Archive Page 2


When has branding gone too far?

“The Beach” versus the “The Beaches” — When has branding gone too far?

Branding has gone too far when local residents spend time and money arguing about whether the Toronto area should be called “The Beach” or “The Beaches.”

“There has been endless debate over the official term for the area. While old school Beachers call the area “The Beach,” the uninterrupted stretch of shoreline actually has four different names associated with different sections. Moving west to east we find Woodbine Beach, Kew Beach, Scarboro Beach and finally Balmy Beach, leading many to endorse “The Beaches” as the name for the entire length that runs from Woodbine Park at the bottom of Coxwell Avenue to the R. C. Harris Water Treatment Plant (locally known as the water works).”

Although the street signs now officially read “The Beach,” I am tired of being corrected by local residents when I use the term “The Beaches.” Does using the singular or the plural make any difference in the overall brand effectiveness? No!

Do you think it is worth investing time and money to argue about brands at this level of detail?


Plugging In…

I came across a very interesting poster recently at the TTC Finch Subway Station. Although not visually impactful, the words “plug in your headphones to hear the secret” caught my attention.

Curious, I plugged in my personal headphones and listened carefully to each of the six audio explanations—Xhosa tribesman, speed-reader, fax machine, 5-year old boy, gentleman with a heavy accent and a whale. Unfortunately, I was not able to understand any of the sound tracks to learn “how they get the caramel into the Caramilk Bar”. Still curious, I went to the advertised interactive website “still”. On this site I relistened to the six audio tracks and viewed the current Caramilk ads.

Although I felt a little embarrassed standing in front of an ad plugging in my earphones with people

constantly staring and walking by, this ad was successful. It made me stop, get engaged and be entertained.

How about you, have any ads caught your attention lately? If so, which ones?

Cadbury Ad


brand makeovers all the rage this year!

When you think of the word “Nike”, do you think of sports? Or perhaps you think of the words “fun” or “active”? Why is that? Well, Nike has—since the 1950s—successfully aligned its brand with its consumers.

How has Nike been able to stay fresh for over 50 years? Simple—they constantly re-invent themselves while staying true to their core values.

Today, many industries are realizing it’s important to redefine the brand’s appearance to remain competitive in the face of a growing global marketplace. Revamping a brand can be as small as a little identity botox or as extensive as neurosurgery, with the brand undergoing comprehensive shifts in image, culture, best practices and personality alignment for maximum desirability.

Facebook enjoys a regular nip and tuck, constantly revamping social network pages and services to reinvirgorate its relationship with existing users and attracting new members. Head and Shoulders recently underwent a major facelift to take its brand from a “dandruff-only shampoo” to a line of complex hair-care products. They stayed authentic to their brand, continuing to offer dandruff protection while attracting a wider demographic with new scents, conditioners, and other hair-care features.

While the core essence of the brand must remain true, its appearance must be both maintained and updated to sustain its relevancy and value, reflecting what is happening in the world today. Ask yourself, are you still wearing your high school hairstyle and clothes? Well? If your brand is—get a makeover, like now!


Be Inspired…

Need creative inspiration?

Our studio recently discovered this eclectic collage of artwork on the Behance Network.

Creative Network

Behance Network Home Page


Taking Ownership of the Toronto Brand…

During the current Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 416 strike, my Toronto neighbourhood came together to mow the lawn at Merrill Bridge Road Park. As a community, it was important to us that our children and dogs have a safe place to play and that we take pride in the appearance of our public space. It seemed innocent enough—neighbours coming together for a good cause and getting to know each other over a free BBQ.

“The city belongs to everybody, not just the striking workers. It belongs to the taxpayers,” said Christine MacLean, the organizer of the Merrill Bridge Road Park mowfest, Toronto Star, July 10, 2009. “We have to stop relying on the city to provide everything. The community has to take some kind of ownership and that’s what we’re doing.”

To our surprise, the press came out to publicize our actions and the President of CUPE Local 416 responded by calling us “SCABS”!

As the days pass into weeks during this strike, I am proud to be a Torontonian. Citizens are taking ownership of our city by actively mowing lawns, cleaning parks and streets, and going above and beyond for no pay and little recognition just to keep the Toronto brand great.

What are you doing to keep Toronto great during this strike?


Oh Canada….

