I’ve had to have a chuckle at my expense at not quite being prepared for even the slightest increase in online visibility. Let me explain. As the ever-curious learner I’ve found myself in multiple post-grad study environments throughout my communications career. This time, as I wade through the complex and intense landscape of a digital marketing course, the embarrassing datedness of this blog and another I have, made me wonder if I should just come clean with my first world problem of time poverty. Afterall, how better to tell you given if you’re here, you’ve probably clicked on a standard text ad – because I know for sure that my blog inertia would not have me ranking. I get it Google!

The experience of AdWords alone is something else. No wonder there are agencies offering expertise in this extraordinary platform, with whole teams dedicated to keyword searches, ideas targeting and diagnoses. The deep dive that the Australian College of Marketing’s digital marketing course offers, is a real eye-opener. It’s the sort of goldmine that digital media departments should condense into a presentation and show management at breakfast before there are any more questions about why BrandX isn’t selling.

What struck me following a conversation with a potential lead yesterday is just how closely aligned digital and marketing thinking needs to be working but likely isn’t. As I crawl more deeply into this fascinating, algorithmic world, where I now critique all digital information I am served with just a snippet (I have a long way to go yet), I’ve realised just how many more questions about a brand can be and should be asked if it’s to succeed online. And our compulsion with sales doesn’t need to be the defining metric!

I’ve always had a quiet soft spot for the other worldliness we are sharing right now, where brands, their voices and the conversations they generate, reside. So while my understanding of brands, due to a near 20 years working with branding agencies, has had an enormous impact on how I write and think, I’m pretty excited that I’ll have another feather in my cap later this year thanks to the Australian College of Marketing.

Time to return to my world of words that has changed forever. Always special just strengthened in ways I’ve always wanted, but never made time for.

Check out ACM across all social channels too – of course!

Real leaders collaborate

It’s the businesses that can assess their culture’s health that have a tendency to produce the best work. It’s the teams, lead by values driven leaders where ego has no part to play, that are the happiest and most productive. Collaborative management, consumer focused products and services, marketing communications which target dialogue and engagement as central to achieving objectives, satisfied and inspired employees – today these form the blue print for business success. Interesting that whichever way you look at it, it all starts internally.

“My definition of a dickhead is a person whose ambition for themselves or their own career is greater than their ambition for the project or team.” Rhys Newman and Luke Johnson, No Dickheads! A Guide to Building Happy, Healthy and Creative Teams.

Creative businesses, perhaps unsurprisingly, are great at sharing their thoughts and guidelines on the subject. The common idea celebrates the empathic, accountable and thinking individual which itself acknowledges how we thrive personally and professionally, and the connection between the two.

In their sharing of how they’ve made their workplaces happy, healthy and creative, Rhys Newman, (ex Director of Advanced Design, Nokia and VP/Head of Design, HERE – a Nokia Company) and design researcher and internal communications specialist Luke Johnson (ex Internal Communications Strategist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Principal Design Researcher, HERE) – talk through every facet of a studio laying bare the power of simple gestures – “good morning”, “goodbye” – the importance of food to bring people together, the lives we lead outside of work with family, hobbies and pets, the wonder of language and story telling .

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Follow this link for a relieving and validating exhale – A guide to building happy, healthy and creative teams.

Brooklyn based digital agency Big Spaceship is equally as culturally aware. They’ve shared their philosophy on Slideshare – read Our Manual. Big Spaceship also makes for a great case study in a recent interview by Lindsay Rothfeld on Mashable which looks at people, physical space and human interactions.

Let’s hope this thinking becomes the mainstream with “No Dickheads!” 2015’s professional development mantra.

Making the magic happen – Toast Creative explains the complexities of property branding

Nick Sammut, Managing Director, Toast Creative uncovers the complex process of selling the dream.

The property development market is thriving, and as it incrementally changes the face of every Australian city, it’s inevitable that we consider its implications. The current pace of the sector has triggered our personal enquiries about how we want to live and why, while also radically transforming communities culturally, socially and commercially. Understanding these shifts in perceptions and knowing how to tap into the needs and expectations of a specific market are key to our role as a creative agency working in property branding.

