Brand Biz: Tell Me a Story

olena

“Laurie’s big on creating story, which was completely new to me. She said, ‘Olena, you need your story, and you do have your story, like a very unique story. But you have to tell it. Like, you have to say it.’ ”

–Olena Osipov, iFoodReal

Well, you got that right, Olena! We ARE big on story over here.

We loved listening to Olena tell us her story on Food Blogger Pro, from immigrating from Kiev, Ukraine to a small town in Canada when she was 19 (with $100 in her pocket!) to dreaming big and buying her new waterfront home on Vancouver Island with its own studio. That’s what you call making it!

We also loved working with Olena to help her find her brand story, the one that ultimately helped her find her way, better understand her audience, reshape her content strategy and rebuild her website. She’s a graduate of our Brand Bootcamp, and we couldn’t be more proud of her.

What is Brand Bootcamp?

The CookIt Brand Bootcamp is an immersive, one-on-one course in how to shape, position and build your brand. Working with you to understand your goals and vision, we build a blueprint for your growth, ensuring you have all the tools and resources you need to take the next steps and become the influential, successful brand you are meant to be!

How does it work?

We start with your story (of course we do!). Getting there is a process, one that begins with a conversation/interview (as we try to get to the heart of what you believe in, and love to do). From there we go on to research your competition and evaluate your marketplace opportunity, summing up our work in a Positioning Statement that details the “what, who and why” behind your brand story. And that’s just session one!

A deep dive into your current audience sets us up to identify your Target Audience—those new readers who will be key to your growth and expansion. Once we know who we’re talking to, we can work on your Brand Voice, which comprises your personal voice, the brand itself and any team members you work with. How your brand talks to your readers is a defining element of who you are.

Content Strategy and Site Structure are up next. In these two sessions, we build out your plan for growth, helping you transition from blog to a larger, more impactful online resource, more like a magazine. Working with your story, we help you think bigger, and apply that thinking to your content, site design and user experience. By the time we’re done, you’ll have a plan that easily translates to wireframes and a site refresh.

Our last session covers content Production, as well as Growth Strategy. We help you better understand how to create a process for planning and producing content for your new site. (Spoiler alert: We’re big on monthly content themes and planning six months to a year out!) As for your growth, we’ll consider multiple ways to take your story “on the road,” from a podcast to a cookbook to a newsletter series.

Is It Right for You?

Brand Bootcamp is work! It requires guts, determination and a willingness to let go of some things and see others from a new perspective. You’ll come away from the experience with a refreshed way of thinking about what you do, why you do it, and who you do it for. We’ll find your story—the one you will go on to tell the world!

To listen to others who’ve graduated from Brand Bootcamp, head over to Food Blogger Pro and tune into Bjork’s interviews with Meggan Hill and Jessica Gavin. And to hear my chat with Bjork about perfecting your story, listen here.

5 Things You Didn’t Know About…

Our #CookItCrew is made up of some amazing and talented brands & influencers, and today we’re chatting with Yumna of Feel Good Foodie. Her passion for the food industry and clean eating inspired her journey into blogging, and we’re so glad to learn five things we didn’t know about her today!

  1. I was born in Zaire (now the Republic of Congo) and grew up in Sierra Leone on the west coast of Africa until I was 11 years old. We left in 1993 when a civil war broke out, and we came to Dearborn, Michigan, where some of my dad’s relatives lived. 
  2. I’m obsessed with dark chocolate and have a piece every single day after dinner.
  3. My brother and I have the same name, but his name (Aiman) is the masculine version of my name (Yumna). My name means the right side, and I tell my husband it means I’m right and he’s wrong haha!
  4. I broke my left arm when I was 2 years old and became double jointed because of it.
  5. I was the Female Athlete of the Year in my graduating class of 400. I think it was mostly because all the best athletes just didn’t have the minimum 2.5 GPA to qualify for the award 😉

Cooking the Books: Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat

salt, fat, acid, heat bookbook

I’m sure you’d think I was kidding if I told you that I found the best cookbook of all time, but it’s true! I just purchased Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat and it’s by far the best and most comprehensive cookbook out there. I can’t put it down.

It’s more like a textbook really, because it goes deep into the science behind cooking. Want to know the importance of salting your meat before you cook it? Or how to make the perfect scrambled eggs? (The secret is a little lemon juice by the way.) Or how to not break a mayonnaise? This book tells you how while showcasing the four main pillars of cooking every good cook should know. The fun and amusing illustrations and charts, don’t hurt either. There’s als a glossary of delicious recipes you’ll want to try time and time again.

