Brands need heroes.

But what they do not need.

Is your ego.


Great brands have meaning.

And they are built with precision.

They know the change they want to make.

And they focus on that change with laser like precision.

They have to.

They must.

Because it is what they believe in.


And it is with this in mind.

Particularly with regard to successful brand building and integration.

(Integration is the ‘bringing the brand to life’ bit).

That a careful balance needs to be achieved.

It is the balance of the hero.

And the ego.

The Hero.

Great policies and procedures are important.

And the great brand and great brand consistency that they bring are important.

But individual acts of brand heroism born from the inventiveness and the attentiveness of any organisation’s people are more so.

The Extra Mile.

With all great brands.

Going the extra mile is never extra.

It is the normal thing to do.

It is fluid.

It is responsive.

And this is brand heroism.

The Ego.

But there is no room for ego in exceptional brand integration.

Because when bringing a brand to life, maverick interpretation is the enemy.

Maverick interpretation is not the same as the inventiveness and attentiveness that underpins individual acts of brand heroism.

Because when ego is involved.

The ideas, opinions and actions are not anchored in the brand itself.

Ego creates randomness.

And that dilutes brand.

The Hero and The Ego.

Brands need a framework to guide them.

And a bought-in team to deliver what the brand is promising.

Brands need focus.

Brands need consistency.

Brands need simplicity, meaning and memorability.

Brands need heroes.

But what they do not need.

Is your ego.

I have this other business as I think you know.

Called Always Wear Red.

Always Wear Red has its own e-newsletter now.


It is twice-monthly.

Sent every other Friday at midday.

Is a 60-second read.

And it is your Permission to Pause.

Here’s How It Works.

DOWNTIME encourages you to do between 60 seconds and 60 minutes of – well – nothing.

For 3 Reasons:

  1. Because you are the person you look after least well. And resting (properly) is an immediate way to begin sorting this out.
  2. Because times we do nothing always generate our best notions and ideas.
  3. Because you always do ‘something’ better after a short period of ‘nothing’.

In Summary, the Times You Do Nothing – Can Mean Everything.

And DOWNTIME contains great things to do when you’re doing nothing.


If you get it already.

Please let me know what you think.

And if you don’t get it.

But like the sound of it.

Please sign up here.

Thank you.

If you run a business.

There are two furious battles being fought.

The Business Battle.

And the Brand Battle.

And if you want to win big.

You need to win both.

The Business Battle.

To win the Business Battle you should be simple.

Great quality.

Relevant (now).


All the numbers need to stack up.

You need to be efficient too.

And you need to be doing something that you can do as well as.

(Or ideally better than).

Anyone else in the same space.

Oh; and whatever you are doing should be contributive.

It should also contribute to the greater good.

Because that’s what consumers increasingly expect.


And finally in the Business Battle.

The results of what you do should be crystal clear.



And engaging.

The Brand Battle.

The Brand Battle is quite different to the Business Battle.

And as such it requires an entirely different set of skills and experiences to maximise.

The Brand Battle is something that all businesses have to face.

But the Brand Battle is something that very few businesses know how to win.

Because of a lack of high level brand building knowledge.

And because very few have the commitment to see world class brand building through.


Put simply.

The Brand Battle is how well you connect.

It is looking outward.

Out into the hearts and minds of the consumer.

Then, it is creating better and more compelling perceptions around the business offer.

Perceptions that will really connect and resonate with all those that we want to buy you.

And buy into you.



Today more than ever.

Want to know what is important to you.

Because they want to check that what is important to you.

Is also important to them.

And this is a big part of winning the Brand Battle.

Brand Stories.

Then, once you have a great brand.

They want you to brand storytell brilliantly.

Because the best way to get people to be interested in you.

Is to be interesting.

Two Battles. 

So there you have it.

If you want to win big.

You have two battles to win.

And you’ll likely need two very different teams to win them.

The main reason.

That I don’t get around to doing important things.

Or that important things can sometimes feel unpleasant to do.

Is because of sardines.


Identifying something that is important me.

Then squashing it into my day.

Like a sardine in a tin.

Is daft.

But I do do this.


I think of something that I’d like to get done.

Or something that I need to get done.

Then I very often do one of these two things:

  1. Allocate too little time to doing it properly.
  2. Sandwich it. Like a sardine in a tin. Between two other things. So that there is no time to explore. Or innovate. Or get creative with it. Or polish it.



This is me talking to me now.


If something is important to you.


Make time to do it.


Forget sardines.

Otherwise you’ll just feel resentful that it didn’t get done properly.

Or resentful that it didn’t get done at all.

