Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

  • Blog
  • July 23rd, 2014

What’s a Brand Story? Why does it matter?

Story is all around us…

Since the cavemen shared stories around the campfire to reading the news on our cell screens, story has been at the heart of every transaction. It defines who we are, and it’s the way we connect with each other. It can be absolutely profoundly powerful – and transporting – because it takes us to another place. Remember when you last pleaded, in that little voice, ‘tell me another story, please?”

Your brand story can transform the way people feel about you…

Telling your personal brand story in the most fascinating way is going to make your brand stand out in this marketplace. What’s more, it’ll captivate and transform your world, your audience…

Just take a look at what’s happening across the social media platforms. What exactly are 1 billion people doing on Facebook? Well, mostly they’re sharing their stories in words and pictures. They’re craving that emotional and powerful hit that comes through telling a story. It’s the ultimate form of creative expression which is an innate desire, and characteristic of humans, by the way. So if you’re haven’t been crafting your own killer personal brand story, now is a good time to start.

Technology is making sharing stories more fun and more frictionless. Social innovator Rachel Botsman and co-author of the influential book What’s Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption, talked at TEDx SYDNEY about the new ‘trust mechanics’ online, and explored how technology is actually enabling trust between strangers in the new peer-to-peer social revolution. (You can hear her talk at TEDx Sydney, Australia May 2101: A Case for Collaborative Consumption

So how do you start shaping your brand story so it has a distinctive and emotional resonance, shows you to be a real and trustworthy human being, and hits home with your audience? Here’s the secret:  You start digging deep:

Try this exercise: Identify the defining moments in your life..

Look at the trajectory of your life and/or career and identify which are the defining moments for you. Why do they stand out? What happened exactly, and why are they so significant to you? Let your memory take you right back there and probe a little more. The idea here is to pick one of your defining moments and then weave it right into the fabric of your brand story.

One of my favorite brand stories

This is an example of a brilliant brand story:  Jeff Nussbaum is a partner at one of the country’s most prominent strategic speechwriting firms, West Wing Writers, based in Washington, D.C.  If you go to the About page on their site and click on Jeff Nussbaum, you’ll see how Jeff has shaped his story by capturing one defining (and supposedly, traumatic) moment in his life:

Jeff Nussbaum | Partner

The first speech Jeff Nussbaum wrote was to defend himself against suspension from high school. It was unsuccessful. Since that time, Jeff has written speeches, op-eds, and promotional materials for heads of state, corporate executives, foundations, professional athletes, actors, and trade associations.

Get the idea? I can only assume Jeff’s defining moment was quite a dramatic experience. But see how he has turned it around, and crafted a highly idiosyncratic, captivating and moving personal story? What’s more, he shows he’s vulnerable. He shows he’s got a quirky sense of humor. What could be better than that?! If I was looking to hire a specialist in this area, and I had to choose between him and four other recommended experts, I’d choose Jeff, for sure. Because his story resonates with me — and hits home.

FYI: Storytelling is critical to your personal brand and business for a couple of reasons:

  • An authentic personal brand story makes you totally memorable (in the best way possible)
  • It differentiates you as desirable (what more could you ask for?)
  • It brings your brand to life (nothing worse than a bland brand so this is very good news)
  • It gives you a distinct competitive advantage (FYI not many people out there can tell a good brand story, promise.)
  • Your audience becomes hugely responsive (absolutely)
  • It lands an unforgettable spot in the psyche of your audience (what more can I say?)

Warning: Our brains are constantly on alert, scanning the horizon for insincere messages. Make sure you write your story with absolute sincerity. Consumers out there are savvy. They can smell a fake story a mile away. Be exactly who you say you are. Then, watch heads turn!

So have you identified one of your most remarkable defining moments yet? Start weaving it throughout your brand story and see what happens. Let me know!

This article was first published in Dan Schwabel’s in 2011.

  • Blog
  • March 20th, 2014

Named one of The 20 Best Blogs for Building your Brand Online

Hats off to editor Jessica Merritt and her team at Reputation Management! Big thanks :: because the blog just landed a spot on The 20 Best Blogs for Building your Brand Online! Kudos Jessica and to all the other fabulous branding specialists on this list…

After all, there’s nothing quite like having a powerful presence online and the best way to start? Ask yourself:

1) Do you dare create more intuitively branded experiences, meaningful interactions – online & offline?

2) Dare to craft more congruent messaging that is going to define and shape your organizations & people?

3) Is your intention to bring more meaning and purpose to the business table? If not. why not?

4) Is your focus on raising the pulse of your brand?  (Whether you’re launching a business, product, startup or orchestrating a turnaround.)

5) How passionate are you when it comes to creating a more emboldened brand presence online?

Serious questions, for sure. Go check out Jessica’s resources ASAP for branding online — and make something happen. Kudos, Jessica – thanks again!

March 14, 2014 | Jessica Merritt Online Reputation Management |

Great Resources for Developing Online Reputation Management with Branding: A strong online brand is essential to online reputation management. It’s what people see when they search for you, and it’s the persona that you present online. Your brand, and how you develop and promote it, can make or break your online reputation. That’s why it’s important to get branding advice from the experts.

These blogs offer the best insight, tips, and resources for making the most of your brand online. They share their knowledge on design, marketing, SEO, and effective brand development. Check out our can’t-miss collection of blogs for building your online brand. 


brand innovators branding blog screen shot best blogs for building your online brand
1. Brand Innovators: Discover how digital media and the Internet are changing the game for brands on the Brand Innovators blog. Brandon explains how evolving media makes it possible to connect with consumers on a new level, while developing positive brand marketing online.

