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.

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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

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

A Museum With a Take Me Home TWIST

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What’s the cardinal rule at any museum? Don’t touch the artwork! Now the Jewish Museum’s “Take Me (I’m Yours) exhibit TWISTS this convention by engaging visitors as co-creators and encouraging them to take part of the art piece home with them. This changes the actual piece, and it continues to evolve throughout the life of the exhibit.

With the TWIST of give and take this exhibit not only provides visitors a novel, memorable experience but it’s also an opportunity for the museum to rethink it’s role from that of archivist to sharer. This reinforces the Jewish notion of “diaspora” for the artwork- “spreading beyond your homeland” – with a positive TWIST and helps to make a deeper connection with their visitors.

What TWIST could you “give” to your customers that will make them feel more a part of your business?

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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.

 

Fundraising With an Interactive Twist

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Charities have to constantly ask people to take time out of their routine, reach into their pockets, phone in, mail in, or go on line and answer questionnaires or fill out forms in order to make even a small donation to their worthy cause. If only this cumbersome process could TWIST into being something that is conveniently accessible, practically effortless and fun to do!

Welcome to “SocialSwipe”, the first interactive billboard to accept credit cards, making donating super easy – and even fun. A credit card swipe through the poster triggers an interactive experience. For example: the card swipe acts as a knife and cuts a slice of bread from a loaf, symbolizing a meal for a family in Peru. The donor feels an immediate sense of emotional gratification – as well as having a very cool experience. Each swipe donates 2 euros and the credit card statement comes with the opportunity to elect to make this a reoccurring donation.

Advertising agency Kolle-Rebbe and mobile payment provider Stripe, Inc. TWISTED by removing the barriers to donating by going directly where potential donors – and their credit cards – already are, (the first rollout was in an international airport), and giving donors the opportunity to be actively involved – and feel good doing it.

How can you TWIST to make your service or product more accessible? Try a loyalty mobile app. like a “Buy ten/Get one” mobile punch card. One local hardware shop we know had a “Trivia Question of the Day” posted over the cash register and anyone who answered correctly received a free light bulb. Offer them a little something extra for an immediate sense of satisfaction, like a sticker, postcard, charm, or discount coupon that will keep you fresh in their minds and wanting to return.

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Finding the right TWIST can help your brand reach more customers. 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.

 

 

 

The THINX Revolutionary Twist on Women’s Underwear

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Miki Agrawal not only wants to change how the world thinks about women’s periods, but she wants to liberate women from the constraints of that “time of month”– and she’s doing it one panty at a time.

Ms. Agrawal is CEO and co-founder of THINX, women’s underwear that also doubles as feminine pads.

THINX panties took the practical need for protection (Stayfree pads) and TWISTED it with the sensual way every woman loves to feel (Victoria’s Secret) and created THINX – stylish, comfortable underwear that offers an added layer of protection so women can do more, worry less and feel better about themselves.

One simple TWIST can make a big impact. For every panty sold, one is donated to a women in developing countries to help her live a more productive life without the stigma and encumbrance of lack of supplies.

And by taking something that is a universal need but has traditionally been taboo and addressing it in the open, THINX has become more than a practical product – they symbolize female empowerment and freedom.

What are your customers thinking about – but no one is addressing head on? Let them know you understand and want to help. Your customers will show their appreciationby becoming strong brand advocates.

Brand School is the premier program specifically designed for entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them build their brands.  See how Brand School Faculty can help you realize your business’ potential HERE.

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“Working with Brand School … opens up so many doors and affects so many areas of  your business – an invaluable experience.” – Sarah Hinawi, Executive Director, The Purple Crayon Center for Learning and Innovation