There I am driving in Toronto, south on Yonge Street passing Eglinton, and I can hear police saying “….stand back from the door, stay in-line and off the road…” and I wondered what the heck was going on?! I later learned how the Mandarin brand was celebrating Canada Day! Check this out and let us know if you experienced any great Canada Day brand initiatives?

The Mandarin offered an All-You-Can-Eat FREE buffet to celebrate Canada Day between 12 pm to 8:30 pm for anyone who provided proof of Canadian citizenship at any of their 21 Ontario outlets. Mandarin fans started lining-up at 1 am and by noon over 800 Canadians were lined-up around the block at the Mandarin Yonge/Eglinton location which seats 250 guests. The crowds waited over 3-hours in-line and restaurants were forced to bring in extra food and staff to accommodate the growing throng of people.

“Co-founder James Chiu, 61, got the 21 Ontario outlets to celebrate Mandarin’s 30th anniversary and to thank Canada for their success by offering free meals. ‘We are very grateful,’ said Chiu, who emigrated from Taiwan with his family in 1964, became a Canadian citizen five years later and opened his first restaurant in Brampton in 1979. Chiu estimated the event would provide more than 30,000 meals, costing about $500,000.”

Packet & Times Article

Metro News


James Chiu, centre, President of Mandarin, and other staff members hand out spring rolls to some of the hundreds of people that lined up outside the Yonge/Eglinton restaurant. Image: Avid Cooper/Torstar News Service



YAY! Toronto is taking the lead on creativity and bringing the multi-dimensional world of the arts to our city with Luminato, a ten-day arts and creativity festival—fantastic!

Friday night was great, “The Girls and Their Buddy” at Massey Hall: Shawn Colvin, wonderful; Patty Griffin, amazing voice, so Nashville; Emmylou Harris, sweet and reserved; and then there’s Buddy Miller—go Buddy go! Together, they jammed in that old hall with great sound and made you feel like you were hanging out in their barn…a really nice laid-back introduction to the uniqueness of a festival where people want to share their passion and talent.

Next, on to the red carpet for the opening night “parties” at The National Ballet School. The outside of the building was transformed into an engaging visual art/media expression with constant images and messages 5 stories high! Lights, cameras, action—all inside…

The best was on the second floor, hosted by Armani. It was happening. Skipping the name dropping, everyone was happy to be involved with this very cool thing called Luminato. The parties had live, unique and diverse entertainment, late night snacks and tons of people all excited and talking about which event they were going to next, how great it is to have Toronto bringing such talent to the public largely for FREE…so many wonderful offerings, possibilities and OH NO I thought of taking a night off this week—now all I want to know is how do I get tickets for the sold-out Nederlands Dans Theater for Thursday?


Saturday night we joined The Children’s Crusade for the standing and OUTSTANDING performance in the converted old warehouse on Dufferin Street, including Fire Marshals haha, no kidding. It added to the excitement and expression of simply working with creativity in our city. It is a must see—with a wonderful mix of macabre, seedy and terrific acts. Oh did I mention it’s a musical, NOT like anything you’ve ever seen.


Sunday we enjoyed an appreciation brunch at the AGO with friends and those generous Luminaries: gracious founding supporters who helped transform the nothing-less-than-brilliant shared vision of Tony Gagliano and David Pecaut (founders) into reality. A wonderful investment in engaging the city with creativity, innovation and unique festival-only experiences—truly an important initiative for Toronto’s social, cultural and economic development. 

After lunch HA! Mesmerized we were, by the visual and audio works of Tony Oursler in Grange Park, on the corner of McCaul and Dundas and just inside the AGO, past the shop—FREE of charge. Yes, we spotted the RED BALL at Old City Hall which was fun, as hundreds of people snapped photos of family and friends standing beside the massive ball squished into the columns at the front door :-), but the real beauty was at BCE place! It’s brilliant, the “long wave” by David Rokeby—represented by Pari Nadimi Gallery.

Ahhhh, no rest this week: it’s the Tribute to Neil Young tomorrow night—and I’m still seeking tickets for Nederlands for Thusday. Friday, 5 O’Clock Bells; Saturday we’re off to enjoy the “very hot” interpretation and closing night performance of Carmen and a coolio/fresh after-party (tell you all about it next week), and Sunday—a special 25th Anniversary of Cirque Du Soleil event at Harbourfront—FREE.

How’s your week shaping up? See you at Luminato