Popular posts: Pushing Customer Loyalty to Fever PitchLeverage Your Relationship DataContent Marketing: The Future is Now.
brand yourself online branding blog screen shot best blogs for building your online brand
2. BrandYourself: The Brand Yourself blog is an authority in personal branding for career, social media, and online reputation. Read the blog to learn about online branding strategies, tech tools, and success stories in online branding.

Popular posts: 5 Google Results That Can Ruin Your CareerImprove Your Chances of Getting a Job with Your Google ResultsHow to Attract the Attention of a Headhunter

personal branding 101 blog screen shot best blogs for building your online brand

3. Personal Branding 101: With Personal Branding 101, you can discover how to be you and share you with your own personal brand online. The blog offers resources for personal branding for job search, overcoming fear, and more.

Popular posts: 15 Personal Branding Tasks You Can Do Every Day5 Personal Branding Errors You Can Fix in 5 MinutesPersonal Branding (In 4 Words or Less)

braizen branding and design blog screen shot best blogs for building your online brand
4. Braizen: Braizen blogs about branding and design for small business. Find inspiration in their branding projects, learn about brand development, and get design ideas on the Braizen blog.

Popular posts: The Power of QuietIt’s Getting PersonalA Rose by Any Other Namezing your brand online branding expert blog best blogs for building your online brand

5. Zing Your Brand: Add some zing to your brand with the Zing Your Brand online branding blog. You’ll find out what highly-functioning brands have in common, how you can create an irresistible brand, and why some brands fail.

Popular posts: 8 Reasons Why Word-of-Mouth Should be on Everyone’s LipsInfographic:: ZingYourBrand in 4 Simple StepsCheck Out These Masters of Zing
brand story branding blog screen shot best blogs for building your online brand

6. Brand Story: Every great brand has a story behind it, and this blog explains how you can develop and effectively deliver your brand’s story online. Find inspirational brands, storytelling resources, and learn how to use online tools for your own brand story.

Popular posts: Thinking About Brand VoiceWriting Your Brand StoryMaking Promises, Meeting Expectations
brands with fans social marketing blog screen shot best blogs for building your online brand

7. Brands With Fans: Get tuned in to social marketing with this branding blog for businesses and professionals. You’ll learn about content marketing, using social media as a brand, and more.

Popular posts: How to Optimize RSS to Display Featured Blog ImagesHow Sprout Social Helps Brands Spread The Love5 Content Management Plugins for WordPress
branding strategy insider blog best blogs for building your online brand

8. Branding Strategy Insider: Learn how to develop a strong brand that builds and sustains trust on the Branding Strategy Insider blog.

Popular posts: Brand Management: Process and ResponsibilitiesThe Deeper Role of Marketing10 Brand Keys for Persuasion and Change.

personal branding blog screen shot best blogs for building your online brand

9. Personal Branding Blog: This branding blog encourages readers to build a powerful personal brand that stands out in the global marketplace. Personal branding resources include skill development, networking, entrepreneurship, and workplace success tips.

Popular posts: Seven Reasons Your Resume is Hurting Your CareerGoogle Plus as an Effective Branding ToolWhy Hiring an Assistant Could Save Your Personal Brand.

the engaging brand blog screen shot best blogs for building your online brand

10. The Engaging Brand: Anna at The Engaging Brand encourages readers to think differently about social business. Hot topics include social media, talent management, customer service, and communication.

Popular postsWhat Everyone Needs to Know About Social Marketing10 Ideas for Creating Compelling ContentWhy Are Some Brands Irresistible?
better business brand blog screen shot best blogs for building your online brand

11. Better Business Brand: Develop a meaningful business brand with the Better Business Brand blog. This blog offers excellent brand insights, resources, and cutting edge ideas for building your brand.

Popular posts: Lead, Follow, or Get the Hell Out of the WayBranding Your Business: 5 Steps to SuccessWhat’s the Chance a Startup Business Will Fail? [Infographic]
promote yourself blog with dan schawbel screen shot best blogs for building your online brand

12. Promote Yourself: Career and workplace expert Dan Schawbel is a strong supporter of personal branding. On Promote Yourself, Schawbel shares tips and resources for personal branding for career success.

Popular posts: Success is Determined by Your Ability to Sell YourselfEnd the 9 to 5 Workday Once and For AllTop 5 Job Search Tips for Millennials
small business branding blog screen shot best blogs for building your online brand

13. Small Business Branding: Offering branding advice with small businesses in mind, this blog has great ideas for press releases, online exposure, brand strategy, and more.

Popular posts: 5 Easy Steps to a Better BrandWhat’s Your ROI With Branding?How to Use Public Speaking as a Lead Generator.

grits and grids restraurant branding blog screen shot best blogs for building your online brand

14. Grits + Grids: This blog is ideal for restaurants developing their online brand, but the advice offered by Grits + Grids often applies to all types of small businesses. Follow restaurant branding trends, advertising, and other restaurant branding resources on the Grits + Grids blog.

Popular posts: 10 Common Brand Archetypes for the Restaurant IndustryUrban Rustic May Shift Towards Nordic ChicDisconnecting the Tech, to Connect to People: Guinness’s New Ad is Anti-Tech

KISSmetrics analytics and marketing blog screen shot best blogs for building your online brand

15. KISSmetrics: KISSmetrics offers insight into online analytics, marketing, and testing. The blog also shares a wealth of branding knowledge, including how businesses can develop brand advocates, conduct brand audits, and how individuals can dominate SEO for personal branding. This is a can’t miss blog for learning how to use the Internet for brand power.

Popular posts: The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Positive Brand Image for Online Reputation Management10 Branding Lessons That Every Business Graduate Should Know (But Doesn’t)6 Mind-Blowing Customer Service Mistakes Made by Well-Known Brands
brand driven digital branding blog screen shot best blogs for building your online brand

16. Brand Driven Digital: Learn about branding in social media and online marketing with Brand Driven Digital. The blog highlights case studies in successful online branding and marketing, social brands, and more.