And frustrated that there is no one to blame.

But yourself.

More Time.

If something is important.

Allocate more time than you think you’ll need.

Not less.

Squashing important things together like sardines is daft.

So stop it.

Rubbernecking is an unfortunate human trait.

It’s morbid curiosity.

It’s investing an inappropriately large amount of your attention.

Looking at.

Or thinking about.

Something or someone that you shouldn’t.

Rubbernecking wastes your time.

And shows you something you really didn’t want to see anyway.

Rubbernecking is a bit daft.

Car Crashes. 

Car crashes spawn rubbernecking.

But there is another kind of rubbernecking that is just as silly.

It’s the rubbernecking I sometimes do in my everyday life.

It’s paying attention to and thinking about those that impact my life negatively.

Paying attention to and thinking about those that might not like something I say.

Paying attention to and thinking about those that might not like something I do.

This kind of rubbernecking is just like that other kind of rubbernecking.

It is investing an inappropriately large amount of my attention.

Looking at.

Or thinking about.

Something or someone that I shouldn’t.

It wastes my time.

And it also shows me things that I really don’t want to see anyway.

This kind of rubbernecking is a bit daft too.

Look ahead. 

So this year.

I’m going to look straight ahead.

Paying attention to and thinking about those in my life that inspire me positively.

Paying attention to and thinking about those that encourage me.

Paying attention to and thinking about those that lift me up.

Because all kinds of rubbernecking.

I think.

Are just a bit daft.

I was wondering.

That thing you do.

That thing you spend most of your time and energy on.

That thing you invest most of your money into.

If you were doing it for an audience of one.

Who would that person be?

An Audience of One. 

In Srinivas Rao’s book, ‘An Audience of One.’

Srinivas explores the idea that we should create solely for ourselves.

For a whole host of reasons.


Here are a few.

Unfair and inappropriate judgements disappear.

Pressure can disappear.

Misunderstandings throughout any creative process can disappear.

And Srinivas also explores the idea that if you have an audience of one.

And that person is you.

You can create far more than you need.

If you want.

You can fail.

If you want.

And learn from that failure.

You can go off piste and be truly off-the-wall creative.

If you want.

Because you can tweak any brief as-you-go.

Or shelve any amount of ideas ideas until you feel like giving them air again.

And if you do create just for you.

You can be fearless.

And maybe never show any ideas to anyone.


Not if you really don’t want to.

So that the feeling of freedom in your creativity.

Is huge.


And endless.


‘Sounds good to me.

And so long as what you are doing makes sense.

To at least some of your intended audience.

(If indeed you have an intended audience).

You’ll be fine.

Joy and Fun.

And you’ll find joy and have fun along the way too.

And joy and fun.

In my opinion.

Are worth much more than critical acclaim or financial gain.

An Interesting Question


Who is your audience of one?

Before you consider anyone else.

I really do hope that your audience of one.

Is you.

My friend.

Is a magician.


He is a magician because he makes me do things for him.

He makes me want to go out of my way to help him.

He makes me want to invest time in him.

Thinking nothing of what I might get back from him.

And he gets all of this from me.

For free.

And I can sense him making it all happen.





But like all magic.

It’s a trick.

And here’s how he does it.

Whenever I see him.

He asks me if he can help me with anything.

And he means it.

He is not asking me this question so that I do anything in return for him, either.

He actually wants to help me.

That’s it.


Such authenticity is rare.

There is no notion of transaction.

Or exchange of any kind.

And it is disarming.

So disarming that.

Like a virus.

His generosity towards me breeds my generosity towards him.

So the harder he tries to help me.

The harder I try to help him.

And so it goes on.

Both of us looking after each other.

Both of us looking out for each other.

Our friendship strengthening as-we-go.

Our businesses strengthening as-we-go.

And a strange glow around any work we do together, too.

Because it is layered with mutual respect.

And admiration.



Breeds kindness.

So wouldn’t it be good if everyone could weave this kind of magic.

From today.


They can.


If you want to build a brand in 2020.

After talking about it for years.

And making excuses for not actually doing it for years.

Or (most likely) not starting to build a proper brand because you just don’t know how to do it.





The sooner you start.

The sooner you’ll have a better year.

The sooner you’ll start to see the profits that all proper brands have the potential to make.

It’ll take you years to build a brand properly.

So commit now.


You make more profit as a proper brand for two reasons.

First, people know why to choose you.

So you’ll sell more.


And second, because the reason to choose you (if indeed you are a proper brand) will be owned by you.

So you have to invest less on marketing.

And if you have to invest less on marketing.

At the same time as your sales going up because people actually (at last!) know why to bloody use you.

