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.


What We Do


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.


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.


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.


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.


Client Brands




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

The Amazon story of employer brand self-sabotage

August 21, 2015
A fascinating piece about Amazon’s workplace culture surfaced a couple of days ago in The New York Times. Based on interviews with current and former Amazon employees, the article illuminated the company’s combative and uncompromising work practices. Here are just a few of the descriptions of the Amazon work experience that appear in the article: At Amazon, workers are encouraged to tear apart one another’s ideas in meetings, toil long and late (emails arrive past midnight, followed by text messages asking why they were not answered), and held to standards that the company boasts are “unreasonably high.” The internal phone directory instructs colleagues on how to send secret feedback to one another’s bosses. Employees say it is frequently used to sabotage others. [Bo Olson] lasted less than two years in a book marketing role and said that his enduring image was watching people weep in the office, a sight other workers described as well. “You walk out of a conference room and you’ll see a grown man covering his face,” he said. “Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk.” David Loftesness, a senior developer, said he admired the customer focus but could not tolerate the hostile language used in many meetings, a comment echoed by many others. A woman who had breast cancer was told that she was put on a “performance improvement plan” — Amazon code for “you’re in danger of being fired” — because “difficulties” in her “personal life” had interfered with fulfilling her work goals. Their accounts echoed others from workers who had suffered health crises and felt they had also been judged harshly instead of being given time to recover. At present, this workplace culture does not seem to have adversely affected Amazon’s business success. It recently superseded Walmart as the most valuable retailer in the US. Additionally, maybe the strength of its consumer brand can offset the employer brand deficiencies laid bare in the article. Ongoing success will continue to act as a magnet for prospective employees who want to work for the best regardless of what they may have to contribute or sacrifice. But it is hard to accept that the very public exposure of Amazon’s inner machinations in The New York Times would not have a negative impact on its employer brand. A percentage of high potential, well-qualified people would surely reconsider whether it is worth working for Amazon, especially when other successful companies are perceived to have more employee friendly environments. It is also worth considering whether the toxic elements of Amazon’s employer brand will be in time taken on by its consumer brand. The article also draws attention to an intriguing dichotomy about how other employers viewed Amazon’s employer brand. Companies such as Facebook have opened offices in Seattle and benefit from former Amazon employees who are valued for their work ethic. However, the article points out some companies are cautious about hiring Amazon workers because they have been trained to be combative: “The derisive local

Domino’s Pizza uses tasty technology to make its brand number one

August 19, 2015
Last weekend, on a whim, I jumped on Domino’s Pizza’s website to order a pizza. I was after convenience and I got it: it was easy to order and pay. But more interestingly, I wasn’t cast aside immediately after my money had digitally changed hands. There was a time-elapse wheel that kept me updated on what stage my pizza was at: order submission, preparation, cooking and delivery. I then sat fascinated as I watched, via GPS tracking, my delivery driver make his way to my house. I was given his name and photo, and when his progress stalled (presumably at a red light) a little poll appeared asking me to speculate why he had stopped – had he seen Hugh Jackman? Was he pondering a new combination of pizza toppings? I’m not sure if I would follow my pizza’s progress as closely next time, but that’s beside the point. I was impressed. I valued the transparency and the involvement. Domino’s seems seriously committed to leveraging technology to advance its business. It went live with online ordering way back in 2005. Last year it introduced Pizza Mogul, which allows people to customise pizzas, market their creations via social media and take a cut of the profit when the creations sell (some bloke made $50 000 in fourth months using this process!). Earlier this year it shaved the online ordering process down to four clicks with a ‘Quick Ordering’ option and at the start of July it launched the GPS tracking. When listing the business’ four big pillars in an interview with Business News Australia, CEO Don Meij mentioned technology first. Product, store and image followed. That’s big. How many food industry CEOs would cite technology ahead of product? This focus on innovation has allowed the business to flourish despite having a product that most would not consider a market leader in taste. Domino’s can afford for its product to sit at an average, “good enough” standard because it’s secondary. When I ordered Domino’s on the weekend, I, like many others, prioritised ease and a customer-friendly experience ahead of a pizza that would uphold the finest gourmet traditions. We don’t want to go anywhere or pick up the phone and speak to someone; we want to click a few buttons and be done. Domino’s is constantly improving on that offer in ways that far outstrip its competitors. It’s also inventing ways for customers to digitally engage with its brand, like the Pizza Mogul program. This strategy is succeeding. Domino’s accounts for 43 per cent of the pizza market, ahead of Pizza Hut (23 per cent), Crust Pizza (21 per cent) and Eagle Boys Pizza (12 per cent). Maybe Pizza Hut can stop piss farting around introducing excessive, niche products like the Four n’ Twenty meat pie stuffed crust pizza and get tech-savvy.   Image: Kake . via Compfight cc

Can a new brand help Malaysia Airlines soar again?

August 5, 2015
It is hard to conceive of a bigger branding challenge than what lies before Malaysia Airlines. The airline has become synonymous with the MH370 and MH17 disasters. New CEO Christopher Mueller articulated as much when he pointed out Malaysia Airlines’ demand now correlates to social media mentions of MH370 rather than price in a recent interview with Fairfax. A new company will replace Malaysia Airlines on September 1. Mueller has provided some signposts as to what direction the airline’s new brand will take: “Brand is not just the name and the logo but is more what your airline stands for. We will embark on the idea that we provide value for money for our travellers”. This rebirth strategy is likely to be accepted by the infrequent traveller market segment, which prioritises price over airline allegiance. The association of the Malaysia Airlines brand with the risk of mortal danger – an overriding consideration that beats even price – will no longer stand as a barrier to the airline being considered by this segment in its purchasing decision process. Most infrequent travellers have trouble differentiating between the numerous Chinese or Middle Eastern airlines and the new brand would blend into the pack with little market awareness. There are reasons why the new brand should also have traction with frequent travellers and loyal customers. Given the amount they travel, there is a good chance frequent travellers would have reconciled the Malaysia Airlines tragedies in a more positive light – viewing them as freak occurrences in the context of millions of flights safely taken around the world each year – and see the new brand as a necessary business evolution. You would also hope that the airline built enough equity in its old brand for its loyal customers to naturally follow it across to the new one. Finally, you cannot discount a nationalistic desire for the airline to succeed feeding loyalty in Malaysia. One thing is certain: the new brand needs to ideally represent an energised proposition. What is it going to stand for? What value for money is the airline going to provide? It would be great to see the brand own something; whether it is the youngest fleet in the world, the most skilful pilots (unprecedented training?) or amazing service despite the price point. However, just when you thought all of this was hard enough, the airline is technically bankrupt and suffering low staff morale. In light of what it’s been through, I hope the airline can use the new brand to refresh itself in the market place. The real test is whether a name change will influence a purchase decision either way.   Image: Neuwieser via Compfight cc