• BRANDS ARE MEANT TO SING

    If building brand equity is important to you, we need to talk. If you want clarity around your brand’s proposition so you can align every brand contact, we need to talk.

    If brand is not important to you, but you barrack for Hawthorn, or you think we need to take climate change more seriously, or you have a great pasta sauce recipe, or you’re interested in exploring the world on horseback... we still need to talk.

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What We Do

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Brand Strategy

You will know exactly what your
brand rules of engagement need to be.

Defining the DNA of brands in a layered and empowering way. Establishing the platform for differentiated brand strategies that offer an edge.

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Brand Culture

No one will die wondering –
everyone knows what is required of them.

Creating cultures that breath life into brands. Inspiring and aligning organisational behaviours to make desired brand aspirations a reality.

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Personal Branding

Knowing exactly what you wish to
stand for and having a game plan for success.

We work with individuals in Melbourne and throughout Australia to leverage the power of a brand mindset. Purpose driven, passion and talent infused personal brand definitions.

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Brand Identity

You will have a lighthouse brand identity
that communicates exactly what you stand for.

Creatively designing the visual language of brands. Every element working together to produce a stunning representation of the brand.

We all know about attributes – the new frontier for brand is ethos.

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Client Brands

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Dispatches

EMPLOYER BRAND PERSONAL BRAND

How many bullshit jobs do you have?

January 14, 2021
  As they say, it takes a bullshit artist to know one. Where do you rank? The book “Bullshit Jobs” (Simon & Schuster), by David Graeber, raises some interesting perspectives on the sheer number of jobs that exist that add no real value and are essentially meaningless (and for many soul destroying). He talks about “duct tapers” who are hired to patch or bridge major flaws that their bosses are too lazy or inept to fix systemically. He also argues that there are millions of people across the world — clerical workers, administrators, consultants, telemarketers, corporate lawyers, service personnel, and many others — who are toiling away in meaningless, unnecessary jobs, and they know it. Sometimes driven by inefficiencies and increasingly because businesses will not embrace relevant technology. The pandemic has been brilliant at putting a spot light on important roles – those in no way bullshit. Front-line workers in so many different forms have come to the fore. Health workers, supermarket staff, logistics workers, school teachers (albeit remotely), police and who ever got their role deemed ‘essential services’ by the Government. At one point it seemed whoever was making toilet paper were in our most treasured roles! Some of these roles perhaps do not get the recognition they deserve, and thanks to COVID for driving needed conversation about this. COVID has also been brilliant in raising big questions about the gig economy – is a bullshit job one with no security? And of course there is always the question, is any job (bullshit or otherwise) better than no job? Perhaps that is the motivation to Government for keeping Job Seeker payments so painfully low? However, if we move beyond these many philosophical questions and simply ponder what role can you play in eliminating bullshit jobs, there may be some immediate upside. Think about your own role. What tasks do you currently undertake that add no value? What would happen if you stopped? What processes could  you re-engineer to get rid of meaningless jobs that are the by-product of lazy work-arounds? How can you build more meaning for yourself and others by developing a greater sense of purpose – ‘the why’ of what you do? How can ensure you are adopting viable technologies to free yourself or others from drudgery? How do you ensure people feel valued in their roles – recognition, security, fair rewards, etc? Frankly, if you are thinking bullshit jobs do not need to be on your radar, then you are thinking bullshit.
PERSONAL BRAND

