October 18, 2012

When was your worst time?

October 17, 2012

What’s your favorite typeface?

October 17, 2012

What’s your favourite typeface?

Should the font you use be neutral? Or should the font connote the message? Some people believe that fonts should be neutral. And that it should stay objective and allow the message to do its job. Others do not quite agree. We say it depends on the context. Not as a cop out.There should be other things that should be considered like, what is the message? Where does it appear? What does it want to say? All these are important. Here’s an example. You read about a gory scene in your favourite thriller? There is nothing gory about that typeface […]
October 16, 2012

How true is your brand?

October 15, 2012

What’s the price?

October 12, 2012

What’s your key?

When you hear someone say “Life’s too short”, it is almost always followed by some hedonistic action that cuts life short. Or make life miserable. You would think if life’s too short, one had better use it for better benefit of self or others. Life’s too short is a key for a better you and a better world. It’s not an excuse to knock back the 30th tequila shot. Is your life too long?
October 11, 2012

When’s the beginning?

When you start something new, everything starts anew. You build new credentials, you learn new things, you apply new knowledge. Whether it is for your brand or for your life. It works the same way. Getting into a new market, selling a new product, introducing a new feature. Getting a new job, transfer to a new department, getting used to a new work process. If experience works, good. It’s a bonus. But never walk in thinking you know. Thinking too highly about the credentials you have build. You know something. Yet, you know nothing. Building and rebuilding. It’s keeps everything […]
October 10, 2012

Do you know what I mean?

October 9, 2012

What is your weapon of choice?

October 8, 2012

Is it getting easier?

It’s easier to communicate directly with the consumers now. If you are a small brand, there are a lot of tools out there you can use to your advantage. You need not rely on big budgets. You can set up a Facebook page for your brand, you can upload Youtube videos for your brand, Tweet and a bunch of other things. So it’s easier now. You don’t need to rely on others. You can do it yourself. But the fact that it is easier, also means a lot of other people can do it. So you still have the same […]
October 5, 2012

Who is always better?

There is a saying, “The current generation will always think they are smarter than the previous generation and wiser than the next.” I think it’s true in the business world too when you look at it. Managers who come in and take over a position will always feel the previous manager screwed up. Made the wrong decisions, could have done better. And when they vacate the position, their successor will never be as wise as they are. I think we need to understand why decisions were made the way they did before we jump to conclusion. Who are you better […]
October 4, 2012

What irritates you the most?

I think “Why it irritates you?” is a better question to ask. Irritants are invites to look into the mirror. To what is wrong with us. Not what is wrong with the world. I would suggest that – the things that irritate you the most could very well be because they act as a reminder that you have weaknesses that you are aware but unwilling and unable to change. No one can irritate you unless you give them permission. If you accept that you cannot change others but you can change yourself, then “what” is not as important as “why.” […]
October 3, 2012

What is the bare minimum?

If you want me to explain, then you have to be open minded. If you want to benefit from the time, sweat and brain juices I have sacrificed, you have to at least believe I am genuine in sharing. If you want to advance your cause, you have to at least peep at the course I have pointed. If you want to overcome that hard problem you have, you have to at least know I have your best interest at heart. How do you want to benefit?
October 2, 2012

What decision did you make?

Most people think when things do not change in an organization, it is usually because there is no commitment to the cause. I would say it is compliance to the cause that is the cause of things not changing. What do you want to change? Sales figures? Brand image? A way of doing things in the company? Then commit to the decision once. After that, every action is about compliance to the commitment. Let me repeat that, compliance to the commitment. When people resist change and “ifs” and ‘buts’ their way through the commitment; and are allowed to get away […]
October 1, 2012

Are you worth people’s time?

Whether you are someone’s clients, suppliers, bosses, employee, brand, friend – whatever that role is, you need to ask yourself if you are worth people’s time. Are you worth my time telling you that you are making a mistake? Are you worth your bosses’ time to send you for training? Are you worth your employees’ time to ask you the right questions? Are you worth the supplier’s time to speed the delivery for you? Are you worth the shopkeeper’s time to give you that discount? The most precious element in people’s life isn’t gold. It’s time. Who did you tick […]
September 28, 2012

What are your expectations?