Popular posts: How to Curate Content You Find from Your IndustryHow to Fix Your Next Facebook ContestFast Food Chains Succeed on Social Media with Unconventionality
branding personality blog screen shot best blogs for building your online brand

17. Branding Personality: Study social media content and online leads with the Branding Personality blog. Branding Personality shares the latest tools for online branding, online marketing strategies, and personal brand assessment.

Popular posts: Are Free Giveaways a Sound Strategy for Your Brand?Pinterest Etiquette: 5 Things Brands Should Never DoHow to Amplify Your Brand’s Reach Online
kim garst branding blog screen shot best blogs for building your online brand

18. Kim Garst: Check out Kim’s blog for social media and corporate branding strategy. She has great ideas for brand marketing online, content that gets shared, and strategies for making the most of your social media marketing. Popular posts: How to Improve Your Klout Score and Why You Should Care5 Confidence Tips to Put Some Zip in Your Social MediaOops! How Mistakes Can Propel Your Business Forward
career rocketeer personal branding blog screen shot best blogs for building your online brand

19. Career Rocketeer: Watch your career take flight with this personal branding blog. Career Rocketeer explains everything you need to know about personal branding for job search, social media, networking, career management, and more.

Popular posts: Is Your LinkedIn Profile Holing You Back?Pictures Matter in Your Job SearchHow to Manage Your Personal Brand

the personal branding blog screen shot best blogs for building your online brand

20. The Personal Branding Blog: Personal branding expert William Arruda’s blog shares insight into the power of using personal branding to achieve your goals. Discover what makes you unique, relevant, and compelling on The Personal Branding Blog.

– See more at:


  • Blog
  • February 15th, 2014

What every Highly-Functioning Brand Adores: 4 Clues

In full disclosure: I’m currently working in Sydney, and there’s not a day that goes by that at least one person (usually an Australian!) will ask me a question about Zing Your Brand – the concept, what it means, why I’ve been using the Zing thing, what it actually brings to the table …and how American it sounds…

I can understand that! I share with them that the first time I ever used the name ZING was in Australia when my branding/design agency created the strategic thinking & branding program for the Annual Report 2000 for the Sydney Opera House (one of the most thrilling projects I’ve ever worked on). The tagline for the Report was: Making the House Zing. (The Sydney Opera House is often called The House here – and Zing was a play around its huge energy, vitality, singing, the lot.)

But I digress from the topic!

In the last year, I’ve  made several shifts. 1) I am specializing in the Brand Intelligence space, and when I get asked what that means, I share this infographic that offers the clues around the process: It’s a methodology I created in NYC and it’s an exhilarating process for curious people who are keen, willing and poised to make sure their business brand has a congruent message and communicates 24/7: Yes, we are who we say we are…

This is how it all works: 4 simple steps –

1.) Brand Audit :: Every healthy and highly-functioning brand requires an Audit.

Just like you need a checkup from time to time, ditto your brand. This is where I go in and pull back the layers. Probe around. Find out what’s really going on, where it hurts and what’s getting in the way of your biz success.

Believe it or not, there are always invisible clues staring in your face. You never see them. But I do:: And that’s where it gets interesting. Let’s face it, the last thing you want to be doing? Shoot yourself in the foot when it comes to your brand and business.

FYI So I interpret all the clues that are doing your business a disservice. Then I bring  a more compelling & irresistible messaging to your brand that will knock the socks of your tribe/audience. It’s a total turnaround in thinking. The Brand Audit will give you a new lens through which to perceive your brand. FYI This process is really about bringing more meaning and purpose to the biz table. So we assess, evaluate and tweak the kind of messaging you are sending out to the world, 24/7.

2.) Brand Story :: Every healthy brand craves a clearly articulated &  irresistible story.
This is where we start to look at what WHY you do what you do.

The answer to WHY you do what you do is hugely critical. So think about your why – and why it matters, and why anyone should give a damn. Seriously. Because this thinking will give you all the clues you need to craft a meaningful story about you, your biz and your brand. FYI We do one very special exercise that is designed to coax out your creative essence and get right to the heart of your brand.

Some people find this challenging. But most walk away gasping. True.

3.) Brand Identity : Every healthy brand longs for a fascinating identity.
Nothing more compelling than an identity that tells the world who you are, what you stand for –– and more importantly, that you ARE who you say you ARE. It’s not as straight forward as you think. This is about showing up like you mean it.

Being willing to get out of your comfort zone. Actually opening up just a little so others can get to see you, know you, like you — and trust you.

FYI We have another interactive exercise that always gets the juices going. It allows you to get out of your own way and be truly honest with yourself.

4.) Brand Transformation:: Every healthy brand adores a bit of transformation and fine-tuning along the way. 
Your brand is not static. It’s not just your logo. Or your tagline. Or the color of the uniforms your staff wear. Or the color palette on your website. Hell, no. Your brand is a living, breathing organism and the sooner you embrace that idea, the better.

In fact, it doesn’t matter whether you are a corporate CEO or a small biz owner wearing bunny slippers in the back bedroom, your brand needs to be totally embedded with your energy.

This Step 4º addresses why WHAT you do matters. Why your audience/tribe should care about buying from you or signing up with you or visiting your site (online or off.) This is about paying attention to bringing as much energy and consciousness to your brand so it feels alive, engaging — and totally authentic.

If you have any questions about this infographic and keen to hear more, you bet – get in touch and we can continue the dialog:: Or say hello on

Looking forward and sending a big wave your way –– wherever you are. And please, join in the conversation below — let me know what how highly-functional your brand is and your best-kept secrets, okay!?




