Building Better Brands


6:04 PM

"Leadership culture is  self-reinforcing web of beliefs, practices, patterns and behaviors. It's the way things are done — the way people interact, make decisions and influence others."- Center for Creative Leadership

The role of a brand has shifted from visual identity to cultural leader; a leader of the the communal actions and words that reflects a combined "truth" in the world. Most brands have a short-sighted and inward looking approach to marketing that focuses on the needs of the company instead of reinforcing a cultural mindset. It results in the failure to see and adjust to the rapid changes of the world, and the people your business is ment to serve.

"The concept of marketing myopia was discussed in an article (titled "Marketing Myopia," in July-August 1960 issue of the Harvard Business Review) by Harvard Business School emeritus professor of marketing, Theodore C. Levitt (1925-2006), who suggests that companies get trapped in this situation because they omit to ask the vital question, "What business are we in?" -Business Dictionary

“Some people persist in thinking that marketing is about ads or low prices. It's not. It's about human nature and promises and who we see when we look in the mirror.” Seth Godin

“Stop asking people to pay attention to your brand, start doing things worth paying attention to...... Marketing, at its core is about connection.”  Monia Poncik

Design Thinking


2:22 PM

"Why are you volunteering your knowledge, you should be charging for it" I was told last week from a well meaning friend.

I believe in a culture of giving.

"Agencies can create new tools, show new ways to use data, produce motivating content and devise impactful media strategies, but if they fail to create a culture of collaboration, long ideas and impact, they will not win in today’s complex marketing ecosystem.....In a generous culture, client teams blended from multiple disciplines do not feel threatened by who did or did not “get the credit." - Colin A. Kinsella 

Design Thinking MTL is a skill-based volunteers group (where I hold a seat on the executive team) offering hands-on creative problem-solving training to curious minds.
Next session we are working in partnership with daana ; a community that is cultivate an ecosystem of generosity and well-being through
#MONTREAL we invite you to bring your big beautiful brains together to spark change within our community.

Next sessions start Oct 27, 2017 District 3 Innovation Centre



3:51 PM

I pulled out a 8”X5” note book on our last meeting with @before.the.wire and he said “…usually your notes are poster size, I don’t think I’ve ever seem you write in something so small before”. The strategic process is messy to start before you can see a theme emerge. I love the mess, and proudly display it in my work space. It’s my art.

I have a lot of friends who are writers, painters, designers, and photographers; we call them "creatives". I believe that strategic planners should fall under that title. With a background in design, I can see quite a few parallels with the strategic process and the creative process. With both you need to feel your way through the work with intuition, and emotional intelligence with a frame of mind centered on how will this piece connect with people in a way that "moves" them.

"Strategic Planning connotes an organized, step-by-step effort. It’s true, but it’s also quite messy because it’s a change initiative. In fact, the only reason to have a strategy is to effect change..." wrote Gerri King Ph.D

To jump on the quote bandwagon “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” - Albert Einstein

What does "be kind to youself" look like?

3:47 PM

The last two weeks the research has shifted me towards the topic of empathy for one self as a form of connection with yourself.

Over and over again in my one-on-one interviews the question came up: "what does be kind to yourself look like?" and "what does taking care of yourself like you would a friend mean?" "What should I be doing to nurture the relationship with myself?"

Thank you Connecte Montreal Psychology for sharing this gem from The School of Life


3:44 PM

Me: "How do you feel about your brain dump"
McGill student: ""Like with having any dump, it felt good"

I love hearing stuff like that!

10 hours, 3 cups of coffee, 4 facilitators, 1 challenge and 20+ eager brains from McGill created a million solutions to one massive problem....the day was just a taste of how the oh so "buzzy" Design Thinking process is a mind set, not just another business model.

This way of creative problem solving is not new, it is a creative intelligence that is part of a designers process. I've used it through out my 15 year agency career under many other names and planning tools.

I love that the world is becoming accepting of "Creative Intelligence"..."the ability to frame problems in new ways and to make original solutions" Bruce Nussbaum

Thank you The McGill Innovation Collective for hosting us! Myself and fellow Design Thinking MTL facilitator with SAP and Humanos and many others curious minds  to get a hands on "people first" problem solving experience.