You make more profit.


The first step for you to becoming a proper brand.

Is to stop measuring brand communication like sales activity.

Then and only then do you stand a chance of becoming a proper, profitable brand.

Be brand-driven.

Not (just) sales-driven.

Stop looking for immediate payback on every single investment you make in brand.

That’s not the way it works.


In short.


Commit to brand.

I am bored of seeing silly businesses invest too little time.

Too little money.

Too little talent.

And too little effort in brand building.

Giving up after 3 months when they don’t get the results they want.

The results they were never, ever going to get after just 3 months.

You might do that with the gym you join each January.

But don’t do it with brand building.

Because not committing to brand properly may cost you a lot more than the same old wobbly tummy.

It will eventually cost you your ability to compete.


Call me if you want me to help you.

The number is at

Email me at

Or at the very least download my digital book A.BRAND.

For free.

By joining the A.NEWSLETTER mailing list at

Happy 2020.


With almost anything I do.

I think that it.

And I.

Are not good enough.


This is strange.

Because it’s rarely what I am doing that’s the problem.

The real problem.

Is what I am thinking.

And whether those thoughts are confident.

Or unconfident.


I’ve read lots about confidence.

Where it comes from.

Where it goes to.

Its illusiveness and its power.

I find the subject of confidence fascinating.

Liam Gallagher. 

I was talking to a friend about confidence recently.

And we chatted about Liam Gallagher.

The archetypal, confident, swaggering manc.

The type that really doesn’t give a shit about anyone or anything.


Of course.

He does.

Commercial Success.

Liam cares a lot what people think.

So much so that he only felt that he was on his way back.

After Oasis and Beady Eye.

When his first album had commercial success.

Did Liam Not Know?

‘As You Were’ is a pretty good album.

Did Liam not know that, though?

Why did he need consumers to tell him that it was good enough?


Opinions are important.

Of course they are.

But in most cases it really does pay to care less about what others think.

Not because you are rude.

Or arrogant.

But because everything that anyone else thinks is always loaded with.




That something could be jealousy.

Their mood.

Their intellect.

Or a simple misunderstanding of what you are saying or doing.

Or why you are saying or doing it.

Good Enough. 

You decide what’s good enough.

Set your own goals.

And your own vision.

Don’t listen to them.

But do aim high, I’d suggest.

Aim to change the world.


And when people laugh at you for having the temerity to aim higher than anyone else ever.

Don’t listen to that, either.

I wonder if you can help me?

I am looking for a business where excellence is expected.

And delivered.

By every single person in the business.

At every single second that the business is delivering experience.

And at every single business touchpoint.

You see, I am asking because.

I can’t find any business like this.


Is it you?

You might think it’s you.

But it probably isn’t.

It probably isn’t because of how hard it is.

And because it requires always-on attention to this important subject of ‘Excellence Expected (and Delivered)’.

In a plan/do/review kind of way.

It requires you to actually do something brilliant and cyclical.

Excellence Expected. 

The reason I am suggesting that it is unlikely to be your business that expects and delivers excellence.

Via every single person in the business.

Every single second that the business is delivering experience.

And at every single business touchpoint.

Is because every business I experience.

Doesn’t have a team where every single person wants to be excellent.

Every single second.

In everything single thing that they do.

They might say that they do.

And the leaders of the organisations might say that they do.

But they don’t.

Not really they don’t.


There is something you can do about it though.

There is action you can take.

To improve.

To get closer.

You can sit down with everyone.


(And I do mean everyone. 

And I do mean weekly).

And ask this.

  1. Is excellence expected by every single person in this business?
  2. At every single second that our business is delivering experience?
  3. And at every single business touchpoint?
  4. And does every single person in this room actually deliver excellence?
  5. At every single second that the business is delivering experience?
  6. And at every single business touchpoint?

Then discuss it.

Look people in the eye.

Ask for examples.

And when you find the people that don’t deliver excellence.

And when you unearth the times that you don’t deliver excellence.

And when you unearth the ways that you don’t deliver excellence.

(And you will find all of these things).

You will see that I am right.

A Final Point.

You can’t go to numbers 3, 4 and 5 above.

Without addressing 1, 2 and 3 first.

Because 1, 2 and 3 address whether your business actually wants to deliver excellence.

And if you don’t get 1, 2 and 3 right first.

Then you will never get 4, 5 and 6 right.


And that’s why I get sad about business in general, really.

Not because any particular business is not excellent.

I can, on some occasions and under certain circumstances, accept that.

I get sad because business doesn’t actually want to be excellent.

And that I can never, ever accept.