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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Add a Fresh Twist

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

 TIP #12: INNOVATE NEW BRAND IDEAS BY ADDING A FRESH TWIST

Fresh ideas come from looking at old problems from new perspectives. If you are only looking at and thinking about what your competition is doing, chances are you will stay in the same rut and not come up with anything new or exciting. You need to look at old challenges from new angles.

A few years back I was at an airport and saw a 747 with McDonald’s golden arches on the tail fin. I started to imagine what this McDonald’s airline would be like. I imagined it would be a good value, family friendly and most importantly it would have flexible options in terms of how I bought my ticket and any upgrades – allowing me to supersize my experience to a seat with more leg room or special menu options. As it turns out, this airline was just a figment of my imagination. It was the reflection of the neon sign in the food court on the window, and there happened to be a plane parked behind the window on the tarmac. So while it was just imaginary, it led to the very real practice of TWISTING brands in different categories to come up with new ideas. (That’s actually why I named my company BrandTwist.)

Consumers don’t live in a one-category world. For example, they make note of great customer service experiences across airlines, retail stores, dry cleaners, fast food, fine dining, taxi cabs, doctor’s offices, personal trainers…you name it. So as marketers we should constantly be looking at the larger brandscape for inspiration. A great way to leverage lateral thinking for your own brand is to imagine what a beloved brand (in a different category) would do if it took over your business. How would this brand use its brand DNA to innovate in your market?  Twist an inspirational brand (ex. Virgin, Zappos, Starbucks, Apple) with yours and see the impact it can have in creating fresh ideas for your business today.

Check out tip #13 in the series, Commit to Continual Learning.

BRAND SCHOOL CAN HELP YOU ADD THE TWIST YOU NEED

…After all, that’s what it’s designed to do.

Julie Cottineau, the former VP of Brand for Richard Branson’s Virgin, and entrepreneur and a branding expert responsible for countless small business and personal branding makeovers, has created Brand School, the highly effective, premier program to help you grow your business and perfect your brand at the same time.

Receive more information about the next semester and free brand-building tools and tips when you join the BrandTwist mailing list.

“Brand School was engaging and helpful to me in learning more about myself and my business. Results came amazingly quick. Now, my brand name speaks my message immediately and I’ve expanded my reach.” – Lynn Stull, Owner Arts2Thrive 

5 Brand Trends for 2013

I don’t have a crystal ball, but that doesn’t stop me from having some opinions about what the year to come has in store. Check out my five predictions for brand trends in 2013 and let me know what you think in the comment section below!

1. The Royal Waiting

Anything Kate Middleton wears while baking the royal bun in the oven is sure to be an instant hit.  And it’s a pretty safe bet that the Duchess won’t be wearing anything too sexy or body clinging while she’s waiting for her royal heir to hatch. Will we be seeing a throw back to the formless maternity dresses and peter pan collars of Lady Diana? Probably not. You can bet Kate will continue to build her own personal brand with a maternity look that’s stylish, practical, and demure all at the same time. There’s likely a relatively unknown British maternity designer that’s about to become a household name. Look for knock-offs to appear immediately in the stores. Topshop may even start a maternity line.

2. Instagram becomes the new Facebook for tweens

Many tweens (ages 10-12) aren’t allowed to have Facebook accounts, but many others have their own iPads (or at least constant access to the family device). Bottom line: these almost-teenagers want to share everything, and pictures have always been worth a thousand words. Will this set still want to graduate to Facebook when their parents finally give the ‘okay’, or will they eventually fuel the growth of Instagram as the hottest social media channel? I predict the latter.

3. Blind Agency Pitches

The best part of the immensely popular talent show “The Voice” is the first weeks when the judges choose contestants based solely on their singing ability. Chairs facing away from the stage, the performers’ appearance has no influence on whether they make it on to one of the judge’s teams. I think agencies will soon be asked to pitch in a similar way. I mean, I can just imagine potential clients sitting enthroned in over-sized leather chairs, fingers hovering over big red buttons. Perhaps the strength of a small, relatively obscure agency’s simply brilliant core idea will finally have the chance to trump the dog and pony shows that many of the larger agencies have come to rely on.