Realize how when someone becomes the customer or client, they naturally expect hell of a service from you? We are all someone’s client and someone’s supplier all at the same time. No matter how rich or how high ranking you get. That’s just how the commerce world works. So sometimes it is good to remind ourselves that expecting good service is only natural. It’s even a must. But service doesn’t mean servile. Who do you slave for?
September 27, 2012

When does the real work start?

From conceiving the product to naming it, then cooking up the marketing plan, and eventually having to sell it. At every moment, you dream of being able to finally stop and rest. But rest never comes. After a step, there is yet another step. After you have sold a bunch, you go back and see what you did right and what you did wrong, and figure out how you can sell more. It’s called marketing samsara. When does the real work stop?
September 26, 2012

Do you trust your previous successes?

How did it succeed? What were the parameters the success was measured by? When did it happen? Are the conditions still the same? Who were the people/parties involved? Is the organization vastly different? Why do you think the previous success can be replicated? Asking these questions will probably build on previous successes and it is better than not asking. But some are just too egoistic to ask. Fear of failure or failure of fear? Do you fear previous failures?
September 25, 2012

What’s the meaning of work?

At the end of the day, you are probably just searching for a meaning behind what you do. Whether you are self-employed or working for someone else. People who extol “it’s just work”, “work is not life”, and similar quotes just confuse themselves. They end up making themselves unhappy day-in day-out. It’s great to find meaningful work. But if you don’t, perhaps finding meaning in work is the answer you are looking for. What’s your meaningful work?
September 24, 2012

Are you building a business?

One of the toughest challenges we face is convincing business owners that having a healthy business does not mean they have a healthy brand. Even if your brand is not strong, it is very possible that you have a very healthy business. Think about the wholesalers in the wet market. They make wads of cash. But as far as branding is concerned, zero. Well, near zero. The opposite is also true. You can have a very strong brand but your business may be weak. Businesses close down even when they have strong brands. Brands die due to mismanagement of business. […]
September 21, 2012

Are you building a business?

I think it is safe to say we all want a good day. You wake up in the morning wanting the day to be good. But what is a good day to you? In other words, what would constitute a good day? How would you measure it? If your aim is for a good day, then perhaps you need goal posts to mark what would be considered a good day. A goal you aim for, so to speak. Otherwise, how do you know what to aim for? How do you judge the day when it ends? Would a day with […]
September 21, 2012

What is a good day?

I think it is safe to say we all want a good day. You wake up in the morning wanting the day to be good. But what is a good day to you? In other words, what would constitute a good day? How would you measure it? If your aim is for a good day, then perhaps you need goal posts to mark what would be considered a good day. A goal you aim for, so to speak. Otherwise, how do you know what to aim for? How do you judge the day when it ends? Would a day with […]
September 20, 2012

What’s the real reason?

Two things should occur in your mind whenever you are quoted examples or case studies that seem to buck the trend. One, ask yourself if this is an anomaly. And more importantly, ask yourself is it “despite” or “because” with whatever results that you are being shown. For example, when told so-and-so is an asshole and that made him a gazillionaire; first ask yourself if it is an anomaly. Then ask yourself, did this person become a gazillionaire despite being an asshole or because he is an asshole? If (a gigantic IF) you hear that I beat Manny Pacquiao today in […]
September 19, 2012

Is every lottery ticket a winner?

We would like to think so. Same goes with the plans that we make. And most times we stick to the same old plans because it’s worked before. “What if the new plans don’t work,” we ask. Then we won’t have a smart phone today. Nor the microwave. Nor the simple pencil. As we innovate our plans, we will get new winners. And some losses along the way. And each time we aim for the jackpot. Sometimes, an accumulation of small wins IS the jackpot. Regardless, the chances of success via relentless doing and experimenting are better than winning at […]
September 18, 2012

Do you want to be the same but different?

I’m sure you’re wondering how it can be different if it’s the same. That’s what a lot of brand owners want inadvertently. They want their brand to be different. To stand out from everyone. Yet, they want consumers that are used to the category to be able to identify that the new brand is ‘in’. How much courage do you have?
September 14, 2012

Another question?