Check out Design Thinking Montreal where we will be posting about all our community events you can join.


Building Better Brands


8:56 PM

Typography quote by one of my favorite designers Timothy Goodman


Fuck inspirational quotes… how’s that for feel-goodery? Not so good, right?… wrong. It’s utterly feelgood because the truth is better than vacuous sugary cover-ups. Here’s the truth: I’m filled with doubt and fears on a daily basis and I’m tired of being forced to always think positive and feel I’m in the wrong for having these “hard” emotions. Life is hard, let’s admit it, face it and be TRULY happier as a result of at very least having acknowledged it.

Still reading? Good, let me explain. Something very interesting came out of my research last week for one of my clients. After deep-diving into focus groups and wading through interviews of their target audience, we identified SHAME as a core motivation for people’s thinking and actions. A take away from Brene Brown’s Shame Shields course was to talk about the shame to feel release. It sounds easy enough, but in reality no one wants to acknowledge their shame. We feel shame in feeling shame, and so instead we huddle in secret groups and whisper about them.

 “The negative ideas of your mind have to be released, not repressed by positive ideas.” ……….“The philosophy of positive thinking means being untruthful; it means being dishonest. It means seeing a certain thing and yet denying what you have seen; it means deceiving yourself and others.”-Osho

The happiness bandwagon we are all jumping on is a story we’re buying into simply because we’re all trying to live in a constant state of glee and upness. It’s brand messaging and content that is constantly selling “happiness”. It’s fake, not real, and frankly kinda of perverse. To connect with your audience whole-heartedly why not start by acknowledging both sides of the story? We laugh and cry in equal measure, and one emotion feeds the richness of the other — that’s the beautiful duality inherent in the human condition, and hiding from it is using eyeglasses like a monocle — inefficient and odd… You may lose a few followers along the way but the ones that stay with you will be your true “fans” who will truly advocate on your behalf thereafter.

Influencer Marketing


6:13 PM

heads up: you are not special

I have a damn problem with the title “influencer”. Why? Because lately it’s being so widely as the answer to “what do you do?”. To create influence you need to identity what it is that you will be influencing. “Influencing people has been a 150-year study in the world of marketing.” Terry O’Rielly deep dives on influencer marketing in one of the best researched articles (and podcast): “we now have a subset of marketing called Influencers. They are regular people who have amassed huge social media followings. They offer tips, give advice and recommend products.”

Just so we are clear:

An influencer is someone who can influence a thought or behaviour in someone else.

While we discussed the role of influencers in marketing, a client said to me: “just because I really love food doesn’t make me an expert enough to open a restaurant”. Which reminded me of the article “Just do what you love” is terrible career advice. Finding that “sweet spot” where you can have influence on someone’s opinion first means that you need to have something to share that someone else is looking for.

To identify your niche, become an “expert” and be passionate about what you do takes time — it implies going through the process of discovering and building, and that can take years. Patience and hard work is the key to real knowledge, and real knowledge is what influences.

When you find an interest that sparks intense curiosity and then turns into obsession, you will fall in love with that interest in the process of indulging it. Now that’s something worth sharing.

Document, and then choose what to share and when to share your process and knowledge of your development. Share it in the format that is most comfortable to you.

This is a process, tame your FOMO. 
There’s no rush, internet is not going anywhere. 

You do not need a title to create influence, we are all influencers, just at different stages of our development. Build Content with intention.


If you liked this article please share so other people will see it.

Building Better Brands


2:16 PM

Don't know where this film director said this Will Keenan , either way he speaks the truth.

“Big Data is not a strategy. It is just a lot of data.
Automation is not a strategy. It is a process done by machine.
Hyper-personalization is not a strategy. It can be creepy.
Content is not a strategy. It is everything.
Social media is not a strategy. It is all media.
Innovation is not a strategy. It is a fancy word for new ideas.
Bots is not a strategy. It is a software that runs automated tasks.

A strategy is not about big words. It is all about choices.

Focusing on a segment of the market is a strategy.
Prioritizing a geographic location is a strategy.
Emphasizing a brand attribute is a strategy.
Doubling down on a particular time of the year is a strategy.
Solving a particular problem is a strategy.

Avoid jargons, make clear choices.”