[sc:optin]

4. I Heart Brooklyn

This younger-brother borough has long been creeping up on its more popular counterpart (Manhattan) as the coolest place to see and be seen in the NY metro area. The shiny new Barclay Center, home to uber cool Jay-Z’s Nets, may have finally given this area the last boost it needed to wear the crown. Will Brooklyn finally win the sibling rivalry and become the focus of the iconic “I Love New York” campaign? The way it’s looking right now, it just might happen. I Heart Brooklyn bumper sticker anyone?

5. Weather or Not

For the past few years, the seasons are completely out of whack. Regardless of whether you believe in global warming, you have to admit that the temperatures are not what we used to expect each season and Mother Nature seems to be having a field day at our expense with hurricanes, October snow storms and then 60 degree Decembers. Will these changes affect the way that brands are created and marketed? For example, maybe we won’t see the same seasonal collections in fashion lines. Maybe a “round the year” collection from designers will become the norm. Hey, it could happen.

I PREDICT GREAT THINGS FOR YOUR BUSINESS WITH BRAND SCHOOL

Brand innovation comes from being a keen observer of the world around us and applying inspiration from one category to another. Brand School, is our premier program that teaches you to apply lateral thinking to build your brand and your business. Brand School takes the best practices of beloved brands such as Virgin, Apple, and Zappos and brings them to life in engaging videos, interactive exercises and exclusive access to a private community of fellow entrepreneurs. Learn more about Brand School here.  If you’d like to find out about our special discounts just for our social media friends, please sign up for the BrandTwist newsletter.

“Taking the Brand School course was THE best decision I ever made for my business.” – Dr. Marina Kostina, Distance Learning Specialist, CEO of  wired@heart

Who Says B2B Has to Be Boring?

“It’s easier for Virgin to be innovative, because you’ve got a sexy consumer facing brand.”

I hear this all the time.

Well guess what? That’s not 100% true.

We do a lot of marketing directly to the trade (e.g. travel professionals, financial advisers, HR and benefits executives etc).

And in all this Business to Business communications we don’t check our “Virginity” at the door.

I believe people are people.

Whether they are at home, at work, or at play.

They don’t change their personalities, lose their senses of humor or abandon the brands they admire as soon as they walk into their offices.

Certainly not all of our B2B efforts are successful.  We’ve had our fair share of failures. But usually this is driven by specific market pressures rather than any mistakes we make in communicating to these audiences.

In Business to Business branding, just like consumer branding, you’ve got to go in with a point of differentiation, connect with your audience, and deliver superior value and experiences.

Here’s 5 Quick Tips for Helping B2B Brands Break Through

#1. Say it with Style

I think a lot of brands think they have to speak in a “corporate” tone of voice when communicating to trade targets. I don’t get this. I don’t know anyone who likes to be spoken to like a robot.

Is Your Brand Friend-Worthy?

As a follow up to my recent post on You Don’t Need a Social Media Strategy which seemed to hit a nerve (thanks for all the comments!) I wanted to delve deeper into the idea of whether your brand is ready to be social.

With all the talk of “friends, followers, and fans” it feels like high school all over again.

It seems like many brands are so focused on obtaining prom queen status, they are missing point.

They’re spending a lot of time obsessing about how to win the popularity vote and get the most followers and friends on Facebook and Twitter etc.

Instead, they need to step back and ask the very simple, but quite fundamental question:

“Does my brand have what it takes to be a good friend?”

If not, asking consumers to become your friend can actually back fire. Most of us already have more relationships than we feel we can handle. Don’t ask us to commit to another one unless you are sure you can deliver some added value.

Figuring this out whether your brand is “friend-worthy” is pretty similar to evaluating friendships in real life.

Here are 5 QuickTips to figure out if your Brand is friend-worthy:

I think they work for evaluating both human and the brand relationships.