If you have had the company of a toddler, you will know what I mean. Everything is a ‘why?’ It’s their way of learning and knowing. Sometimes their whys cause you to think. Especially when you don’t know the answer to consistent whys. Yes, we do ask brand owners why too. Sometimes, too many. The whys help us understand the purpose, the meaning to lead us to the insight.  It’s never our intention to put them in a spot.  We want to make the brand trumpeting successes not thumb it down. What’s your answer?
September 13, 2012

Do you see the light?

We all want tangible results. Now. Forget about long term. See it, feel it, believe it. Now. Then again, some things cannot be a ‘now’ like building a relationship with a stranger. It takes time. Effort. Attention. Patience. Winning someone over is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. That stranger is your consumer. Are you groping in the dark?
September 12, 2012

So you think you can do it?

Dad’s an ordinary government servant but he’s a handyman. He is self-taught and proud of it. Fixing and tinkering things from cars to electrical, electronics and plumbing whatever. He just loves it. It sure saves loads of money if you can do it yourself. And there are many such talented people out there who can do things themselves too. None of his children inherited that trait. In fact my brother used to tell him “My hours are expensive. It’s better for me to outsource these things than spend my time doing it.” I admit DIY skills sure do come in […]
September 11, 2012

Who’s not busy?

Ever met those people who use the word “busy” like it’s some sort of award? “I am so busy, I have so much on my plate, I burned the midnight oil.” You know people who say that all the time. The thing is you should not be impressed with people like that. I don’t care how busy you are. Who’s not busy in the first place? What we care is what you have COMPLETED. What have you done? That’s more important. Moving paper from one tray to another repeatedly for eight hours can make you look very busy. But that […]
September 10, 2012

Who’s the leader?

In a competition, you have to deal with the opponents and the cheering or jeering spectators. It takes a lot of discipline to focus on your goal while keeping an eye on your opponents lest they spring a surprise on you. If you are at a leadership position, the pressure is even greater to keep a strong lead. Take heart. Keep the courage to pave the way instead of following your followers. Or competitors who are lagging behind in this case. Leaders lead. How else can you stay ahead?
September 7, 2012

Who is right?

A dentist shared that sometimes the most obvious may not be the obvious. Let me elaborate. A patient complained about a toothache on the lower jaw and insists that the tooth should be extracted. Upon examination, the dentist noticed that there is a worse decaying tooth on the upper jaw. Experience tells her that the upper tooth is causing the pain not the lower tooth. Against the insistence of the patient, she has to convince the patient to remove the upper tooth for the pain at the lower tooth to disappear. Illogical as it may seem, it worked! After the […]
September 6, 2012

What’s the recipe?

We all have a certain way of doing things. Even down to which side of our teeth we use most often. (You will only notice this if your dentist tells you to use only the not-so-comfortable-side for biting while she does the renovation work on the other side of your teeth.) Doctors, dentist, chefs, surgeons, artist,etc. They keep abreast by reading up journals, attending seminars on the latest techniques and discussion with peers. I think in the medical field they call it “continuous medical education.” This shows that what we learn and mastered may not be the only and best […]
September 5, 2012

Do you deliver solution or frustration?

It’s really easy to say it cannot be done. Delivering that line moves the monkey from your back to the other side. You may think is solves your problem but it only delivers frustration to the other side that is depending on you for a solution. Let me give you a few scenarios: A customer asking for an exchange because he discovered some clumped up capsules in his bottle of supplement. Sorry, it can’t be done.  A customer asking for a replacement seat because he missed his flight – not due to his lateness but because he didn’t hear the […]
September 4, 2012

Where’s your emphasis?

I attended a meet the other day. This is one of the rare occasions that I encounter a considerate and objective-driven client. His request was simple – show me the storyline, if I agree, you then demonstrate the art. His objective was simple – finalise the storyline before the full work is done. The artist saves his time and the client is happy with the results. Instead, the artist was more interested in showing the full work; the client was trying to see the meaning of the work. The solution is very simple, set objective, set the strategy and the […]
September 3, 2012

Which one do you use?

Do not put all your eggs in one basket. Focus all your efforts in one thing. So,which is which? If you start with the wrong premise, the equation is wrong and the answer will surely be wrong. Quotes are nice. Knowing which to apply is nicer. What’s your assumption?
August 30, 2012

What do you do with your time?

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” – Gandalf in The Fellowship of the Ring. What good have you done?
August 29, 2012

Who’s provoking you?

