brand as culture



In a world of change, some things never change

I have recently found myself doing a lot of talks and workshops on and around the subject of ‘change’.

Not that surprising really. ‘Change’ is the Zeitgeist of our time, defining the mood, the attitude, and the outlook of companies and people.

The brief I get is always along the lines of, “Change is a problem for our people; can you turn it into something positive”. Not that surprising either. We are all creatures of habit and comfort, and few of us spring out of bed in the morning screaming, “Yes! Another day of glorious change is upon me.”

Instead talk of ‘change’ creates unease, anxiety, and even stress. Margaret Mead [social anthropologist] observed the impact of change on remote communities and tribes, and described change as akin to “being an immigrant into a new time”. There are no signposts indicating the way forward. There is no how-to instruction manual that gets passed down the ranks. There is a lack of precedent, as yesterday’s lessons and experiences count for little in a brand new, changing world.

As the saying goes, “Nothing is more dangerous than yesterday’s success”. And so the challenge facing business leaders today is how to successfully navigate such unchartered waters as they run and grow their companies. How do you possibly respond to this?

Well there are some things that never change, and that’s where I suggest people turn some of their focus and energy.  And that is people, and YOU.

Did you ever read How To Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie? Written in 1936, it was the first ever self-help book. And while a lot has changed since 1936, these six tips on how to engage and relate to people hasn’t changed one little bit:

1.        Smile.

2.        Remember that a person’s name is the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

3.        Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain.

4.        Give honest and sincere appreciation.

5.        Arouse in the other person an eager want.

6.        Make the other person feel special.

In a world of change, the one constant you can always depend upon is what people want, how people like to be treated, and what you can do to win people over.

It all boils down to Brand YOU. Like a yacht being tossed around in the seas of change, Brand YOU is the keel that keeps you upright and on track. So what is your keel? Underneath the storms and winds of change, who you are really? What do you believe in and stand for? How do you behave and relate to others?

Get straight with yourself on these things and I reckon you’ll be in good shape to navigate the ever-changing oceans of change.

brand as story


A brand that speaks to a man’s heart

Gillette’s film about a son helping his elderly father shave won the Cannes Gold this year. And deservedly so.

The ad follows Kristian Rex (a NYC session singer) as he carefully and gently shaves his elderly dad (who has been left incapacitated by a stroke) with the new Gillette TREO razor. Apparently the idea for the new product came after Gillette noticed numerous social media conversations describing the difficulties faced by care-givers when shaving their loved ones.

The headline copy on the Gillette TREO website reads:



Gillette introduces the first-ever razor designed solely for assisted shaving.

What this campaign does for the Gillette brand is to shift it FROM the traditional, typical, male, muscle, macho shaving brand stereotype TO a brand that is in touch with men in a real way.

It speaks to our hearts, and for that I love Gillette’s work.

Agency: Grey New York

brand as culture



Rule #6

Two Prime Ministers are sitting in a room discussing affairs of state.

Suddenly a man bursts in, apoplectic with fury, shouting and stamping and banging his fist on the desk. The resident Prime Minister admonishes him: “Peter,” he says, “kindly remember Rule Number 6,” whereupon Peter is instantly restored to complete calm, apologises, and withdraws.

The politicians return to their conversations, only to be interrupted yet again twenty minutes later by an hysterical woman gesticulating wildly, her hair flying. Again the intruder is greeted with the words: “Maria, please remember Rule Number 6.” Complete calm descends once more, and she too withdraws with a bow and an apology.

When the scene is repeated for a third time, the visiting Prime Minister addresses his colleague: “My dear friend, I’ve seen many things in my life, but never anything as remarkable as this. Would you be willing to share with me the secret of Rule Number 6?”

“Very simple,” replies the resident Prime Minister. “Rule Number 6 is ‘Don’t take yourself so fucking seriously’”.

“Ah,” says his visitor, “that is a fine rule.” After a moment of pondering he enquires, “And what, may I ask, are the other rules?”

“There aren’t any” replied the resident Prime Minister.

Amen to that.