  • Blog
  • December 9th, 2013

The art of creating an irresistible Brand. (10 Clues.)

1. We live in a Global Village More than ever before, it’s time now to peer over – and beyond – your own backyard. Your website might put your brand on the global map, and believe it or not, people are watching 24/7. But creating an irresistible brand means you’re going to have to speak directly to the big wide world out there — in your voice, in your language so people can hear you –– and sense that you ‘are who you say you are.’ So what’s the tone and language around your brand?

2. Storytelling is the Currency of our Time Tell your Brand Story to your audience in a new, provocative way. Connect the dots and defining moments in your life, your business, and what led you to the very spot you are standing in, right now. It has to connect emotionally with your target market. Story resonates deeply with people. So don’t keep them at arm’s length. They’re longing to connect.

3. Curiosity and Willingness There’s nothing quite like the desire to go to new places – and see the future of your business. It helps if you are a nimble and agile thinker as it keeps you alert to new opportunities as they fall in front of you – and the inclination to act on them. So your clients can sense and pick up on this desire.  Are you paying willing and curious because complacency is a killer.

 4. Peripheral Vision The ability to see outside the lines of sight is critical in your business. It helps to shift your perspective, see the other person’s point of view. It often brings compassion, a heightened sensitivity and the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. This kind of empathy and understanding goes a long way in building trust and meaningful relationships in your business. Are you understanding what other people’s issues are and how you can make a difference? Can they see that twinkle in your eye? 

5. Desire to Big, Bold and Provocative In this over-saturated marketplace, one of the best ways to soar above your competition is by creating your own signature brand that will make you stand out. OK Focus on what makes you truly different. Then translate that over into your business. So how brave and fearless are you when it comes to showing up bigger and bolder? This is not the time to be small. PS If you can brand with heart, and with intention, you’re going to be miles ahead of your competition.

6.  Take on the Role of Brand Guardian You are the Guardian of your brand. It’s a role to be taken seriously. You’d be amazed at the number of business owners who are not paying attention to their brand. Brands like to be nurtured need your attention 24/7. You brand is never done, so to speak. It needs to be change, grow and evolve just like everything else in your business. So what kind of Brand Guardian are you? Because if you nurture your brand, your customers will tell, and feel the difference. Guaranteed.

7. Master of Serious Play Believe it or not, brands have a tendency to want to play, live out loud and have a bit of fun along the way! It’s the one characteristic that is hugely attractive to clients, and it will certainly keep them paying attention! Of course, it’s about keeping a fine balance between being professional and playful so make sure you can walk that tightrope with grace! So if you’re not having fun with your brand, go out and start addressing this issue immediately. It will pay off, I promise.

8. Knock the Socks off your Clients (and your Competition) There is something very valuable about delivering what you say you will. It doesn’t happen every day, by the way. On the other hand, if you over deliver and add value, your clients will see the difference, and be asking for more. So how are you knocking the socks off your customers? Because your competitors will be picking up on it too and hearing about it too!

9. We live in a Design-Driven Culture You better get used to the fact that design is here to stay. If you’re not paying attention to the value of the design aesthetic in your business, you’re going to be hurting the bottom line. So how much attention are you giving to being the visual storyteller and  visual thinker in your business? Look around. See what appeals to you visually and then bring some of that magic back into your business. (Sooner than later, please!)

10. The Buzz around Brands. All good brands love a lot of attention. They weren’t created to in the dark, be apologetic or be on the back foot. There’s something totally irresistible about being truly authentic and credible. Use language that is engaging, current – putting your brand out there– big time. So try getting out of your comfort. Expand your boundaries. Dare a little. You will find it’s worth it.

OK Your turn! I’d love to hear your best-kept secrets about the ideas you’re putting into action to creating the most irresistible brand out there!

@2013 Mary van de Wiel |








  • Blog
  • December 5th, 2013

Why some brands nail it and other fail. –

Posted on December 6, 2013 by Guest Author Mary van de Wiel in Management, Marketing, Opinion, Social Media

Today, it’s just not enough to be brilliant. People must know and remember that you are.

For start-ups, that means a focus on creating a compelling brand right from the beginning. Your brand is one of your most valuable assets. Get it right, and it will position you and your business long term as irresistible, powerful and engaging.

Today’s most successful brands are more conscious than ever about how they communicate with their audiences. If you carefully craft your brand’s voice, tone and behaviour, you’ll have a much better chance of capturing your audience in a world with a low-attention span.

1º Set the right tone for your brand:

Your brand will have an ongoing two-way conversation with your world 24/7. It will engage your audience, and interact with them across multiple platforms.

Your tone is almost as important as your content. Your brand has its own voice, and it’s your job to set the tone in all the language around your business.

Notice how you are talking to your audience whether it’s in-person or written communications. If you speak with clarity and sincere intention, it’s going to hit home – allowing your audience to hear you, understand what you’re doing, and then, want to climb on-board.

Be consistent about communicating you are who you say you are. If your brand’s voice is authentic and aligned with your values –i.e. what you stand for – you will come across as trustworthy and genuine.

If you come across as withholding or secretive, people will run away.

2º Mind your brand’s behaviour:

Brands are like puppies (seriously.) They need a lot of attention and a firm hand.

Think about how you’d like your brand to be perceived by your audience. Communicate that to your team, make sure everyone is on the same page so there’s the promise to do whatever it takes to deliver exactly what you’re promising. Under delivering is not a smart business strategy.

Every brand has an attitude. This will either work in your favour or not. Be aware that the world is going to have a particular set of feelings around you, your brand and your business.

Double check that your business brand’s attitude is welcoming and engaging from the start. Your business will land a high score when it comes to empathy if people feel your brand cares about creating strong emotional connections with them 24/7.

Keeping people at arm’s length is not an option. At least not in the new brand landscape!

