Strategy today is about judging opportunity.

If I think about the key areas that I focus on – the commercialisation of brands, the importance of brand culture and the development of rich stories and content – the business of brands has ever been more complicated.

The expectations on senior marketers and their teams to steer a distinctive course, identify what they need in terms of technology, secure budget, and to prove ROI through tangible demand generation have soared.

Marketers today are being pressed on all sorts of issues:

  1. How do you sort all the data that’s available to you in ways that clarify strategy rather than just clouding the issues?
  2. Where do you invest in your brands, and how do you explain what you’ve prioritised?
  3. How do you square the need for a diverse workforce with the advantages of a shared and purposeful mindset in your brand culture?
  4. How do you tell a story that stands out from the crowd and drives sales?
  5. How do you insist on creativity and innovation at the same time as asking your agencies to do more with less?

Battling complexity and short-termism

In some ways this surge in questions is a good thing. For too long, CMOs and senior brand managers weren’t taken seriously enough as strategic thinkers and as true contributors to the business. But now, the range of subjects that falls under marketing’s purview is broad, and the responsibilities increasingly complex. The need for business and brand owners to define their strategy and execute with confidence and persistence are huge, and yet the temptations and pressures to still think and react short-term are rampant.

That’s particularly true I think when there are big decisions to be made: changing course; disrupting a sector; redefining the underpinning culture; telling a new story over a longer timeframe.

I help senior decision makers, marketing specialists and brand managers to define and articulate how they move forward at critical moments of change for the business.

Finding the angle

For me, problem solving is about taking an informed yet lateral approach to the key issues you’re facing and addressing those with optimism and positivity.

  1. Strategy: I challenge how businesses perceive problems and the ways in which issues get framed because it’s only by rethinking situations that new answers can be found.
  2. Brand: I look at why consumers shift their expectations of brands and how those changes can and should impact your marketing strategy.
  3. Culture: I’m fascinated by what motivates and excites people in cultures, and the ways that change needs to be effectively framed in order to work.
  4. Content: With my strong writing background, I understand the structures and discipline within which content needs to work in order to communicate most powerfully for a brand.

The LASSO global brand expansion system

Effectively targeting high value sources of growth has been identified by the American Marketing Association as the biggest problem facing marketers today.

Together with brand licensing expert Pete Canalichio, I’ve co-created the LASSO system that enables companies to accurately evaluate their ability to expand their businesses. Based on dozens of interviews with top executives at some of the world’s biggest brands, our system helps companies decide whether to consolidate or diversify their brand offering, the critical scale at which they need to operate and how and where they should be using their intellectual assets to best advantage.

One of the key frustrations that we identified was that too many people involved in marketing consulting for brands do so only from within their disciplinary silos. The LASSO system provides a way for you to identify who you need to bring together from across the various disciplines (including brand strategy, licensing, brand protection, brand valuation and brand management) in order to generate a brand capable of achieving its potential.

Pete’s new book Grow, Thrive, Expand features the LASSO system. It’s one of a number of books in which my thinking about brands and the business of brands is included. You can order Pete’s book here.

To find out more about the LASSO system and how you can use it to your competitive advantage, please contact me.

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Upheavals blog

Upheavals is my blog for restless minds. It’s packed with observations, perspectives, questions, ideas and what I hope are new thoughts and new models. There are >600 posts on Upheavals, which has been rated amongst the top 100 brand blogs in the world.

Here I focus on the changes and developments in business and brands that catch my eye (and perhaps should catch yours). Upheavals focuses on what it takes to prosper in today’s ever changing, socially-charged business world. Top posts include:

Guest writer and commentator on issues affecting business and brands

I’ve been writing about the disruptive issues affecting business and brands for a number of years.

I was a founding contributor to, working alongside a cadre of writers that included Marc Gobé, Martin Lindstrom, Tom Asacker, Scott Bedbury, Chris Macrae and more. Later I became Editor.

For a number of years, I was a regular contributor to Branding Strategy Insider, a highly respected  brand strategy blog read by CMOs and brand marketers. I wrote more than 350 posts on all aspects of brand and branding on that site.

Today I share my thinking on business, strategy and branding as a media commentator in a range of places. For example, I’m a guest writer and co-writer for Entrepreneur.

Emerging business conversations

My company The Audacity Group is looking more and more at what we’re calling responsible business mapping – resolving how organisations will need to think, converse and act going forward in order to really engage around ethical issues, and make tangible, positive and desirable contributions to significant societal and environmental change without compromising their commercial agendas. It’s a fascinating series of conundrums that I will continue to ponder and post on.