The real “owner” of your brand – is your target

Brands are  relationships. And like romantic relationships, they are only healthy when you are in one with someone who really values what you have to offer.

That’s why every semester in Brand School we focus on answering 4 major questions with our students- and these 4 questions begin with the most critical question – “WHO do you want to be in a relationship with?”

Who – are the most important targets for the brand?
What – is going to compel them to choose and stay loyal?
Why – should these high-priority targets believe?
How – is the brand felt at every touch point?

In the lingo of today’s teens – a group for whom relationships are everything… who is your B.A.E? Your ideal target that you want and need to attract “Before Anyone Else”.

Brand School Alumni Brooke Nalle shares how zeroing on her BAE was the key to finding her Twist and growing her business.

Brooke Nalle of Sleepy on Hudson had a big breakthrough when she realized her TWIST wasn’t about helping babies sleep, it was about helping parents sleep. During the course of our conversation, we talked about a brand lesson that surprised her and she shared something really important for all of us to remember, “That my business, my brand, is about the woman who finds me, hires me.  She is not just a mother; she is a professional, a wife, a friend.”

The impact for Brooke’s business really came as she dove into the Target Audience exercise in brand school and looked at her target audience not as a woman with a child, but at all the things that woman is. That clarity allowed her to implement big changes and see fun results.

Women 25-54 is not a target.

When you’re targeting women 25-54, you’re looking too broadly. You are not really diving into what makes them tick and what keeps them up at night.  This makes it hard to really connect your brand values and promise with what they need. That’s why we create Bull’s Eye Target Personas and really dive into your target- so we can create marketing that goes directly to their hearts (not just their heads) and turns them into loyal brand ambassadors.

Let’s look at an example, Apple. I think we can all agree that people ages 3 to 83 use and love Apple products, but Apple built a strong brand by focusing on the 20-30 year old digital native -someone who is tuned in and comfortable with technology. By designing a brand experience to a narrower target, someone we all aspire to be, Apple has created an iconic brand that never discounts and is always in high demand and that attracts a broad range of loyal followers. They would not have made the same impact if they targeted “3-83”.

The foundation of your brand is your Target Audience, join our Brand School experts for a 30-minute call to focus in on your target audience. During this call, you’ll walk away with actionable next steps and clarity around how to answer the critical question of “Who is your brand’s B.A.E?”. Book your call now.

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Why Brands Like American Girl Build Fans Not Customers

Great brands touch consumers hearts, not just their heads. They go beyond rational proof points and connect on an emotional level, and that’s why it’s the last criteria for the brands we choose on our BrandTwist Safari. So our Safari attendees can see brands that get this.

These brands know that branding is a relationship, not a transaction.

Ever feel so passionate about a brand you can’t wait to tell your friends all about it? You’re on a mission to get them to try it too so you can share this experience? When you feel and act this way, you’ve become a brand ambassador and your relationship has gone way beyond the “client zone” to something deeper.

I remember back in the day my friend Shari couldn’t believe I had not yet tried Netflix (this was back in the red envelope era). Every time I would see her she would pester me about it. I actually had a fleeting suspicion that she might be getting a commission from them. Not until I tried the brand and realize how much it changed my ability to watch TV and movies on my terms- did I understand why she was being so persistent.

The difference between fans and buyers.

When we choose brand experiences to visit on our guided BrandTwist Safaris, we look for brands that have fans – not just buyers. Brands that understand the emotional need they are filling – and who work hard to keep that relationship healthy.

American Girl Place is one such experience we will be visiting on our upcoming Safari.

BrandTwist Brand Safari TWIST American Girl

This brand really gets that they are not just selling dolls. They are fostering important friendships. The entire brand experience is designed around this special bond.  From the cafe where you can dine with your doll, the hospital where dolls are treated with special TLC, the Hair Salon with its pampering services for both girl and doll -even the clothes where you can dress like twins – American Girl is fostering a unique friendship. And not surprisingly, given this bond, commanding a premium price.

Your business can learn so much from TWISTING with American Girl and other brands about building deeper, and more profitable relationships with your customers

Join us in person in NYC as we visit Microsoft, American Girl, and more on our Brand Safari.

TWIST Book Julie Cottineau

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

Why Every Touch Point Matters in Your Brand

One of the things I love about BrandTwist Brand Safaris is we get to experience first hand many different touch points and then TWIST this inspiration with your brand. The importance of the multiple touch points is that transcending the ordinary and walking the talk isn’t enough if they only happen in one place.

So when we go into this immersive experience of a BrandTwist Brand Safari we’re able to explore the importance of inspiring at every turn.

Great brands maximize all brand touchpoints to convey a unique experience. They don’t just rely on traditional media to get across their message- they build their brand promise into the product or service experience.

Can a vomit bag surprise and delight?

In my book TWIST: How Fresh Perspectives Build Breakthrough Brands. I talk about One of my favorite “surprise and delight” moments with Virgin Atlantic’s use of “vomit bag” moments.

Virgin ran a promotion on Virgin Atlantic when they used the vomit bags in the seat pockets as marketing messages. These bags are in every seat back on every flight. But they are usually plain white and a missed opportunity – right in front of passengers for the six-plus hour flight.

Virgin Atlantic branded the bags its signature red, and included engaging copy about how flying used to be fun, then became terrible, and Virgin’s mission was to make it fun again. It began with: “How did air travel become so bloody awful? First, they took away the meals. Then the pretzels. And then the peanuts. All seven of them….” It ended with: “Flying should make you feel like you are a virgin again (flying-wise of course). It should feel new. And on Virgin Atlantic Airways it always will.”

This is a creative touch point. Taking a moment that is a necessary part of the experience (it’s literally an FAA requirement) and using it as a moment to surprise and delight the customer and support Virgin’s brand promise that this is a different way to fly.

Virgin America also uses other touchpoints such as the purple mood lighting, the unique safety video, and any time seat ordering inspires at every turn and show (not tell) the experience is a “Breath of Fresh Airline”.

Snapple literally inspires at every turn with the messages under their caps. All bottles need caps, but Snapple uses this moment to engage the purchaser and stand out from all of the other beverages – and present the brand as a truly refreshing choice.

One of the things I love about BrandTwist Brand Safaris is we get to experience first hand these touch points and then TWIST this inspiration with your brand.

BrandTwist - Nespresso Brand Safari

Nespresso, for example, offers a coffee bar in its experience store in SoHo. It’s the first thing you see when you walk in. Coffee specialists (employees are brand touchpoints too) treat you to the latest flavors. The wall of colorful capsules also transforms product inventory into pure art.

Want to discover your next “vomit bag” moment. Join us for our next BrandTwist Brand Safari and notice how great brands don’t just market to you, they immerse you in the experience at every turn.

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