3º Inspire others. Share your purpose:

When you tell people what you do and how you do it, it’s interesting – but it’s not always that inspiring or helpful. However when you talk about why you do what you do, a different dynamic starts to happen.

You’ll notice people lean in, listen closer and an emotional connection start to kick in. People are craving to hear your ‘why’. What’s more, it takes courage to live your ‘why’– it’s your purpose, after all, says Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why.

Look at making your ‘why’ part of your brand story, dialog and communication in all things, online and offline.

In full disclosure, it’s going to take a little more effort than just talking about the nuts and bolts of your business. This is about looking at why you’re starting the business in the first place. What are the defining moments that led you to this very point in time? Why are they meaningful to you? And, just as importantly, why should anyone else care?

Working out Your Why is a highly charged process and hugely rewarding. It’s one of the most powerful exercises you can do.

OK. Is your brand nailing it? What’s the current prognosis of your business brand? Share your story of how you’re shaping the voice, tone and language around your brand. Your brand is an act of social engagement with your world. Be mindful of your brand behaviour.

About the author
Mary van de Wiel (alias: Van) is best known for her global expertise when it comes to coaxing out the real emotional power in brands to dramatically spike the bottom line. Van is founder and brand psychologist of When she’s not hosting her weekly radio show, running her signature Brand Audits, speaking or taking the NY Brand Lab on the road around the US, Mexico or Australia, you can find her putting the finishing touches on It’s Not Enough to Be Brilliant: 10 Dares of Branding. Follow her on Twitter @maryvandewiel.

  • Blog
  • November 6th, 2013

On the courage & desire to truly see yourself: Deep bow, Nilofer Merchant

In full disclosure: I am unabashedly a fan of the remarkable Nilofer Merchant.

She’s been dubbed the Jane Bond of Innovation and she’s a hugely inspiring, powerful and exquisite speaker, writer, thought leader – and so much more…

I’d love you take a look at this video: She’s speaking at the Platform Summit 2013 and shares her personal story (she calls it awkward). It’s certainly a poignant story and I only wish I could be this transparent the next time I get on stage. Why? Because her bottom line is really all about having the courage, willingness and desire tosee yourself first. Truly, deeply. And then allow yourself to be seen.

Here:: go watch asap and let me know what you think:

PS The following is from her blog: read it and then go find out what Quincy Jones told her after she made this presentation!

NOVEMBER 4, 2013


Now I share this talk and the personally-awkward story within it because I think it points to a real truth about where new ideas come from.

The Answer is You. Only You. But, more to the point, The Seen You.

It was filmed at Platform. A wealth of talent (including funny man Baratunde Thurston, Gov Dev Patrick, Artist Quincy Jones, Tech Exec Mitch Kapor, Dr. John Wilson of Morehouse College, and Lady Gaga’s manager, Troy Carter, amongst others.) came together to answer the question “what is the one thing that you would have people do differently to get everyone aboard the innovation economy. My answer: to see, and be seen.

After I gave this (you’ll see…) surprisingly emotional talk, on being seen, Quincy Jones came over and said, “you know what I see in you…”. Human act of generosity.


Van de Wiel:: okay, now you have to go to her site and see what Quincy Jones told her:)

  • Blog
  • October 31st, 2013

8 Reasons Why Word-of-Mouth Should be on Everyone’s Lips.

Geno Church makes for a potent mix: a highly-acclaimed author with an eclectic personality, a Southern drawl and a brilliant shock of hair, his reputation precedes him particularly when it comes to the World of Word of Mouth.

I was thrilled to meet Geno last week at The Influence Group’s new Influence Session at MOCA, Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, Australia. He’s recently released a new book on the topic, Brains on Fire: Igniting Powerful Sustainable, Word of Mouth Movements and he shared his stories, research and best-kept secrets about the joy and the power of passion. (Plus, how honored he is to connect people with each other through shared passion.)

Dubbed the WOM Inspiration Officer of Brains on Fire, a South-Carolina-based agency best known for their own highly-individual spark in helping organizations ignite powerful, sustainable word of mouth marketing, here are some of his insights for marketers today:

1. We’re living in a new world of marketing.
There’s a paradigm shift happening right now. There’s a new 21st Century brand landscape and it’s not just about technology. It’s about people. We have to put people first and create real relationships with people.
PS: Marketers don’t get to decide on what gets talked about today. People do.

2. There’s a problem with today’s technology. Passionate conversation is missing.
It’s no longer about making a transaction. It’s more about creating a more meaningful exchange with feeling. We have to know our why. Why we do what we do and why it matters. Not the what or the how. It’s part of the passion conversation. What’s more, your brand is a lens through which people get to see what you stand for. Make sure there’s something people can believe in when they come looking…

3. Too many businesses are too fixated on mimicking.
It’s not about doing what other companies are doing. You don’t need to post on Facebook every second. Pin on Pinterest. Or Tweet on the hour. WOM marketing is not about social media. It’s about any business action that earns a recommendation from customers. In full disclosure: A relationship has to exist before that happens.

In other words:
No passion? No conversation.
No conversation? No word of mouth.
No word of mouth? No successful business.

4. The best WOM marketing is really how a company does business every day.
Marketers have a love language problem. They get too caught up with obsessing about ROI and not enough about motivating or inspiring people. The passion conversation is not something you own: it’s something you pass along and pass forward.

5. There are three kinds of motivations that spark conversations about brands and organizations:
Functional. People engage in functional conversations about brands to get information needed to make decisions and to better interpret the world around them.
Social. People engage in social conversations about brands to impress others, to express uniqueness and to increase their reputation.
Emotional. Brands that invoke strong emotional feelings are more likely to be talked about. Make sure your brand is evoking a strong emotional trigger. It hits home the most.