The property development market is thriving, and as it incrementally changes the face of every Australian city, it’s inevitable that we consider its implications. The current pace of the sector has triggered our personal enquiries about how we want to live and why, while also radically transforming communities culturally, socially and commercially. Understanding these shifts in perceptions and knowing how to tap into the needs and expectations of a specific market are key to our role as a creative agency working in property branding.


Public relations professionals should listen to Fairfax

I came across this in my inbox today. A subscriber value-add from Fairfax. Quite nice. Raw and passionate. Believable. Senior journos explaining the meaning behind their craft, what drives them and its importance to contributing to social good. Journalism must be independent. It’s Fairfax’s mantra – ‘Independent. Always.’

Few professions can offer the same amount of integrity and purpose.  But if you’re a communications person, as I am, and work in public relations dealing with the media, listen to their words closely.

Unless you are approaching your media relations with the same energy and intent to impart knowledge and information that is useful, relevant or interesting – I’d have to agree, you’re treading dangerous waters if you want to catch a serious journalist’s attention.

“For every one journalist there’s probably about a dozen PR people who are trying to hide the truth, says Adele Ferguson.

Don’t be one of them, I say.



The profitability of customer-centricity

Move Fashtronics

Design Your Own Phone Case

There is sheer power in a strategically crafted master brand. Not only can it be used as a guide for all your brand communications, but the brand intelligence invested in it can be leveraged to completely transform your business. The purpose of a strategic branding program is to meaningfully, logically and visually communicate your brand’s offer, ultimately driving profitability. (more…)

Logorama – 2,500 logos in 2009 award winning French animation

Logorama is a 16-minute animated film written and directed by H5/Francois Alaux Hervé de Crécy and Ludovic Houplain, and produced by Autour de Minuit. It won the Prix Kodak at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival and the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film at the 82nd Academy Awards. It uses no less than 2,500 logos to show the extent to which brands are embedded in our existence. Logorama is of course a visual hyperbole of our daily branded lives yet frighteningly realistic. On viewing this film you realise our relationship with any of these brands rests almost exclusively on consumer action and direct experience.

Craft your brand to drive business success

Consumers are brand curators in this integrated, experiential, social screen age. What are the questions brand owners need to be asking, and to whom?

The sheer number and complexity of meanings assigned to the word ‘brand’ is a modern marketing dilemma. Add to this consumer expectation of the role we expect brands to play in our lives, and how we want them to behave, and you’ll hear dissension in the ranks.


More than a logo

LogoHereIn the land of brand (in Australia), some practitioners would agree it is enormously restrictive to align the discipline of branding so closely with the “logo”. The weight we assign this particular brand asset may contribute to a brand’s profitability over time by cleverly shifting perceptions, appealing to the visceral and ultimately affecting consumer purchase decisions, but a brand’s actual success is derived from a more complex application of the term. (more…)

Australian brand and design companies suffer from media invisibility.

Australia has some bright sparks in the brand and design industry, but who’d know it outside of its network?  As a marketing discipline that is responsible for the creation, development, evolution and management of brands, it is curious why design and branding in this country still exists as a mystery to those who are not directly involved.

My prompt for this article comes from online searches (including key industry media) that consistently fail to show much content with a brand and design focus to attract readers in the business, brand management or marketing sectors. The point here is that design and business are intrinsically linked yet there is a clear disconnect between the two. Why? (more…)

Shazam misses World Cup craze

Shazam and the World Cup? What’s going on? Where are you? You came out at the Super Bowl with your most successful campaign yet with a live performance from Bruno Mars, and you’ve been appearing on US TV screens for almost two years. The world’s biggest sporting event launches and you’re almost invisible?

Shazam enabled marketing or the Shazam integrated experience – whatever you want to call it, the concept takes engagement to a new level. Australian audiences are still uncertain of the viewing disruption but we’re well on the way to creating meaningful and relevant second-screen entertainment experiences.