Self-Actualisation Characteristics

January 6, 2021
Becoming everything you are capable of becoming. A couple of further thoughts (see recent post) on Abraham Maslow’s concept of self-actualisation. A self-actualiser being someone who has the desire to realise one’s full potential. Leading to a rather grand outcome of becoming everything they are capable of becoming. Maslow contends that self-actualised individuals exhibit the following characteristics. Again an acknowledgement to the Positive Psychology web site for the summary of the characteristics. Italics represent a few of my observations. https://positivepsychology.com/self-actualization-tests-tools-maslow/ Acceptance and realism: persons are unthreatened, unfrightened by the unknown. they have a superior ability to reason, to see the truth. They are logical and efficient. Accept themselves, others and the natural world the way they are. However, while they are realistic they don’t place self-imposed limits on achieving things that are important to them. Spontaneity, Simplicity, Naturalness: Spontaneous in their inner life, thoughts and impulses, they are unhampered by convention. Their ethics is autonomous, they are individuals, and are motivated to continual growth. Personally I am attracted to the notion of unconventional as a precursor to shaping change – worth asking yourself when have you gone against the group think within your organisation? Problem Centering: Focus on problems outside themselves, other centered. They have a mission in life requiring much energy, their mission is their reason for existence. They are serene, characterised by a lack of worry, and are devoted to duty. Interesting, how many serene individuals do you encounter? Personally not many. But a sense of purpose beyond oneself is a great driver of positive energy. Detachment- The Need for Privacy: Alone but not lonely, unflappable, retain dignity amid confusion and personal misfortunes, objective. They are self-starters, responsible for themselves, own their behaviour. I understand the role of personal accountability embedded in this characteristic – but it almost implies not being a team player??Certainly since Maslow’s time in the sun, collaboration has become an important factor in value creation. Autonomy: Independent of Culture and Environment: rely on inner self for satisfaction. Stable in the face of hard knocks, they are self-contained, independent from love and respect. Again get the independence and self-contained attributes but when I think of my own quest for self-actualisation I find it difficult to be an outcome at the expense of love and respect. Continued Freshness of Appreciation: Have a fresh rather than stereotyped appreciation of people and things. Appreciation of the basic good in life, moment to moment living is thrilling, transcending and spiritual. They live the present moment to the fullest. Today we would see it as mindfulness at play. What can one say, grab it with both hands and an expansive mind! Peak experiences: The feeling of ecstasy and wonder and awe, the loss of placement in time and space with, finally, the conviction that something extremely important and valuable had happened. Again bring it on – but clearly it is also an outcome of truly knowing yourself, the goals you wish to tick off, the artistic expressions you embrace and frankly
PERSONAL BRAND

Self-actualisation is worthy of some reflection

January 3, 2021
Abraham Maslow Your life is your life – so how is it playing out? For many of us, studying Maslow’s hierarchy of needs was simply something one had to do as part of our University studies. Intuitively you always kind of got it – yep get the basic needs satisfied like your physiological and safety ones, and then start reaching for a bit of love and esteem, nail that and then have a crack at the joy of self-actualisation. But the reality is that our needs are fluid. We can be wrapped in a whole lot of love, but just lost all our assets ( and the accompanying safety and physiological needs they provided) through a business deal that goes pear shaped. LIFE CAN GO PEAR-SHAPEDI’ve been there, done that. Think you are flying and then end up with a business in receivership and all you seem to have is a lot more time than you had planned on having. Certainly you may still be able to feed yourself, but your esteem has taken a battering and self- actualisation can seem like it exists only on another planet. But time is a wonderous thing. You are back in the saddle, the years drift by and all of a sudden you begin to ponder what does it all add up to. It is in this context that the concept of self-actualisation is worthy of some reflection (as it really should be for the whole journey – and journey it is). SELF-ACTUALISATION IS LIVING TO OUR TRUE POTENTIALIf we accept that self-actualisation is a big slice of living to our true potential, then how are you travelling? As mentioned above our needs are fluid, and working towards self-actualisation is an on-going process, influenced by your changing life circumstances and the experiences you accumulate. It is a journey, and what follows is 10 questions ( courtesy of https://positivepsychology.com/self-actualization-tests-tools ) to reflect on while you steer the mothership to where ever you are heading. TEN QUESTIONS TO PONDER1. In what ways are you open to new ideas and concepts?2. How often do you take the time for self-contemplation and reflection? How could you improve this?3. To what extent do you accept yourself and your life’s circumstances?4. What control do you think you have over what happens to you, and how you respond?5. How do your current relationships help foster a sense of personal growth in your life?6. Where do you feel you could make improvements in your life to help foster a greater sense of fulfillment?7. When was the last time you felt genuinely content? Where were you, and what were you doing?8. How do you give back to others?9. In what ways do you think you could make more time for the things that give you a strong sense of fulfillment in life?10. How do you encourage and willingly bring new knowledge, thoughts, and ideas into your life? Empowerment, curiosity, generosity and consciousness clearly all worth programming into your navigation system.
PERSONAL BRAND