6. Research shows that brands are talked about in two types of conversation channels:
Online. The more public platform (also, voyeuristic) where people feel they have to show how brilliant, unique and special they are. This is called a ‘discontinous conversation’ because you can actually decide when to respond, and you have the time to determine how you want to respond (depending on how good you want to look.) This is about making a social connection. Not an emotional one.
Offline. The more personal space, where you have more instantaneous, face-to-face conversations. This is called ‘continuous conversation’ because it is naturally more emotional, more spontaneous, authentic and real.

7. Emotions tend to trigger passions.
Take Rob Morris, for example. His organization, Justice for Children International needed to change its name – and its mission was to end child sex slavery and trafficking around the world. After working together, the name was changed to Love146. It was based on a heart-felt story about a 12-year old girl who was in a Philippines brothel. Her number, 146, was pinned to her dress. Rob noticed that there was still fight in her eyes! Long story… but now has thousands of people around the world making a difference to help end child sex slavery.

8. Advertising only prompts 22% of all conversations people have about brands, products and services (Source: Keller Fay).
So marketers have a job to do in the new economy: Find ways to share ideas and information with people that will inspire them. They need to be the advocates and the living messenger. Therefore, focus on making a difference but not from the doom-gloom perspective. This is about finding solutions for people to believe in.

An example of a favorite brand of the millennials? Warby Parker. They are a hugely successful startup in the eyeglass business. No stores. Just buy a pair of vintage-inspired prescription eyeglasses online starting at $95. And for every pair they sell, they give one pair away. This is the kind of cause millennials care about. Warby Parker have a purpose, a passion for what they do and so millennials have become their best brand advocates.

Before Church had to dash to the next workshop, I asked him what he’d dare us to do to get out of our comfort zone: “Make sure you know what your customers really think. Try walking in their shoes. Guess what? We think we know what they value and care about… but we don’t really know. Go find out.”

This was first published online October 29, 2013

  • Blog
  • September 21st, 2013

What’s going on behind-the-scenes with your brand? (Any idea?)

Every brand has issues. If they’re serious enough, they’re just going to shoot you in the foot and get in the way of your business success!

What’s more, if you’re not out there having a blast with your brand, that’s also a serious matter.

What’s that all about, I wonder. Seriously?!

wow_factorOK. I’m giving you my top brand pick of the week that’s clearly having a blast. (Absolutely.) Why they’re nailing it online and my reasons why.

Here’s my take: I tend to pick up on the (invisible) clues from a site that inform me about the thinking (i.e. brain & heart intelligence) and what’s really going. Those clues, for me, are hugely pleasing. Satisfying, too.

Why? The clues always reveal a highly-individualistic energy embedded in the site that allure and intrigue, and you can’t help but notice it. You sense there’s a lot going on behind the scenes – fun, creativity, innovative thinking plus +. But there’s something else that keeps me going back for more: It’s the tone of  the dialog/language. Mix that up with compelling images and design and you get a powerful dose of brilliance. Take  a look:

1) It’s the vibe:-

The vibe – or the energy and emotional resonance of your brand online – tells your story loud and clear. The more vital the energy, the more potent the feeling – and the more you’ll find yourself literally leaning in closer (yes, closer to your screen) because you’re craving to know more…

My week’s top pick is COMMON.IS. Great vibe. They’re on a quest. Its Twitter message says,  It’s a community for accelerating social innovation. We’re working to build international excitement, conversation and action around entrepreneurialism.

Co-founder Alex Bogusky was the  fearless boy-king of advertising. As a key figure in the superstar ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky, he helped catapult companies like Burger Kind into billion-dollar profits. A couple of years ago, he retired from the ad world (gasp/shock/gasp) and moved to Colorado where he installed himself in his Boulder-based FearLess Cottage and launched COMMON, a community-focused incubator that he believes just may change the way the world does business.

Check out this site and the message on the home page? DO SHIT THAT MATTERS.

P.S. I’m inviting Alex or one his co-founders to join NY Brand Lab Radio in October and so you’d think I’d wait to include the link to the interview as well as his thoughts, insights, right?  No way:: I’m too impatient. Just want you get a sense of their remarkable vibe sooner than later. Keep your eye out for an alert re the radio interview.

OK. Here goes. A couple of clues that inform me COMMON is having a blast and nailing it online, in the best way possible.

  1. There is a real economy on this site: Three links. Imagine that, only three links. 1.) One x DO 2.) One x SHIT  3.) One x THAT MATTERS. Yes, there’s a small CONTACT link. But then, watch how your eye darts around  as you scroll down. Sure, other links pop up but not in the usual context/format. (Important clue.) Much easier to take it all in…
  2. You want to read the copy not once but twice. (And then again.) My sense is: they’re talking JUST the way they speak. They’re not using jargon or words you might expect. No way. They’re talking in eclectic short sentences as if they’re so breathless from the sheer excitement of ALL that they’re dipping into. You get their drift. Or you don’t. I feel as though they’re talking to ME! I can’t ignore their tone or attitude because it’s real. Most of the time, I’m smiling (i.e. a huge/broad grin across my face) at what they’re saying. Because I totally get it. They dare to break the rules.
  3. Look at the power of white space. Then check out the tabs, boxes of color, images, text. Be aware of how your eye darts down the page.. what it absorbs, what it’s drawn to and what your eye skips over. Keep scrolling and you’ll see this:


Changing the world has to be fun,

otherwise no one will do it.” –

 What’s the vibe you get riffing through the COMMON site? Are you inspired, keen to find out more, join the tribe!?


Q: Is your brand and message inspiring others Y/N? FYI You certainly don’t want to fall into the trap of Dead Brand Walking!