Alberto Brea
Executive Director, Engagement Planning at OgilvyOne Worldwide

Like in all industries, Marketers have their own language, but for better or for worse theirs has seeped into every day use, and unfortunately misuse — to the extent that it risks losing all its original meaning. But even before that, nobody even really gets the difference between strategic, channel, tactical planning.
I often find myself talking in circles wondering why my words are confusing my listeners, and where is my babble fish to translate. Recently I was asked to speak on a panel addressing the topic of building marketing strategy. So this is as good of an occasion as any to attempt to demystify the jargon and breakdown these two loaded words for you: marketing and strategy.

Strategy is really just a fancy word for setting business goals. My issue with this word is its total and complete overuse. When everyone claims being a strategic problem solver it diminishes the real value of strategic planning. What we’re facing is an industry in which “strategy” is being tossed around the room merely for the sake of ego. That’s got to stop.


Marketing Strategy on the other hand means setting marketing goals. It’s as simple as that. I’ve heard all sorts of goals set when creating marketing strategies. Any other numbers of any real importance are either KPI (Key Performance Indicators) which are measurable check-points to track how effectively the plan works (ex. click through rate of emails, average over value, number of promo codes used, etc) or sales numbers. There are only two real marketing goals:

1. Getting new customers (Acquisition, or sometimes refer to as Awareness)
2. Keeping existing customers (Retention, or sometimes refer to as Loyalty)



A marketing plan is a playbook that specifies how a company will meet their marketing goals to either reach new customers or keep existing customers. In spite of the online world making it easier than ever to create and distribute a message, the basics of business need to be defined before developing anything:

· Business goals
· Marketing goals
· Who is your Audience
· Your audience’s problem, and/or your “why”
· Brand Messaging
· Pricing & promotion
· Channel plan
· Tactical plan
· Budget

Here’s where things can get a little mucky. There are so many “marketing strategies” (aka channel plans, marketing models, marketing programs) to choose from — I have found 127 in total, YES, 127!

A good recipe is a combination of them at once. For example some online marketing strategies include a pinch of influencer marketing and eComm marketing, a heavy dose of email marketing and search marketing, with a touch of offline marketing and event marketing.


Once you figured out the combination that will work to meet your goals then you need to bring it to life. This is what we call tactical plan: the set of touch-points activities that carry out the strategy. For example, if you have decided you will be using email marketing as one of the strategies, a touch point can be the welcome email that is sent out when your audience first sign up, and the series of emails, information and promotion they receive when signing up to your mailing lists. The way these tactics work together as an integrated and coordinated whole (marketing mix) matters far more than the nature and type of each individual tactic.

That being said, I want everyone to go back to that list and look carefully because social media strategy is not on that list BECAUSE SOCIAL MEDIA IS NOT A STRATEGY — it’s a tactic. I’m picking on social media because of the excessive amount of people using the term: social media strategy. Social media is the newest form of word of mouth marketing (WOM) and should be only one of several communication vehicles used for a dialogue with your audience.

The tactical portion of your plan is how you “physically” engage with people and create and overall experience for your audience. Personally I’m a big believer in tactical plans needing a combination of real life and digital touch points so as to bridge the gap between person, screen and brand.

Once your tactical plan is in place (guidelines, calendar and a list of activities based on channels) then you need to DO IT — develop, create, execute, design, build, project manage — basically get it out there and see what works and doesn’t work, then adjust based on data and feedback.


You must be thinking of the hassle of it all now. Well, I have seen plans that are 3–5 pages long that include only 3 tactics, and some that are 100 pages long that pull out all the bells and whistles. There is no one size fits all marketing solution to reach your audience. What I do know is that without a plan you’re shooting in the dark, so hassle or not it’s absolutely needed.

If your target is short term sales I have no doubt that any marketing efforts should get you at least some traction. When I Google “how many people are in the world and use social media”, the answer is 7.1 BILLION people in the world with and estimated 1.96 billion on social media.

But if you’re looking for long-term growth and relationship building with your audience then build a plan and keep adjusting it based on your audience needs and how they connect to your brand’s values. Focus on closing the gap between marketing and sales, develop based on your brand values, business objectives, audience needs (human problem), and the time and budget that you have available for this.