If you are in a position of power say for example being a client or a boss. Pray that you are blessed with people who would provoke you into thought. Especially, people who would ask you the right questions. Because no amount of success you have now guarantees success in the future. When being questioned makes you uncomfortable remind yourself – comfort breeds complacency. Discomfort tells you something is wrong, whether physically or mentally. What’s the source of your comfort?
August 28, 2012

What have you not seen?

You are an old soldier. What have you not seen, heard and experienced? So, why the drama when something happens? No amount of unreasonable requests, stupid remarks, arrogant whoever should entice the negativity out from you. You are an old soldier. Approach every event with Zen-like calmness. Otherwise, you are just a rookie. What have you not heard?
August 27, 2012

How do you value your contribution?

By now, most of us would have known that Mr. Neil Armstrong passed away on Saturday. In a statement issued by the family after his death, his family “hope that it (his life) serves as an example to young people around the world to work hard to make their dreams come true, to be willing to explore and push the limits, and to selflessly serve a cause greater than themselves. For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you […]
August 16, 2012

What do you believe?

I tend to believe clients’ and agencies’ practice of branding is very much like people’s practice of religion. Pick any religion. It doesn’t really matter. Some will say they practice a particular religion. But they talk more than practice. Some will practice certain parts of the religion but neglect others. Some will be very myopic in their interpretation of practices. Others will practice but fail to understand why they do it. Yet others will do because others are doing it. Some question too much instead of understanding and experiencing. How do you practice?
August 15, 2012

What’s your definition?

Whatever business you are in, you should have a definition of that. I don’t mean a vision or a mission type. Or some swanky terms like “your field of competence”. What I am referring to is something even simpler. For example, if you are in the beauty business – what is your definition of beauty? If you are in the health care business – what is health to you? If you are in the branding business – what is branding to you? If you are in the education business, what is education to you? Something you and your people can […]
August 14, 2012

Where is the Olympian in you?

“Citius, Altius, Fortius.” Faster, Higher, Stronger. The Olympic motto. Whether you look at it from a business or personal stand point, we can always be better. But saying you will be better and actually putting action behind those words is a big difference. If it takes 10,000 hours to truly become an expert, how much time do you spend behind your expertise? The Olympians you cheer now spent countless hours to be the best in their fields. Unquantifiable personal sacrifices where no medals are given. The next time you say you want to be better, make sure you don’t insult […]
August 13, 2012

How should you proceed?

Take credit for what you have done and how far you have come. But to go further, give credit to people who have contributed to your life – good and bad. To move on with full of greatness, you must first be filled with gratefulness. Who are those who got you here?
August 10, 2012

What do you give your customers?

I mentioned this before – reward your top 2% consumers. Your true loyalist who not only spends a huge amount with you but promotes you willingly. Of course it is tough to pin-point these people. But when you do, there’s your pot of gold at the end of the marketing rainbow. I am starting to keep track of what my bank sends me via sms. This is what my bank sent me in the past nine days – spend x amount and get a free coffee maker, 15% off ala carte menu of a certain restaurant very far from my […]
August 9, 2012

Have you heard yourself lately?

Recently the head of a company (a client of ours who built one of the biggest company in its category here), told his people, “If everything is a “no” what is a “yes”? So refreshing because if it came from us, we would have been labeled an “arrogant” or “rude” agency. Who do you want to hear it from?
August 8, 2012

What’s your plan?

A communication plan is not a marketing plan. A marketing plan is conceived first. Then a communication plan is mapped out based on the challenges of the marketing plan that communication can help address. You don’t ask for a communication plan when you don’t have a marketing plan. It doesn’t work that way. How else do you want me to say it? Why the lack of a plan?
August 7, 2012

When was your last dialogue?

The spirit of Koinonia practiced by the ancient Greeks is a system of dialogue that allows for the free flow of the collaborative spirit. Even Einstein is said to have engaged in this free spirited exchange of ideas where each party seeks to expound on their ideas without trying to change the other parties. They also freely state their idea no matter how controversial it is. The rules are simple, don’t argue, don’t interrupt and listen intently. What is wonderful about the spirit of Koinonia is that it allows the participants to talk through their ideas while the others suspend […]
August 3, 2012

What do you want to do?

