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How To Transform a Small Idea Into A Big Brand With Breakthrough Branding.

How To Transform a Small Idea Into A Big Brand With Breakthrough Branding.

Brand entrepreneurs “think strategically and creatively about creating a brand.”

“Every business begins with an idea, and perfecting that idea is your first and most important task.”

To boost your brand, identify an underserved niche, create a new category and differentiate your concept from the competition’s.

“Nothing is sold until it’s branded: Branding is building an image and an emotional connection with customers.”

Establish a memorable, unique name coupled with a catchy tagline.

“Great brands are always built on authenticity, on who you are and what your business can be, not what you want it to be.”

Create unforgettable and inimitable user experiences with your brand.

“It’s powerful to create your business idea out of something that you love to do, because it means that you’ll be building your business right smack in the center of your personal sweet spot.”

“Your business idea should be short enough to write on the back of a business card.”

Use the “soft power” of your brand’s image, value and reputation to position it as singular to consumers.

“As consumers, we live in a time when we can consult one another freely about even the smallest purchasing or hiring decisions.”

“Turns out we don’t want to share facts and practical information as much as stories and emotions.”

“Both our businesses and our media have moved from a mass-appeal, homogeneous state to a diverse and fragmented one.”

Implement strong positioning strategies, such as being a leader or innovator; having the best price; or offering a new technology, process or ingredient.  Prevalent positioning techniques include the following:

  • “Own an attribute” – This is an aspect of your offering that provides a specific benefit. For example, Pantene says it formulates its products to make hair “so healthy it shines.”
  • “Target a specific group” – Apple’s “I’m a Mac and you’re a PC” campaign demonstrates the power of appealing to a particular age group or personality type. The ads contrast the hip Mac owner with the square PC person.
  • “Be the first” – The first company in a category can hold onto a leadership position because its brand is so closely associated with the product. For example, Dietrich Mateschitz created the category of “energy drinks” with Red Bull.
  • “Be the leader” – Be the biggest fish in your pond, whether in your community or globally. Or be the company on the cutting edge of your industry, like Microsoft.
  • “Be the maverick” – “For every Microsoft, there is an Apple.” A rebel brand carries élan. JetBlue upset the airline industry by offering cheap fares, snacks and flights from secondary airports.
  • “Have a magic ingredient or special process” – A new, different ingredient can open up a market, such as Cargill’s use of the stevia leaf in Truvia, an alternative sweetener. Google created an online search with the PageRank algorithm and now owns the market.
  • “Connect with a celebrity” – Celebrity endorsements are powerful influencers. Consider the popularity of clothing and accessories that the Kardashian sisters wear.
  • “Be a cheapener” – Offering the lowest price can give you the lead. Walmart does this best with its focus on buying low and selling cheap in huge quantities.
  • “Align with a cause” – People want to use their purchasing power to do good. Toms Shoes, which sells hundreds of thousands of shoes, donates a pair for every pair it sells.

“Cyberbranding” means using digital media to communicate your brand message.

“Cyberbranding lets you do something extraordinary: tap into the selling power of friendship.”

Seven principles form the backbone of “breakthrough branding.”

  1. “Brand bold – for your business and brand you” – Build your business brand alongside your personal brand. Gary Vaynerchuk, founder of and the video blog WineLibraryTV, elevated his parents’ liquor store to a $50-million-a-year company, and his blog receives more than 80,000 views every day.
  2. “Try to dominate the category or create a new one” – Identify an underserved or entirely new niche. Andrew Mason combined group buying and flash sales to create Groupon, now worth more than $16 billion.
  3. “Figure out how to grow and scale the business” – As you start a small business or develop an idea, consider how to expand it in the future. Scale up your business by basing your business model on systems, not individuals.
  4. “Enchant your customers” – Provide consumers with an exceptional experience to drive growth and inhibit competitors from replicating your business model.
  5. “Put ‘growth agent’ in everyone’s job title” – Building an incomparable company is a team effort. Empower every employee to contribute to the organization’s success.
  6. “Strike the right balance between innovation and staying true to the brand” – Long-term success is hard to achieve. You must walk the tightrope between staying relevant and honoring what made you successful.
  7. “Take advantage of good luck and bad” – Great ideas can spring from challenging circumstances. Bill Rasmussen lost his job with the New England Whalers hockey team and explored creating a cable sports channel; thus began ESPN.

Your simple, heartfelt and specific “small idea” can be the next big thing.

“Your future success depends on your customers’ perceptions, as well as those of prospective employees and investors.”

“If you don’t brand your business and yourself, other people will.”

“Your product isn’t what you say it is. It’s what others say it is.”



Breakthrough Branding Book Cover Breakthrough Branding
Catherine Kaputa
Business & Economics
Nicholas Brealey Publishing
June 16, 2012
Founder of the brand strategy consultancy SelfBrand and the author of U R a Brand! and The Female Brand.

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Catherine Kaputa is a personal branding strategist, speaker, workshop leader and author. She is the founder of SelfBrand, a NYC-based personal branding company ( ).

From Madison Avenue to Wall Street to the halls of academe, she perfected how to brand and market products, places and companies. Catherine learned brand strategy under Al Ries and Jack Trout at Trout & Ries Advertising. She led the award-winning "I Love New York" campaign at Wells Rich Greene. For over ten years she was SVP, Director of Advertising and Community Affairs at Citi Smith Barney, and taught advertising at NYU's Stern School of Business.
Yet Catherine discovered that the most important application for branding is not products, places and companies - it's for individuals to define and own their career identity.

Personal branding can help people create more success for themselves and the companies they work for, the topic of her book, "You Are a Brand, How Smart People Brand Themselves for Business Success" (youareabrandbookcom), winner of the Ben Franklin award for Best Career Book 2007 ( ) and a top 10 business book in China.

Catherine is also active as a speaker and workshop leader on women's leadership, the topic of her book: "Women Who Brand: Using the Female Mindset for Business Success" (Nicholas Brealey Publishing), June 2012, ). Here book for entrepreneurs on building a business brand is "Breakthrough Branding: How Smart Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurs Transform a Small Idea into a Big Brand" ( The book won the Silver Medal in the Book of the Year Awards 2012, Business Category.

Catherine was struck by the number of new grads and young professionals she came across who were having difficulty finding a job in today's competitive job market and up-and-down economy. Many have large student debt burdens, and when they do find a job, it can be part-time or contract based work with no benefits in the gig economy. This exploration led to her newest book "Graduate to a Great Career: How Smart Students, New Graduates and Young Professionals Can Launch Brand You" ( 2016, Nicholas Brealey Publishing)

Catherine has spoken at a wide range of corporations and organizations as part of talent development, sales force meetings and diversity and women's initiatives - organizations focused on creating career and leadership development opportunities particularly during turbulent times. Clients include Google, PepsiCo, Microsoft, Intel, Unilever, Merck, Glaxo Smith Kline, UBS, Citi, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Bank of New York, UST and others. (For more information contact: Visit Catherine blogs at ) You can follow her at,, Linkedin/in/CatherineKaputa and Facebook/SelfBrand.

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