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat cookbook

I’m taking my time getting through it because I really want to soak it all in, but I highly recommend it for everyone, amateur or advanced cook alike.

Oh, and even better, the book is becoming a Netflix original series, so all the more reason to get in on the action!

What’s Cooking: August

chocolate chunk shortbread cookies

 

In the summertime, the last thing we want to do is turn on the oven. That said, there are some recipes we’ll gladly suffer for. These are some of our team’s favorites from the past few sultry weeks.

dining in cookbook

Well, currently my head and heart have been dedicated and devoted to Alison Roman’s Dining In. This week, I made two batches of the Salted Butter and Chocolate Chunk Shortbread, one because everyone was talking about them, and the second because…I get it, I get it, they are delicious! Jackie, Senior Account Manager

strawberry balsamic pie

There is something so quintessential about pie and summertime. Every year, I pull out Four & Twenty Blackbirds’ recipe for strawberry balsamic pie. It’s a perfect crowd pleaser! Netanya, Social Media Manager

fruit salad

I’ve been obsessed for a bit now with salads that combine fruit, tomatoes, cheese and avocado. And I have no intention of stopping. This excellent version from our girl Haley of Brewing Happiness knocked the idea out of the park by adding chunks of country bread for a new take on panzanella. Laurie, CEO + Founder

almond pesto

This time of year, basil grows like a weed in my backyard (how lucky am I?). So I’m making all sorts of pesto variations. I love Deliciously Ella’s take on pesto, made with almonds instead of pine nuts. It has a more delicate flavor than the traditional version—all the better for a light summer meal. Renae, Senior Brand Strategist

Poached Eggs

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to learn and attempt to make poached eggs. This post and video by Lisa of Downshiftology is the perfect guide: It breaks down all the problems you could have and all the tips you’ll need. Now I can master brunch (in my pajamas)! Anna, Brand Strategist

mediterranean salmon

Salmon en papillote is a year-round staple (so easy and delicious), but we’ve been loving the Roasted Root’s Mediterranean twist. It’s incredibly flavorful and pairs well with leftover grains and leafy greens. Edie, Account Manager

 

 

5 Things You Don’t Know About…

Edie

Edie Horstman

Our #CookItCrew comprises staff, influencers, brands, agencies, designers, photographers – all the amazing people we work with. Today we’re checking in with our talented Account Manager, Edie Horstman. We asked what we don’t know about her!

5 Things You Don’t Know About Me

  1. I’m Mexican-food obsessed, and I credit my mom. In 2005, she opened a small taqueria in the Bay Area. Fast forward 13 years later, and she has five Mexican restaurants called LuLu’s. Talk about inspiring!
  2. My favorite late-night snack is a scoop (or two) of So Delicious ice cream. Any flavor.
  3. The one cookbook I’d save in a fire (God forbid!) is Oh She Glows Every Day — Angela’s recipes are delicious, satisfying, and encourage me to get creative with veggies!
  4. I love live video (weird, I know)! My secret is practicing beforehand. Notes are also key.
  5. The strangest thing in my pantry is Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies. What can I say? I’m a little kid at heart.

The Brand Biz: What’s Your Story?

brand biz

At CookIt, we talk about “story” all the time. As consultants working to help you define your brand, crafting your story is our first step. Without that key piece, you are rudderless in a vast ocean of competition.

The good news is that, like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, you always had the answer. Finding your story is the process of seeing that it was there all along.

Crazy talk, right? Don’t just take our word for it, try it. Follow this road, and let us know how it goes.

Picture your readers.

Who are they? What’s important to them? What’s really hard for them? What keeps them up at night? Once you feel like you know these things about your audience, go to the next step.

How can you help them?

Within your area of expertise, how can you help them? How can you solve a problem for them? What do you have to offer them that others don’t? Answer those questions, and go to the next step.

Why you?

What is it about you that qualifies you to be the authority your reader needs? Is it education? Life experiences? Values? Find that answer, and you will better understand your role in the story we’re writing. And then…

What’s so important?

Once you have a better understanding of who you’re talking to, how you’re helping them, and what it is about you that they trust and value, it’s much easier to grasp the importance of what you do. It may sound simple — it may be that they look to you for inspiration, for the motivation they need to stick to their goals. But that’s big for them. And that’s where you’ll find your story, and your opportunity!