You’ll notice I have started using the word brand. Before you even start with your marketing strategy or develop your plans — build your brand. But that’s a whole other blog post “Demystifying branding jargon” Stay tuned.

One last thing
If you liked this article please share it so that others can be inpired.

References that inspired this post:

Stop Using Battle Metaphors in Your Company Strategy
Frank V. Cespedes Harvard Business Review December 19, 2014

Marketing Plan Handbook by Marian Burk Wood
The New rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott



3:51 PM

Join me as I start the conversation on a modern approach to marketing, and how tapping into our shared vulnerabilities as humans can create greater connection for your brands.
May 18, 2017


Tapping into your emotional intelligence of your brand
Maison Notman House
51 Sherbrooke Ouest, Montreal, Quebec H2X 1X2 
Free conversation hosted by Women or Wonder

In this fast pace every changing world we’re swimming through the "noise" trying to find something to connect with. Something that resonates and impels with us to be better, to feel fulfilled, to be part of something bigger. This is where marketing practices come in because these are all about connections.

When I first started my career in marketing I became obsessed with a question: why does the advertising work? BrenĂ© Brown talks about how real connections are forged through empathy, and so what makes your marketing work is how people connect with it. 

Over the last 15 years of working in branding and marketing circles I have come across countless reasons why most marketing efforts are ineffective. Most people are misguided in their marketing strategies. For example we’re told to push aside any type of emotional information when developing strategies, whereas in truth plays a very big part in business.

Emotional intelligence means understanding your audience’s basic humanity. When you combine emotional intelligence and business intelligence you start asking better questions about how you can connect your brand with people. This is THE key to long-term sustainable marketing practices for your brand.

And last but never the least, Elvis Prestley is NOT dead people, wake-up! If he was how come he’s still heard on the radio?... Think about it. All this and more at Notman house, where the weird meets the wild and the wild is never mild.

Building Better Brands


11:43 PM

I have a few things on my list of "what do I want to do with my time here on this earth". The second item on that list is: helping the non-profit and public sector connect with their audience, and solve REAL human problems. 

I have seen first hand the struggle of regulations, red tape, working in large committees,  lack of funding and resources of this sector, it can feel like an uphill battle to create change and impact in the system. I am proud to say that I am one of the leaders of a voluntary program that I hope last a long, long, LOOOOOONG time. I believe it has the potentially to create a lasting change in the mindset of leaders to problem-solving and build solutions with empathy.


Is the brain child of a Corina Paraschiv. We met in an online class hosted by IDEO U last summer. We were allowed to browse through other's peopler's projects in the class, and here's caught my eyes. She used words like: CHANGE, DO GOOD, NO PROFITS. EMPATHY. Basically, the same message that have been ruminating in my mind for years. I was lucky enough to start working with her in the Summer of 2016, and after trials and set backs, it's coming to life.

Design Thinking Montreal is  volunteer-based platform promoting innovation for communities. We bring together Design Thinking experts sharing their knowledge, community leaders and volunteers seeking to apply their creative-thinking skills for good.

The mission of Design Thinking Montreal is to connect community leaders, with the people in the community who are passionate and compassionate, working together  with the goals of solving problem the people in the community have experienced. Basically with the design thinking workshop you get the chance of being part of creating  impact, and a possible change in the social services Montreal has to offer. 


Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer's toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.” —Tim Brown, president and CEO, IDEO

Design Thinking is a core element of the strategic marketing model I have built, and have been using with my clients. I believe that it is a most powerful tool and when used effectively, can be the foundation for driving a brand or business forward to create more authentic connections.  Basically, it's the step by step process for building something with somebody else in mind.  


Design Thinking Montreal will be hosting free workshops around Montreal where we teach a human-centric approach to problem-solving. 

Our first initiative is Thursday, April 20 at 5 pm where we will be facilitating a crash course in Design Thinking. Partnering with Ste-Justine Hospital we will be working to solve the problem of families navigating the hallways. You don’t need to bring anything but your big beautiful brain, and $3 to cover prototyping materials.

We are always on the look out for people from all walks of life to participate in the workshops, as well as any experts out there with a human-centric approach to business to donate their time.
Together we can start #BuildingBetterBrands



Mo&Co. is a next generation agency; offering small and medium size businesses the flexibility of a “made-to-measure” freelance marketing team.