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.

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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.

For the next 5 weeks, we’re going to talk about how you can go on your own Brand Safari, and what to look for. Even better, this series is leading up to a Brand Safari in NYC at the Flagship Microsoft Experience Store – that 30 lucky applicants will be able to attend.

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.

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Small Business Brand TWISTS – Dr. Tim Aquatics

Dr. Tim runs an aquarium supply company and has an impressive list of professional credentials including a Ph.D. in ecology, evolution and marine biology. Before Brand School, the “about me” section of his website was a laundry list of academic degrees, published articles, industry titles and honors, but it practically required a Ph.D. to read and understand it.

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The problem?

His ideal target included regular “Joe” aquarium enthusiasts who are looking for support in keeping their aquariums healthy and vibrant. Through the work Tim did in Brand School, he transitioned his brand idea from “science-based solutions” to “success at any level.” He now deliberately presents a less intimidating, more welcoming user experience (complete with an interactive recipe TWIST – think of your favorite Food Network show) where buyers feel more at ease to interact with the brand and ask more questions.

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Do you see the difference this personal and authentic TWIST adds?

 

It makes his brand more approachable, more relatable, and more likely to attract the amateur aquarium enthusiast who might be turned off by a brand that seems too scientific and overly authoritative.

“Before Brand School, we were more a ‘science’ brand but now the brand is about being a natural fish care company.  That was common with dogs and cats but we were the first with fish. The products, liquids, and fish food are natural and that resonates with consumers who see fish and an aquarium as a slice of nature in their home.”

That wasn’t the only way Tim used the TWIST lessons he learned in Brand School. They also used a TWIST to overcome objections when launching a new product.

 

“We had developed the first 100% natural, non-GMO fish food but a possible roadblock was the customer had to make it themselves which takes only 5 minutes to make a month’s worth of food.  So we twisted that possible negative – “Oh, I have to make the fish food” into a positive “ Really, I can make my own fish food”  by adding our EXTRAS which are various additions (think of them as spices) that one adds to food to customize it for their fish.”

“The EXTRAS come in pepper grinders so the consumer literally ‘twists’ the EXTRAS into the food before placing the food in the freezer to gel. This makes the food easy to demonstrate and you see the smile on people’s faces as they instantly see this is fun and not hard at all.  We even had a major store in NJ have their clerks dress up as cooks and demo the fish food – it’s a great YouTube video”.

Tim now has a powerful understanding of how to use TWISTS in his brand, but it he admits it wasn’t always easy.

 

“Initially it was hard to maintain focus and concentrate on running everything through the pillars but, as with most things, the more you do it the easier it gets and, this is the surprise, it actually makes it easier to make decisions. It if doesn’t fit – it’s out.”

“You have to trust the process. It was such a great experience for me. Though, after delving in, doing the work is hard. There is resistance, but having access to Julie with the one-on-one meetings helped to move the needle so we can continue in breaking through with a more creative flair to our brand. I’m so grateful I went through it.”

Opera With A More Approachable TWIST

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Opera is an elite art form, with high ticket prices only available to a select few. Right? Wrong!

The Metropolitan Opera continues its 10-year tradition with a TWIST of live transmission of season openers on multiple screens in Times Square.

Last year viewers were treated to Verdi’s Otello. This year it was Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, which will also be screened in 100 movie theaters around the world – offering yet another, more affordable way for the brand to broaden its reach.

This might seem like a bad idea of “giving away” content, when it could be purchased at higher prices. But it’s actually a smart strategy of reaching out to new users who might be unfamiliar with opera and intimidated by an unfamiliar experience in the ritzy Metropolitan Operah House.  Plus it creates good will and great publicity.

What products or services could your business offer with the TWIST of being free or available in unexpected venues to widen your reach?

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Finding the right TWIST can help your brand innovate and deliver. In TWIST: How Fresh Perspectives Build Breakthrough Brands, Brand School founder Julie Cottineau provides a clear road map to build a stronger more distinctive brand – complete with examples from real life small business owners who have successfully completed our Brand School program. Pick up your copy today.

A Delightfully Cheesy Twist

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A sure way to your customers’ hearts is to make it easy for them to enjoy you anywhere and any time. This creative TWIST was produced by German ad agency Kolle Rebbe for The Deli Garage, a food label that supports small manufacturers of delicacies, as a limited first edition of 500. It was sold out 2 weeks after its launch!

Take a Pencil & Sharpener, twist it with parmesan cheese and you have Parmesan Pencils, a unique product that permits cheese-lovers to have freshly-grated cheese close at hand. The Parmesan Pencil “Sharper” flakes the cheese, and you can keep your “pencils” right in a briefcase or purse. Isn’t everything better with cheese?

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Helping your customers getting easier access to your brand will turn casual buyers into loyal ambassadors. What TWIST can you add to make your product or service always top of mind?

Brand School gives you the tools to develop innovative touch points with a TWIST. Find out if your business qualifies for a one-on-one Brand Health Check Strategy Session HERE.

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“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

A Travel Twist for Pets

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Every pet owner who travels – and can’t bring their pet along – knows how inconvenient it can be to deal with the scheduling around boarding their pets. Most conventional pet boarders aren’t open 24/7 for drop off and pick up, which means extra boarding days for your pet, extra time off work and extra expense for you. But, what if you took a pet boarding & grooming facility put it right at the airport, kept it accessible 24/7 and offered terminal shuttle service and discount airport parking?

You’d have THE solution to every traveling pet owner’s need… and you’d have the hottest growing trend in pet boarding being offered by businesses like Now Boarding and Pet Paradise  – Airport Pet Hotels.

They conveniently place hotels for people at airports, why not for people’s pets?

“We’re running a hotel, but instead of people, we check in dogs, cats, the occasional pot-bellied pig and, once, some llamas.” says Pet Paradise Founder Fred Goldsmith.

How can you make your service or access to your business more convenient? Take a look at where you are not – and consider why you should be there.

Brand School takes a look at best practices of successful businesses and shows you how to twist and apply them to grow your brand. Learn more about what our Brand School Faculty can do for you HERE.

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“Julie gave great examples in Brand School that inspired me to think outside the box. I especially appreciate her attention to everyone’s brands and her insightful comments. Thank you!” – Jamie Lacroix, Marketing Department for a Non-profit