Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My Interview With Julie Cottineau of BrandTwist (Part 1)

Julie Cottineau is the founder of BrandTwist. Before starting her own company, she was vice president of Brand Virgin USA, overseeing branding strategy for new Virgin companies in North America, as well as providing strategic brand support for the established Virgin businesses. She also lectures at Columbia University.

She’s also speaking at BizBash New York IdeaFest and I had the amazing opportunity to talk with her about entrepreneurship, branding, and how she’s learned to stand out from the crowd.

KiKi: Your talk at IdeaFest is, “Making the Brand Permeate the Event: Lessons from Great Brands” – Can you tell us a little bit more about it?

Julie: Actually, it's going to be part talk and A LOT of interaction. I'm speaking at lunchtime and it's going to have an activity so everyone can get involved. I'm going to talk first about what really makes a great brand and to me part of what makes a great brand is a brand that tells a great story. And great brands, like when I used to work at Virgin, you see them telling their story at every single touchpoint. Not just with the advertising, but they tell it in the way the product is designed, the way the people that work there act, little touches - like all through the airplane, for example - little unexpected things. So I'm going to talk about those lessons and then ask the crowd to play along with me and innovate on their own brand and on their own events.

At this point in the interview I noticed that Julie's background, her wall color, matched with the color in her logo and tied in with her scarf. I mentioned this to Julie and she beamed. I'd stumbled on to her living her words...the color was part of her brand. Part of what makes her brand different from that of other consultants. Julie's personality matches this vivid color. Julie explained to me that "BrandTwist is all about passion."

KiKi: Events like IdeaFest can be amazing opportunities for networking and forging new strategic relationships. Are there any associations or online groups that have helped you or that you encourage entrepreneurs to join?

Julie: I find that a lot of the networking that I do is still pretty organic and person-to-person. I'm constantly meeting people, entrepreneurs, and saying, "Oh, I just talked to someone who had that exact same issue, maybe you should talk to them." That's great because it's a personal touch, but it can be really inefficient, especially when you're meeting hundreds of people. I'm actually right now launching something called BrandSchool and BrandSchool is an online course for entrepreneurs. It's an eight-week program that takes you through everything from who you should target, what you should promise, how you can use your personal brand like we just talked about, how you should support your professional brand, how you should use social media, and one of the things that I built into BrandSchool is a community page. When you sign up for the BrandSchool class, you'll learn from me, but I think more importantly you'll learn from other students in BrandSchool. You'll be able to talk with them, comment on each other's homework, talk about each other's brand ideas and my hope is that it will become a strong community.

Watch out for Part 2 of my interview with Julie Cottineau!

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