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



5:54 PM

I am acutely aware of everything that was confessed by the unnamed disgruntled strategic planner in the latest Digiday Confessions. I believe the marketing industry is flawed, but because we are such great storytellers we have convinced ourselves that it’s all ok and we're turning a blind eye. I am confessing that it is not.


Creative problem solvers are necessary for the smooth function of society. Unfortunately, we are breeding an industry based on fear, as we need to prove our worth for the service we provide because marketing is one of the first services businesses cut when there is a lack of funds. Marketers acts out of preservation, and unfortunately that has lead to a number of negative side effects:

Abuse of young talent and the birth of a “churn and burn” industry culture, creating stories and mass communications that target people's inner critical voice of “not being good enough”, lack of diversity in the culture and as a side effect the lack of diversity in the work we produce, industry jargon that has been over used to the point that they have lost all meaning, the need to stay on top of the “newest” thing to appear as if you have a competitive edge.

By SAPNA MAHESHWARISEPT. 30, 2016 The white-male-dominated culture of advertising agencies, as depicted in the TV show “Mad Men,” is still a reality, and some brands are looking for change. Credit Justina Mintz/AMC
I was a victim of all of these things, my intuition was shouting at me as soon as I entered the agency world. It was saying: “THIS DOES NOT FEEL RIGHT”.
All I wanted was to do good work with the skills I have; I was forced play the game to “make it” in the industry. I felt I had no other choice. When I tried to change paths, I was still stereotyped based on my “big agency” experience.


Seth Godin has a book titled: Marketers are Liars (Storytellers). I agree! We are! We are so good at telling stories that we believe with all our hearts that what we are doing is “good”. Mass content shapes the opinions, mindset, and actions of the masses. "Marketing is Powerful. Use is Wisely"-Seth Godin.

Marketers are such great story tellers we sometimes buy into the story that we are "helping". I just finished helping write a manifesto for bottled water where we highlighted that people are tired of being fed fake realities, and we need to get back to the imperfection of nature…..we wrote and recorded and powerful piece that gave us all shivers, with the knowledge that this product category is a large contributor to pollution, and that consumers were sold the idea of bottled water as a need. Everyone in that room knew we were twisting the truth for the sale.

I believe our hearts are in the right place; we want to do good. Unfortunately“solve a human problem” is not usually a business objective.

I believe that marketing has the power to create real change in the world, we just need a few strong partnerships between brands and agencies to start a cultural shift.

More and more agency people I have worked with have been feeling this way, but are scared to speak up against these issues. No one wants to "start a fight".  When I sent out to the world my post on “Can Marketing Do Good” I was shocked at the amount of people who silently reached out to me, and said they have been feeling the same way.


My work has recently embedded me into the start-up world where the next generation of marketers reside. They are not fully aware of the destructive nature of the work and the culture, they have created “Mad Men” celebrity status of the industry. The new generation of marketers are the most motivated, hard-working and well informed generation I have had the pleasure to work with. They are not afraid to learn from leaders, to take on a mentors and apply advice.

Our responsibility as an older generation is to pass the lessons learned from our mistakes; they can build better brands that will have a positive effect in the world. We need to stop lying to ourselves start creating marketing with intention and content with integrity.

Building Better Brands


3:23 PM

I am back at it! After not touching my blog for over 8 years I am breathing new air into it. After leaving the agency world in January 2017 to creative my own thing, I was curious to see if I was consistent through out the years with my core values, and mission to "do ood with marketing"....Turns out, YES! I was happy to see that I have always felt this way.

I believe that marketing can influence to create positive cultural change. Marketing done right can inspire movements by sparking large groups of people, who hold similar values and beliefs, to take positive action.

image source:


I had an itch to “do good” with marketing through out my career, and had no idea how to satisfy it.
I believe that marketing can influence to create positive cultural change. Marketing done right can inspire movements by sparking large groups of people, who hold similar values and beliefs, to take positive action.
Large brands and industry leaders hold the key, and financial resources, to communicate at a large enough scale and enable significant change that is needed in our world. Unfortunately, in my experience, this power to communicate has not been harnessed for good; consumers like myself are looking for brands to stand for something. Sustainable Brands write about the increase in consumer want for “Purposeful Brands”.


“Who are you, and why do you have an opinion on this topic?” you may be asking:
At the age of 21 I devoted my life work to understanding the motivation behind consumer behaviour, and brand storytelling, after being trigged with curiosity from the book “Why We Buy” by Paco Underhill. I found that I have a natural ability for the craft, and have been working in the marketing for over 15 years since. I toggled between brand strategy, creative direction, design, and account management throughout my career in the agency world. The super power I hold is called: brand marketing and content planning (I also wouldn’t mind to have the super power of teleportation).
I have been trying to use my marketing super powers for good since I started my career; in 2006 I organized a small event in Montreal called the “Design ‘N Dash” bringing together content creators, designers and nonprofits. The event was to provide marketing support to an industry who struggles to get their message across due to lack of resources. In 2011 it resurfaced for a brief moment in a drunk rant, slowly I was seeing a change in brands when Toms Shoes was created with the intention to give back.
As I attempted to do good from within the system, the brand managers I worked with felt drawn to the idea of “doing good”, but in the end business and sales goals always won over altruistic intentions.


