Writing and Branding 101…and Then Some

Learn everything I know from over 15 years' experience as a brand storyteller, content consultant, author, magazine editor, facilitator and college instructor.
Latest entries

Case Study: Brunch & Marketing Phobia

This afternoon I did what all self-respecting Torontonians do on the weekend–I went for brunch with my partner, Joel. (Yes, in case you didn’t know, Sunday is official brunch day in our thriving little metropolis.) Because I’m a passionate foodie, I happened to know the one amazing brunch place in the city that wouldn’t be...

10 Steps to Writing Great Content

Yes, there are 10 steps. Keep reading. It’ll be worth it. First, here’s a secret I learned while working for a national business magazine, editing some of the country’s top business writers. Ready? Everyone’s first drafts suck. Period. And knowing this just happens to be the cure for writer’s block. Also, that crappy first draft...

Branding Differentiation: A Café Case Study

It seems like a no-brainer to me that if you’re going to sell something, it has to stand out from the competition. It needs at least one unique differentiator, and it must be something people care about.  But often new business owners skip this important step, or don’t give it the emphasis it deserves. Let’s...

Why Caring is a Branding Tool

One thing I’ve noticed—and maybe you have too—is that many businesses barely give a crap about their customers. To put it in business-speak, there’s a deficit of caring among businesses in the world right now Many of them pretend to care. Yeah, Big Bank, I just love having someone run up to me to say...

So You Think Branding’s Tacky

Some people (not you, of course, because we both know you’re smarter than that), think they’re above branding themselves, their product or their company. Because that branding thing’s just tacky, isn’t it? I mean, why would you want to actually let people know, in some memorable way, what you offer and why they should care?...

The Art of the Unconference

Though I’m in no way an expert, I’ve attended and helped organize a number of Unconferences or “Open Space” events now; I’ll share what I’ve learned with you here. Benefits of the Unconference 1. It requires much less administration than traditional conferences. 2. It encourages a greater level of collaboration and participation. You end up...

Four Steps to Story Branding Success

Since you’re here, I’m going to assume you already understand the importance of branding. If you don’t, please start with my post “So You Think Branding’s Tacky.” Because it doesn’t have to be. My whole “thing” is making sure it’s not. Your branding should be based in truth. Yes, truth. Because you are building relationships...

A Story: My Night as Santa

It begins at my apartment. Jesse arrives first, a tall, thin man with gentle, wary eyes. I met him for the first time a couple days ago at a workshop and spontaneously invited him to join us. He talks and I listen. I feel like he needs someone to do that for him: just listen....

The Suck Factor

Many of us weren’t taught that mistakes lead to learning; we were taught that mistakes mean we’re bad or stupid. I saw this when I taught college students how to write feature magazine articles. After going through the how-to process, I asked them to take their best shot at writing a 1,000-word article that would...

A Story: From Subway Rage to Genuine Connection

When I was heading downtown yesterday to meet a friend the subway was packed, so I was happy to see an empty seat between a man and a woman. I’m guessing the reason why no one sat there already was because the man was big and so the space looked small. It didn’t help that,...

Closing Down My Charity: Experiences and Lessons

The sad news: Today we closed the bank account for Jai Dee (Good Heart) Children’s Fund—the little education charity Agile-Thanou and I co-founded and ran together since 2006, helping over 400 kids in Laos and India. Over these past five years, we provided school supplies and furniture, organized teacher training and knowledge-sharing events, rebuilt collapsing...

What I Learned at ProductCamp (and why I went)

Sogol stands in front of the room full of conference attendees looking small and nervous. When she pitched her topic question (how to deliver products when your resources are re-allocated to other projects), she didn’t realize she would actually have to facilitate it. But that’s what an open space-style conference (often called an Unconference) is...