Whatever you want to do with your brand is fine. Eventually, you have to ask – will it make your consumers happy. As difficult as it may be and no matter how tied down are you to your marketing dogma – the last question you should ask is – will it make my consumers happy? What decisions will you make?
August 2, 2012

What are you obsessed with?

Obsessing with something does not necessarily make it better. Sometimes you need to relax and let go. Passion, tenacity, focus. These are very good words. But they aren’t the same as obsession. Give some space in your mind and whatever challenge you are feeling with what your ad agency gave you. The solution will arise. Don’t like the new brand name that was proposed? Let it go. Don’t agree with the design your freelancer proposed? Let it sit for a while, say a day or two. No matter how impatient you feel. Obsessing over something you have no solution for […]
August 1, 2012

How strong are you?

People try to be environmental. Save a piece of paper here. Recycle a bottle there. But they do not even bother to take navy showers. There are some who fights for world peace. Champions all sorts of causes. But they do not bother to even let the car in front an inch of space in a traffic gridlock. So much for peace. Then there are those who scream that others are so stupid. Naïve. Ignorant. Spoils their day. As if the world owes them their peace. When there is a piece of treasure at the top of a tall mountain […]
July 31, 2012

What are you preaching today?

“We can educate them. This is how great my product is, it will do good for their (health – or whatever, insert at will here).” We are all pretty sure your brand and product needs to be bought by everyone. Just so long as they know how good it is they will buy. But it doesn’t work like that. To sell to someone, sometimes it is not about educating. You can change the word “sell” to convince, persuade, convert, whatever. If you want someone to act upon the information you gave, it is easier if what you say agrees with […]
July 30, 2012

Which wall would you choose?

I don’t think you can extricate “trying new things” out from the term “creativity”. That being the case, why is it that you find it so challenging when confronted with a problem that needs some creativity? Try new things. Creativity shouldn’t scare you. It’s always inviting you. Just like a box of crayons and the walls in the TV room invites your four year old to express herself. Go ahead, try new things with your brand. It’s scary only because you have forgotten what it means to scribble and doodle with nary a care for the world. What are you […]
July 27, 2012

What can a brand share?

I reckon if you want to make your brand personable, you can make your brand share with the world lots of things. Share fear, share tear, share a meal, share blood, share sweat, share vision, share skills, share knowledge, share money, share thoughts, share pain, share gains, share strength, share good intentions, share kind words. Your turn. What would your brand share?
July 26, 2012

Which title do you seek?

You are first a son, daughter, mother, father, husband, wife, sister, brother, friend. Everything else you do help fulfill these most important titles in your life. Are you chasing the right title? Precisely. When is your evaluation?
July 25, 2012

What difference does it make?

If you want your brand to make a difference, then make it a difference the consumers can feel. Otherwise, it is not considered a difference or a unique selling point. Or whatever terms you use. Worst of all is a difference you are doing just so your competitors will feel the difference. You know if you make biscuits and you load it with 13 vitamins and 11 minerals just so you have one vitamin and one mineral more than your competitor? And you think your consumers will know the difference and you spend a huge wad of cash educating your […]
July 24, 2012

How should you say it?

hen it comes to pronouncing brand names the correct way, there is somewhat of a snobbishness in it all. Especially in Malaysia, I think. If you pronounced “Louis Vuitton” with an audible “s” I am sure you will be corrected by a friend. Or “Hermes” with the “s” sound as well. The other day, I heard on the radio a DJ corrected another when his colleague pronounced “Preve”, “pre” as in “pre-match” and “ve” as in “v”. The DJ said the correct pronunciation is “Pray” and “vay” and not “Pre-ve”. Got me thinking. Did you realize that in Malaysia, there […]
July 23, 2012

What do you need?

July 20, 2012

How’s your day so far?

Things are always at a constant change. And in this change, you are always attaching yourself to what you think is positive and you want that to continue for as long as possible. But that positive whatever that you cling to will change. That is why there is so much dissatisfaction. I didn’t say this. A famous teacher said this more than 2500 years ago. So today if you have absolutely no idea how your day will turn out or if your day sucks at this point in time? Accept the fact that you need not cling on to it […]
July 19, 2012

What would you do with the freedom?

July 18, 2012

How many should we have?

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