Regardless, I’ve got to say the World Cup must be the biggest missed marketing opportunity of all. The numbers speak volumes. In 2010, 106 million people watched the Super Bowl in contrast to the 909.6 million TV viewers who watched at least 1 minute of the 2010 World Cup Final. The event is generating about 500,000 mentions daily and is likely to be the largest social sports event ever.

For Shazam, the appointment of Patricia Parra (ex Hulu content marketing executive) to the role of CMO on 12 June may have come 12 months too late, although it does flag an exciting era ahead for the audio identification app brand. The brand headed up in Australia by CEO Andrew Fisher, opened a local office in 2013 and in the 12 months prior had launched campaigns with global brands including Diageo, Proctor & Gamble, PepsiCo, Unilever, HTC, Brown Forman, Blackmores, SC Johnson, Lion and American Express. Maybe these should re-run, timed with our (consumers’) better understanding of second screen engagement as a way to connect with brands. I’m not sure we were clear on the point of it all back then.

Pinterest, on the other hand, was on the case six months ago with the launch of its Place Pins campaign designed to help people find places to watch the World Cup matches. The campaign originated out of the US with partners ESPN, Conde Nast Traveller and Trip Advisor, a strategic and clever move –

…and for the record in just under an hour there have been 2,451 posts on Twitter at #WorldCup2014. Amazing!


While Pinterest ramps up analytics for brands, We Feel tracks global mood

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This week’s launch of the We Feel project – developed by computer scientists at CSIRO and mental health researchers at Black Dog Institute – – to map the world’s real-time emotional state, is pretty crazy stuff. This easy to use emotion-barometer revealed some hair-raising emotional insights when I searched for stats on global love, lust, joy, fear, neglect and more. But in all seriousness, this is important work and the application of this technology in the mental health sector is what I’m keen to see play out, both domestically and internationally.

This type of mapping through the language of emotion got me thinking. Could Pinterest, as an archive of visual thoughts laden with humour and sarcasm, be used purposefully to gauge sentiment for brand marketing purposes? I’m talking above and beyond the menu of analytics tools available.

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So, testing the waters, and analytics aside, I conducted a quick search using a few of the corporate standards. I was thrilled to see such honesty. These neat snapshots from times past and present are pretty powerful. They reflect satisfaction, dissatisfaction, anger, happiness, ideas and ideology. Emotions drive consumer actions on a daily basis. Acknowledging which are relevant to your brand at any one time, or tracking public sentiment about your brand over a given period, or being aware of the pre-dominant emotion tracked by We Feel to feed into a regional brand strategy, could be the missing link you’ve been looking for to really connect with your consumers.

Pinterest offers a library of emotional mood boards that if interpreted intelligently could enrich consumer-brand strategies when read alongside the insights drawn from analytics. Exciting times ahead for Pinterest and brand marketers on a platform where pictures really do paint a thousand words. Pinterest lists 18 brand success stories on its website. Etsy is one of them. Read it here –

Leadership and authenticity in a social world

The debate in business circles as to whether senior management should actively use Twitter as a business tool resurfaces consistently and has been the subject of many marketing studies along with its digital cousins. Application of the insights that these studies offer to brands, brand management teams (and to all businesses that understand the power of branding), will most usually be managed in consultation with a communications professional.

Virtual handshake

Virtual handshake









You’re not you when you’re hungry.

The 26/3/14 launch of the latest instalment of Snickers’ long running ‘You’re Not You When You’re Hungry’ campaign, received much attention on social media, but possibly not for the right reasons.


Helpful communications questions


Most communications problems tend to be complex.The following probing questions may help you to generate even greater ideas for your next communications task. Perhaps you’ve devised a system already, but you can never ask too many questions, right? Click on the following link to view – Communications questions

The beauty of social



Social and digital are the most critiqued channels in the mix. If we strip them right back, the intent is clear. We simply have a fail-proof conversation starter that also happens to be the most far-reaching regardless of the product or service you offer. Social facilitates integration and provides perspectives you never thought you’d consider; it educates and informs. How you engage is your choice, as an individual – as a consumer. The beauty of social is its unique ability to seemingly tie everything together. Just don’t over-think it. There are many examples. Here is a recent beauty.

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