OK. How can your brand start to reframe your message so you DO inspire others? You can start with identifying your own unique energy & vibe and tap into the emotional core of what you’re doing. And why you’re doing it. (That’s the magical piece.) Spread the word. Then, watch what happens. (Sounds easy, right?!)

How relaxed are you about your language online? Does it sound like you or someone else?  

If you speak in your own real voice, it’s much easier for others to 1) get a sense of who you are so 2) start a dialog with you 3) suggest doing business 4) hire you and/or collaborate big time 5) go out and play. That’s the real power behind allowing others to hear you and sense who you are…

So: Talk with conviction and with a twinkle in your eye. Speak in your voice. Share your intention, desire and willingness to do whatever it takes. Then, let the tone of your voice nail it. Add a generosity of spirit, and you’re done!

OK. Willing to let me know what your vibe and energy is communicating to your audience 24/7. Love to hear your feedback, stories and experiences, as always. And remember to have a blast getting that vibe of yours  zinging!


  • Blog
  • September 10th, 2013

How to Be Your Authentic Self? Radio Interview with Dr. Bob Deutsch.


Meet Dr. Bob Deutsch: He wears many hats – as cognitive anthropologist, psychiatrist, founder of and author of the recently-published The 5 Essentials: Using Your Inborn Resources To Create a Fulfilling Life.

In full disclosure: I was holding my breath waiting to get my hands on this book (rather: get the book uploaded on my ipad!) Bob is a friend and colleague and he’d been talking about this book and the process of writing it for some time. What’s more, he’s naturally inspiring and intriguing so when he said the book started to write itself at a certain point, I knew this publication was going to hold some gems of wisdom and insight.

Let’s face it: there couldn’t be a better time for this book. We’re facing unprecedented levels of uncertainty and change, and it’s more important than ever that you know who you are. Bob’s The 5 Essentials is going to give you all the resources you need to do that. (What a relief, right!)

Listen to Bob talking up a storm on NY Brand Lab Radio: click this link, then scroll down when you land on the page:


FYI I met Bob at an innovation conference in NYC about 18 months ago. He was one of the most fascinating speakers I’d heard in a long time so after he finished, I ran up to him (bounding like a puppy dog, and I bet you’ve done that at least once, too), shook his hand because I just had to continue the dialog 1:1. At that time, he hadn’t written the book. In fact, it was that day he actually met the brilliant man who suggested Bob write a book, interestingly enough. (He shares that story in The 5 Essentials.

Basically, Bob has a highly-tuned anthropological eye for deep universals, and he tells us that we each have, in our own way and on our own scale, the ability to live lives as rich and vibrant as we can imagine. What could be better than that.

Bob has spent nearly three decades researching this question, and has found that each of us has five inborn resources — and that when used optimally, can lead to extraordinary levels of self-expansion.

The important thing to think about: Too many of us live too small a life. It’s time to live a bigger life. Bob’s 5 Essentials will help show the way:

1) Curiosity: Look under the hood of life. Go beyond the habitual. Don’t buy into the system. Risk a little, please.
2) Openness: You don’t need the end at the beginning. Embrace who you are. Appreciate life as a way to meet up with new aspects of yourself. Be open to surprises. Life is not linear. Rather it zig zags.
3) Sensuality: Don’t numb out. Live in feeling. i.e. Don’t skim over your feelings. Your feelings offer you clues and cues to what’s really going on.
4) Paradox: In our complex world, take the tensions around you & create something new/different.
5) Self-story: It lives at the intersection of memory, fact, imagination & emotions. It gives you vitality so you can expand and live a bigger life.

He calls these tools essentials because they live in each one of us. What’s more, they are central to our being, and they go a long way toward providing us clues to who we really are.

Well, it was over a week ago Bob was on my show, and I’m still pondering, musing and examining the notion of the fifth essential, self story. I’ve been talking to my friends and colleagues about it and sharing Bob’s story about his self story: He was born premature and spent the first critical days of his life inside an incubator. Part of Bob’s self story is that he does what he does today so well because he spent the first weeks of his life being inside the world, yet outside it — as an observer, so to speak. I’d call that a powerful metaphor.

OK. Want to take some time and think about your self story?

Here’s a little about my own self story: I was born a breech baby. I popped out feet first (instead of head first.) If we’re talking metaphors here, I could say I was born with my feet hitting the ground running. Some people tell me I haven’t stopped. (Running, that is.)

I have a bet: Once you hear Bob talk about each of the five essentials, you’re going to want to find out more. Check out his site ASAP:

Listen to Bob speaking on NY Brand Lab Radio here: (just scroll down when you land on the page)

PS Check out his corporate consulting site. You’ll learn a lot there, no doubt about it:

Then let me know how you’re doing writing your own self story. Add your comments below — always love to hear what you’re thinking and what you most get out of NY Brand Lab Radio interviews. Huge thanks,

  • Blog
  • July 11th, 2013

Want to grow your biz? Start with a Mini Dose of Brand Rejuvenation. (July 15)


YOU: You want to grow your business.

PROBLEM: You’re stressed because several serious points of pain in your business are simply getting in the way of your success. You want clarity and a strategic direction so you can actually see what’s really going on, make adjustments so you can move forward – and see your future.

SOLUTION: You are results-driven. No time to waste. So I’m suggesting a different way to reframe your thinking. You sense that a solid business partner in your life could actually make the difference. Particularly a global visionary with an outsider point of view plus a track record of growing businesses around the world.

HI. I’M VAN. I CAN GROW YOUR BUSINESS: As a business brand strategist with a deep skill set & an uncanny creative mindset, I’ve been recognizing the potential in brands, people, products and companies throughout my career. Because identifying and recognizing the core potential in business – and naming it – is exactly how you grow business.