I have been lucky enough to have worked in a number of agencies, with brands both locally and internationally, including Imperial Tobacco, P&G, L’Oreal, Constellation Wines; where I have crafted my marketing skill set, and collaborated with some of the best in the industry.

Still, I have a love-hate relationship with marketing and what it has done to the world.

My super powers were being used for “not-so-good” intentions. For years I have felt uncomfortable with the way society was being fed needs and wants, about things they do not need or want as it preyed on emotional vulnerabilities of people.
The reason that we accept all this advertising is that we assume that we can tune most of it out. If we don’t pay attention to the ads, then they won’t have that much of an affect on our behavior. Sure, the makers of commercials can try to jack up the volume, but at least we have the right to look away[……] the most powerful effect of advertising is just to create a good feeling about a product by surrounding it with other things that you like. It is also important to point out that affective conditioning is most effective when you don’t realize that it is happening[….]The problem is that we allow advertisers to have access to our mental world. They have paid for the opportunity to slip information to us about what feels good. That information ultimately affects the way we make choices, whether we know it or not.


I have been wrestling with myself and sitting in discomfort, shame and vulnerability for the last year and a half, fearful that I wouldn’t be able to make it through the other side.

Yesterday I was asked “what is it that will make me happy?”

A younger, more passionate, less fearful version of me answered with out hesitation: “I want to use the skills that are the strongest in me (I like to call them my secret powers) for good”. I shocked myself when I heard the words come out of my mouth — I have not said them in years.
I want to help aspiring though leaders change the conversation; I want to be part of a movement where the power of marketing assembles a tribe that chooses to make a positive change in the world. Thought leaders rarely emerge by accident. They typically follow a strategic plan producing remarkable content that is shared to the world.

I will sit in the shadows and guide leaders great and small connect with their people to create authentic positive movements.

I will help build better brands; now I need to figure out how to do that…….
I AM HEADING TO THAILAND IN 4 HOURS with 3 notes books, a backpack, a copy of Rising Strong, The Artist’s Way , and The Hero’s Journey and a passion to change the conversation. I hope to reset after my year of sitting in vulnerability, unblock my creativity, and figure out how this will all manifest itself into actions.
Stay tuned!

Shopper Mkt

First Virtual Store

9:20 PM

World's First Virtual Shopping Store opens in Korea. All the Shelves are LCD Screens. User Choose their desired items via the LCD screen and checkout at the counter in the end to have all their ordered stuff packed in Bags.

Photos and article via Bit Rebels


O.B. Tampon's Video Appology TO YOU

5:57 PM

Screen shot from my personalized video
Got to love it when a brand is wise enough to take a problem and turn it into an opportunity to communicate with consumers. A distribution problem last year meant that OB Tampons (Johnson & Johnson) were not available everywhere. To regain trial they are providing coupons of for the product (nothing special there right?), with a personalized apology to each consumer.

The consumer typed their name into the web site, and an over exaggerated (which makes is quite enjoyable) personalized music video is song to you. I have an uncommon name, which is usually mispronounced, making me a little skeptical of the quality of this video before I even tried it.
Surprisingly the personalization was seamless, it seemed like the video was created for me....I also really enjoyed having my name sung to me. What a great way to connect to consumers online (by placing them within the interaction) and generating trial (yes, I downloaded the coupon at the end).

I have tried it with both male and female names and it looks likes only female names work with the video...way to target the audience.

Try it out for yourself:

Socially Conscious Brands

Brands Doing Good

12:19 PM

 I have read what feels like a million branding books, blog sites, white papers that all explain the same conversion tunnels to fulfilling the needs of a consumer. But how do you make someone feel something for a brand identity? A real emotional attachment (proud to be connected to this brand), and share this information with everyone, any way they can.I asked myself "what do my friends share with each other when it comes to a product/brand"?. Yes, when a new innovative product comes out with fancy bells and whistles it does create a buzz. So the quality and the features are huge. But, I have noticed more conversations focusing on when a brand is using their powers for good. We are drawn to brands that have added to their marketing strategy an investment in creating social awareness and helping out the world in some part. As a consumer I like being linked to these brands because I feel that I am taking action, and part of the solution (even thought it is a small part).

Here are a few good examples of brands proud to align their identities with a cause:
We have all seen the wonderful holidays ads Coke runs every year with the polar bears. This year Coca-Cola has developed white Coke cans in support of white polar bears and the World Wildlife Foundation or WWF. The white Coca-Cola cans are part of a marketing campaign aimed at protecting white polar bears and polar bear habitats.

The Cadbury Bicycle Factory’s mandate to build and send bicycles to school children in Ghan. Unlike in North America bicycles represent more than a way to have fun outdoors or a way to get some exercise. Bikes provide a much-needed mode of transportation to move food, water, and people and especially to give children access to education.

Finally there is Toms, a brand that embodies social change. TOM was founded on a simple premise: For every pair you purchase, TOMS will give a pair of shoes to a child in need. One for One.
I am a consumer, I am drawn to advertising, and love to shop. As the needs of all consumers in a part of the world where we live in abundance giving back is becoming more and more essential. I try to  shop with meaning when I can. Check out Giving Brands also if you feel the same way.



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