken quite a few courses on branding and marketing overall. However, what attracted me to Brand School was Julie’s experience with branding from a corporate level.” – Barbara Wanzo, Non-profit Homeowner Services.

Twist Your Brand For New Ideas

BrandTwist: Turn on your inner lightbulb

Let’s not kid ourselves. Branding is tough.

There are so many competing brands and messages, it’s can be hard to capture a consumer’s attention (and his/her buying power). But there are some brands that consistently breakthrough and get recognized. We often fast-forward, mute or pause advertisements, for instance,, but we’ll slow down the DVR to watch especially good ones from Volkswagen, Target or Doritos.

But its not just ads. Products and services capture our attention, too. How many of you have friends that are so completely brand-loyal they’ll tell anyone who’ll listen about the virtues of their favorite brand (I’m thinking of Lululemon in particular)? I know I do. So what are these brands doing that’s helping them cut through the noise and turn consumers into brand ambassadors? More importantly, what can your brand take away from these brands?

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It’s crucial to constantly learn from well-loved brands.

Even the most skilled branders, marketers and entrepreneurs can benefit from brainstorming with others and mentally challenging themselves. But it’s really important to take these lessons from brands that are outside of your business category.What does this kind of lateral thinking have to do with great branding? In a word, everything. As entrepreneurs, business owners and marketers, we’re so concerned with what the competition is doing, we forget to look toward brands that are winning. Consumers don’t have this narrow view. They notice when a brand provides great service, and they come to expect it as standard. That’s good for you if you deliver excellence. If not, well…

BrandTwist’s foundation is built on lateral thinking, in part because it’s so effective, and in part because it helps others to be just as successful. Even if you’re a business of one, you can use best practices of brands like Apple to improve your own customer experience. The trick is to pick an inspirational brand that is as far away from your business category as possible. Let’s say you sell lingerie to women; you should twist your brand with a masculine, high-tech brand like BMW. What would BMW do to rev up your business? Think big picture. I guarantee that if you twist your business with just a few brands in other categories, you’ll come up with hundreds of actionable new ideas in a short amount of time.

COME TWIST WITH ME – AND TEST DRIVE SUCCESS

Receive information about priority registration for the next session of Brand School, the premier branding program designed specifically for business owners and entrepreneurs who want to grow their business, and receive our top tips and brand-building tools when you join our mailing list.

“Julie’s active participation in Brand School and  feedback was amazing and helped a LOT. I received great value from this program.” – Leslie Hughes, PUNCHmedia          

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10 Ways to Say Thank You to Your Clients this Holiday

Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season and it’s a great time to start to say thank you to your clients and customers. Whether you are a life coach, marketing consultant, personal trainer or a candle maker. Your business only survives (and thrives) because there are people out there who are willing to choose your brand out of all the many options available. Why not take a minute to say thanks?

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Here’s 10 easy and effective ways to show your gratitude. They don’t have to cost a lot of money. Mostly it takes an investment in a small amount of time. But isn’t that worth it for people who have demonstrated that they are also invested in your success?

  1. Like their fan page on face book, follow their business on twitter, repin something from their Pinterest page
  2. Offer to do a testimonial (written or video) for their website
  3. Add a positive review of their product on line
  4. Introduce them to 5 of your friends or clients that could use their services
  5. Give them a free “tune up” session  (ex. free hour of coaching)
  6. Send a donation in their name to a charity they would like
  7. Do a free diagnostic of their website/marketing and suggest improvements
  8. Offer to write a guest blog post for their site
  9. Invite them as your guest to a relevant industry conference
  10. Share with them your best kept secret suppliers who do great work at low cost

I am sure there are many more. We’d love to hear from you on how you say thanks.

What’s you twist?

We’re regularly posting free, actionable branding advice like this on the BrandTwist newsletter. To receive all the latest updates, tips and tools, sign up HERE. And to for even more about creating a stronger brand and business, check out Brand School, the premier program that gives you all the knowledge and hands-on experience you’ll need to build a more profitable brand.

“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