Inspirational quotes – truly personal

December 9, 2019
There was an interesting article recently in the Weekend Australian Magazine by Polly Vernon about inspirational quotes. While she provided great insight into the rampant growth in the use and visibility of such quotes, she also provided some brilliant insight into the minds of those who hold them in contempt. Certainly the language used by them as note worth as the inspirational quotes they reject. Expressions such as ‘word farts’ and ‘the stupid person’s idea of wisdom’ says something of their disdain. But in terms of why others are attracted to them, one very interesting observation is that they provide some form of diversion to the constantly running messages that we have on repeat playing in our minds. The suggestion being that the mantra like quotes nudge our narrative and allow us to refocus from time to time. From my own perspective, I have no universal position on inspirational quotes. However, the context in which they play out does shape my view somewhat. For example, to have such quotes playing out on home furnishings feels so underwhelming. In fact the Weekend Australian article referenced a Canadian research paper that found a link between lower IQ’s and a readiness to absorb, subscribe to, enjoy and share inspirational quotes – yes, perhaps having them on one’s cushions at home supports that. Inspirational quotes in non-fictional books as chapter breaks often speak to me strongly. Usually because of their relationship to the topic I am interested in – hence reading the book. However, typically I can never recall them post reading – but there is one that has remained with me and does drive action from time to time. It is a quote from a guy called Jocko Willink. He is an ex-Navy Seal, now running a leadership and management consulting company. I came across him in the Tim Ferris book, Tools of Titans. His quote is simply this: ‘If you want to be tougher, be tougher.’ This thought is one I periodically call upon when I am desiring a little more discipline or will power in my endeavours. Its power for me resides in the fact that it requires no elapsed time – just do it (sorry).

Brand Positioning – Different strokes for different folks

November 25, 2019
Clarity around your desired brand positioning is critical. But brands can play different roles for different companies, as well different consumers. The recent announcement of Japan’s  Asahi’s $16 billion purchase of beer maker Carlton & United Breweries is a reminder of the leverage an attractive portfolio of brands can offer companies from a strategic perspective. In fact the commentary around the acquisition has largely focused on the business benefits of economies of scale and distribution muscle versus the individual market positioning of the brands being acquired. Australian  Executive Chairman of Asahi Peter Margin simply referencing the great scale the ‘local goliath’ offers. “It gives us great scale. It certainly gives us scale around manufacturing, logistics and probably more importantly around marketing capability,” said Mr Margin. The  beer brands being acquired include Carlton Draught, Victoria Bitter, Melbourne Bitter, Cascade, Crown Lager and the relative newcomer Great Northern. They are rather iconic brands in their own right, but little has been spoken about their market propositions by Asahi, rather the business benefits of immediate market share ie moving from approx 2% to 50% as a result of the buy. But the acquisition is strategic far beyond what it means here in Australia. While the Australian beer market isn’t growing, it is mature, stable and high-margin. By buying into The Aussie beer market it dilutes the Japanese brewer’s exposure to a home market where an ageing and shrinking population creates an intensifying challenge. This all contrasts greatly with how the independent brewers have responded. Yep, different strokes for different folks. They have doubled down on reinforcing their ‘fresh, artisan and innovative’ market offerings. Co-owner of  Bodriggy Brewing Co, Peter Walsh, recently stating,  ‘the way that CUB and Asahi make a lot of their beers are pasteurised and mass produced and there is not much difference between a two-day old beer and five-year-old beer. Whereas the whole craft industry is people appreciating freshness and local and artisan.’ As a beer drinker Walsh is even challenging me on where I should in fact live. Fresh is best. He believes the main reason the whole brew pub thing is working and the craft industry is booming is people are starting to appreciate that if you are going to drink a good beer make sure it is fresh. He suggests a good way to do that is to live near a brewery. This is clearly where I have been misled. I have simply been making sure I was in striking distance of beverage big box distributor Dan Murphy’s. And to remind me further that the market does segment in very different ways – not only have I been a regular visitor to Dan’s for my packaged beer (and wine) I have been for a long time purchasing Victoria Bitter. It may not be fashionable but as their long standing tag line says…’for a hard earned thirst.’ Say no more.

