Julie Cottineau [jcottin]
Up till now, what has been your professional career path?
I have worked both on the Agency side (Grey Global and Interbrand) and the Client side (VP of Brand for Virgin). In September '11 I started my own brand consulting company called BrandTwist.
Please list web addresses where one can see something about you.
You can read all about BrandTwist our services, clients and approach at http://BrandTwist.com, follow me on twitter @jcottin or like our Facebook pate at Facebook.com/BrandTwist
What is your stance as a marketing professional? What are you good at? What differentiates you from others?
I believe branding is critical to commercial success. I think brand is the secret weapon of any successful businesses (large or small). I also believe it should be hands on, fun, and result oriented. My approach uses lateral thinking and inspiration to come up with fresh solutions. I am also very interactive, making sure the clients are deeply invested in the solutions we create since employees are the most important brand ambassadors.
A marketing strategy begins with an idea. How are yours born?
I have two stories: one is about inventing the Pet Rock when I was 8 years old and my parents wouldn't let me have a real pet because my brother was allergic. This was 2 years before Gary Dahl made millions with the official Pet Rock. The second is about inventing an innovation methodology called BrandTango by seeing an airplane with a McDonald's logo on the tail fin (turns out it was just a reflection from the food court on the window of the terminal) but it got me thinking about using out of category brands for inspiration. Both of these moments fueled my idea to use creative, out of the box thinking for strong brand and business building.
In which market, products or services, are you currently working?
I am currently working in wellness, hospitality, online music just to name a few. I love working in multiple categories and swapping best practices. That's what keeps thing fresh for me.
What is the key to gaining consumer fidelity?
Delivering on your brand promise in every single touch point. Walking the Talk.
How do you determine what consumers think and feel? Is something more than qualitative research necessary?
You need to observe the way people behave. Not just what they say and engage in active listening on line.
What differentiates your product/service from the competition?
I think a lot of brand consultants are making branding more complicated then it needs to be. I am trying to de-mystify it and help people understand it's role as a key business driver and not just a name, logo or website.
What is a better way to communicate your product: emotional or rational?
I think great brands connect on a emotional level, but they also deliver tangible benefits. All the promises in the world don't mean anything if you fail to meet the basic needs.
What's your answer to the typical question: does marketing create nonexistent needs?
Only bad marketing, and these products usually fail.
In times of crisis sales of generic store brands rise. What should premium brands do or not do when faced with this?
I think they should keep doing what they do best, offer great value, an experience and unparalleled customer service.
The consumer is king: have advertisers realised this yet?
Not only are they king, they are running the brand. Smart advertisers are embracing collaboration with their consumers.
A few years ago, it was said that online sales would end up killing traditional store sales, but that has not been the case: how can you explain this?
Stores can provide a kind of experience that online can't. Smart brands recognize this and work to create additional value at the store level in terms of service, entertainment, socialization. They also invest in creating a unified brand on and offline and making the two experiences as seamless as possible for consumers.
Be a prophet. What phenomenon will revolutionize marketing in the next few years?
Mobile apps. All this power is now at our fingertips, consumers can make incredibly informed decisions at the point of sale. The smart phone will revolutionize the way we shop and share our feelings about brands. We are essentially walking around with super computers in our pockets. This is not new, but I don't think we've yet fully realized the potential of this technology and the way it will change how we buy.
How do you do your own personal branding? What do you recommend other professionals do to position themselves in the job market?
I have spent time understanding what makes me unique, and I try to bring this to every single communication and interaction. Sometimes it's subtle things like dressing in purple (my brand color) when I present at conferences. I also recommend that you pay attention to your personal brand (ex. set aside time to keep your profiles dynamic) and also associate yourself with likeminded people and brands. One of the biggest tricks of personal branding is knowing what details to leave out. It's like a bad first date syndrome. We tend to air all our dirty laundry and regret it in the morning. We need to learn to edit our personal brands to make them as strong as possible. This doesn't mean being inauthentic. It's more about being choiceful in what we share.