MY METHODOLOGY: I identify the opportunities. Spot the invisible clues that are not working in your favor. Dissect the messaging. Coax out the real core genius,  identify and name it. Then, start on the transformation process:  language, voice, tone. See the difference?)

BTW: Your brand is talking to your world, audience, customers non stop…in snippets, dialogs, tweets, posts, ideas, messaging.  If you’re not aware of the real message behind that communication, or what your tone is implying, your business is going to stumble forward. (ie. Not a smart business strategy in today’s market.)

START WITH A MINI DOSE OF BRAND REJUVENATION: This is the second time I am offering a 25-minute Mini Brand Audit for $145. Huge value clearly. And I’m offering it because after teaching a weekend workshop on Personal Branding at the Omega Institute in upstate NY, I walked away realizing how many people are out there need a leg up,  so to speak, particularly in this economy and particularly around their brand issues. (I’m talking serious brand issues.)

GET YOUR MINI DOSE: NEXT MONDAY JULY 15: My team is allocating several BRAND REJUVENTATION sessions next Monday, July 15. (I like to work fast and furious.)


1) Easy. Pay via paypal $145. Just click on the link below.

2) Send me an email ( with your #1 point of pain around your business.

3) Include your preferred times in your email for Monday. FYI For you early birds, we can kickstart at 7:55am!

We’ll get back to you and confirm soonest, and we’ll plan a SKYPE session or get on the phone. Whatever suits.

Investment: It’s a one-time deal: $145  [Huge value. Clearly.]

Pay now for your 25 minute Mini Brand Lab $145


Book A Brand Audit with Van


A CASE STUDY – MEET ELIZABETH WATT: Elizabeth took me up on the offer of a mini Brand Audit session recently, and later sent me a BEFORE and AFTER photo of the changes she’d made to her home page. She’s an accomplished photographer & certified coach who launched (Check her out if you’re looking to make major shifts in life, career, the lot. She’s special.)

“I took Van up on her 25-minute offer, having experienced her gifts in a recent weekend workshop at Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY – but I wanted to continue the  Brand Dialog with her. Hey, Van is a genius! She ‘got’ me right away. She knew exactly WHAT had to change on my existing site and better yet, she gave me a great idea as to HOW to do it. She is an amazing thinking partner: it’s suddenly like having a new and better brain at your disposal. And, in 25 minutes – with one idea, with one line – she helped me reveal my truth. Thanks, Van!” – Elizabeth Watt,

OK. Let’s take a look at Elizabeth’s BEFORE and AFTER pics and I’ll walk through some of the clues I picked up on during the Brand Audit session. Here goes.

BEFORE The Brand Audit


OK. This is how the Brand Audit works.

I click on the home page and intuitively pick up on the clues. (Just a couple of clues here.)

Clue 1: The entire top right hand side of the home page (critically important real estate) is taken up with a background typographic treatment (murky colors & hard to read) and one round circle that pops with her logo (nice but as I ask myself, what’s her message here? We know it’s her logo (lovely typography, by the way) but why does it get to dominate this section?

Let’s come up with a more meaningful message, I suggest, that can still pop out on that right side? let’s bring a stronger sense of purpose and the kind of  value you bring to the table for your clients. I know Elizabeth, of course, because she signed up for the weekend workshop I led recently at the Omega Institute and knew she had steered a successful photography studio in NYC for many, many years…

…so I like the power of metaphors.  I suggest using a metaphor for how she is helping her clients. AS IN: you did look through the lens of your camera when you were shooting people and still life all those years, right? And, now, you’re still looking at people through your own lens, but you are now helping them in a different kind of way. You’re helping clients look at themselves from the inside out. Instead of just looking at the outside skin, so to speak, as photographer. (I know that’s debatable. Of course,  many brilliant photographers do exactly that: they capture the inner essence of people in their photographs…) And that’s what you’re doing now!

…getting back to the metaphor: let’s talk about what you really do now:: as in :: you help people see the world  through a new lens. It’s an apt metaphor, for sure. Elizabeth went back to her designer and dropped in the new line against a photo she took. So the minute you land on her home page, you get the sense of who she is, what she can do for you – and why it matters.

Clue 2: I can’t help picking up on the color choice on the home page: Quite lovely. But a little murky. There’s something about simplicity and a clarity that is important on sites. Nothing like the lightness of being. So instead of having that murky woodsy green in the background, I suggest using a cleaner, creamier palette. It allows the eye more space, to breathe a little as it moves around the page and works out where to stop, settle and read…a little.

Note: We have to think about the eye and make it an easy, effortless and seamless path (so to speak) for the human eye to wander around once landed on our site, stop to gaze, explore a little and stay – rather then scare them away, screaming! When Elizabeth changed that background color, it feels much more peaceful, inviting and confident.

Get the idea?

AFTER The Brand Audit



(i) an allocation of time when you invite an outsider (alias: a Brand Auditor with global business acumen) to probe around your brand, pull back the layers &  spot the invisible clues that are shooting your business in the foot;

(ii) a willingness (on your part) to hear the feedback when same Brand Auditor has analyzed & assessed your business, messaging, attitute & tone, language – and site;

(iii) a desire & curiosity (on your part) to absorb the ideas, new insights and then take advantage of all the ways you can reframe your business, thinking, attitude – so you can start to attract more visibility and profitability and grow your business.

If you’re thinking of getting an outsider insights when it comes to growing your business, this is one opportunity for a 1/4 of the price. Look forward to growing your business – in this mini session of brand rejuvenation!

Talk on Monday, July 15

FYI My signature 60-minute Brand Audit is recently overhauled: I made it more robust, more comprehensive and bumped it up from 60 to 90 minutes. Current investment $575. 


Mary van de Wiel, Brand Anthropologist | twitter @maryvandewiel | Linkedin/maryvandewiel  |  |