Leadership Master Class–Thank you Jacinda Ardhern

November 25, 2019
Out of the most devasting act of terror we were gifted such profound lessons in what leadership is about. Confronted with the tragic loss of 51 lives the New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardhern demonstrated an extraordinary fusion of toughness and empathy. Her highly instinctive leadership disarmingly empowering. She immediately declared gun laws needed to be toughened up (and they have been!). She also demonstrated the most simple act of compassion and empathy. The day after the massacre she met with members of the Muslim community, wearing a hijab, embracing the community symbolically and literally. Each word, each hug declaring to the world that in an increasingly fragmented and self-interested world we need to care for each other more than ever. When the global media began praising her style of leadership, she responded: ‘I don’t think I’m displaying leadership. I just think that I’m displaying humanity.” Interesting thought, displaying humanity. Seems so obvious, but sadly self-interest regularly gets in the way. But is is worth pondering the question in whatever leadership role we have – how am I doing on the humanity scale? What level of empathy and understanding do I afford others? List 5 ways my humanity has shined through in the past week. What is interesting with Jacinda Ardhern is that humanity seems to her default position. What a great platform to operate from! Interesting thought, displaying humanity. Seems so obvious, but sadly self-interest regularly gets in the way. But is is worth pondering the question in whatever leadership role we have – how am I doing on the humanity scale? What level of empathy and understanding do I afford others? List 5 ways your humanity has shined through in the past week.

Nissan fuses tribes and technology for college sports sponsorship

November 9, 2015
Nissan ain’t being shy with its strategy of hitching brand expansion efforts to sport sponsorship deals. Alongside sponsorship of ICC and UEFA tournaments, Nissan recently announced a massive deal to back 100 American colleges across 22 sports. We’re talking college juggernauts such as Ohio State, University of Texas and Oklahoma. We’re also talking about a new ability to leverage its association with America’s second most popular spectator sport: college football. To give its new deal some initial traction, Nissan has gone innovative. It’s launched a free Diehard Fan app, which allows fans to use a photo or video of themselves to virtually paint their face with any of the 100 colleges’ colours. Before you dismiss the app’s capabilities, you really should take a look below. The finished product is remarkably life-like. This is a pretty shrewd move. It allows Nissan to edge its brand into fans’ consciousness by tapping into the tribal, fervent nature of US college sports. Nissan is injecting itself into the heart of a college sports ecosystem typified by old rivalries, the thrill of wearing the same school colours as parents or grandparents and raw, passionate support of a current school or alma mater. Further, the app serves as a credential to show Nissan understands the college sports landscape. On its technological merits alone, the app is a fun, novel and conversation-generating way of establishing a connection with the market. With some colleges home to 100,000 plus capacity football stadiums, college sports running 11 months of the year and extensive cable TV coverage, Nissan decision to go big could well end up with a touchdown.   Image: scmikeburton via Compfight cc

Toyota, ISIS and an awkward brand endorsement

October 8, 2015
It’s definitely the sort of global, consumer-driven endorsement that companies would rather do without. Toyota HiLux trucks have emerged as a near constant fixture in ISIS videos, from convoys of HiLuxes kitted out with heavy weapons or terrorists jumping from the trucks to commence brutal executions. To compound the company’s embarrassment, the US government recently asked Toyota to explain how ISIS acquired the vehicles. This sort of adverse association isn’t new for Toyota. An interesting 2010 Newsweek article points out that HiLuxes have been favoured for decades by militants from the Middle East, Africa and Central America. The article, via counterinsurgency expert David Kilcullen, summarises the vehicle’s appeal: longevity, high ground clearance, an ability to cover ground well and people mover capacity. You can’t help but feel a little sorry for Toyota. In this instance its brand has suffered solely for living up to one of Toyota’s enduring and defining brand promises: quality. Toyota is drawing negative publicity precisely because the HiLux is functioning the way it was intended. The HiLux’s reliability in arduous conditions and its ability to handle heavy haulage has simply appealed to ISIS just as much as it appeals to tradies around Australia. In response to the US government’s inquiry, a Toyota representative said all that could be really said – including it has a strict policy not to sell to people who may use them for terrorist activities. Essentially, Toyota will just have to ride this one out. It would hope consumers are intelligent enough to recognise the situation is beyond its control. It will also need to continue to be seen doing what it can to protect the integrity of its sales deals and supply chain, despite the reality that it’s impossible to stop HiLuxes ultimately reaching people who want them. This “endorsement” does get you thinking, however, how the owners of Harley Davidson felt when bikie gangs started embracing their brand!   Image: alex1derr via Compfight cc