Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Will I ever trust Uber again?

Posted: April 19th, 2024 | Posted in Uncategorized |

I had just finished a speaking event in Brisbane. Adrenaline had been pumping for days in the lead up and now it was all over. The celebration dinner was done and it was time to head back to my hotel. 

I realised that it was time to refocus and get organised for my early trip to the airport the next morning to fly back to Sydney.

I hopped onto the Uber app and reserved a ride for 6:30am which would get me to the airport in time for my 8am flight.

I received the confirmation notice that my driver Mike would be there at 6:30 but would only stay until 6:35. Ubers way of letting me know not to be late otherwise my ride would be cancelled and I’d be charged the fair.

The alarm went off at 6pm. I checked my phone and all looked good – no notifications from Uber letter me know that plans had changed. I arrived in the foyer at 6:25, dropped off my keys and checked the app to see how far away Mike was.

As I logged into the app I got a notification that my trip was completed and I had been invoiced. I was so confused as the pick up time was still a few minutes away.

I clicked on the past ride to see if I could contact Mike to find out if he was still coming, however there was no way of reaching him. I tried to contact Uber but their “help” is only a preprogrammed bot that does not have an option for “ride marked as complete before even started” or “driver never arrived”.

I clicked some random “other” option and hit submit. Clearly no help was readily at hand.

It was now 6:35am – the time when Mike would be allowed to leave if I wasn’t there. But what happens if Mike never even arrived? I had no way of contacting him or Uber and I had a plane to catch.

I immediately called 13Cabs and got an automated booking service that had my cab booked in under a minute. Could it be this easy? Would someone actually arrive? My phone pinged.

“Yusuf driving cab xxx is arriving. Thanks for choosing 13cabs.”

10 minutes later I was in the taxi heading to the airport and would not miss my flight – no thanks to Uber.

After checking in and grabbing a much needed coffee, my phone pinged again. It was Uber informing me that there was a misunderstanding of the time and that I hadn’t been charged more than the quoted amount. What? Why was I charged at all?

Apparent Mike had arrived at 6:17am, waited 5mins and then drove off to his next job and charged me for a trip that was never taken. 

I’m sorry – what? 

The booking was clearly for 6:30am and as you can see from the trip – I clearly didn’t get it to the airport and Uber still thinks it’s ok to charge me?

News flash Uber – that’s not OK.

From a branding perspective here’s the problem for Uber.

1. My trust in Uber has been broken.

Will I feel secure using their reserve feature in the future? No, of course not because when I needed it most, the service failed.

2. Poor communication channels.

There was no way for me to contact the driver – or any human for that matter. The automated bot didn’t have a solution that could solve my problem at that very moment. Not being able to speak to a human made my experience frustrating not to mention my concern about missing my flight.

3. Not taking responsibility.

After lodging my dispute about the invoice, Uber acknowledged a timing issue but did not offer to refund the amount, instead stating that I wasn’t charged an additional cancellation fee which has left a bad taste in my mouth.

4. Wasting my time.

Now I have to spend my time chasing this refund adding more frustration and discontent.

What would have been a better experience?

1. The Uber driver could have waited until the actual pick up time.

That’s it! Be there when you say you will be there. Wait until the agreed time is up.

I decided to book the Uber ride as it was $20 cheaper than the taxi ride taken from the airport 3 days earlier. My lesson learnt – pay peanuts, get monkeys!

Note to self: remove Uber app from phone.

Optus hell no!

Posted: November 8th, 2023 | Posted in Uncategorized | No comments

You could literally hear a collective groan this morning as Australian’s across the country who are on the Optus network, woke to find that their morning procrastascroll ritual was halted in it’s track.

It appears that the Optus ‘Yes’ slogan – which was designed to represent the voice of the customer – is starting to turn into a resounding ‘no’! The Optus woes hit their zenith in September 2022 when they suffered one of the largest cyber-attacks resulting in nearly 10million past and present customers’ data being leaked.

By October, reported that 10 percent of Optus customers had decided to let their feelings over the data breach be known by walking away from Australia’s second biggest telco.

With today’s outage businesses, schools, hospitals and transport network communication came screeching to a halt. As someone who never carries cash, it came as quite a shock that I couldn’t buy my morning coffee as the EFTPOS machine didn’t work. Apart from no communication, we now we have a cranky, caffeine-deprived community. Not to mention the loss of income for so many small businesses, taxis and banking services. Then of course there are millions of us mere mortals who are without our trusty appendages. Heaven forbid that my teenagers won’t be able to keep up with their SnapChat streak – unless of course they all crowd into Macca’s for the free Wifi.

Seriously though, an outage that started in the wee hours of the morning and is still not fixed almost half a day later, is unheard of in our world of fast paced technology. Australia is a very small place when it comes to mistakes of this magnitude. More concerning is that it took Optus CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin almost six hours to address the Optus crash, only to admit that they had still not identified the source of the problem. If this turns out to be another cyber-attack, how have they let this happen – again? Can Optus come back from what is being named as the biggest national phone outage ever?

While Telstra and Vodafone rub their hands with glee, knowing full well that this could be their early Christmas present, the question must be asked if this is the death knoll for Optus. Mistakes happen, we all get that, however, the way Optus handled both the data breach and now this outage has clearly left a bitter taste in customers mouths. Branding isn’t about the logo, pretty colours or fancy stores. The brand is about reputation, about how you make your customers feel and what they say about you when you aren’t in the room. You don’t have to be a genius to know that the brand damage from this outage will have long term repercussion for Optus No.

We’re taking bets on what percentage of customers Optus will lose with this massive faux pas.

Censored Author

Posted: November 30th, 2022 | Posted in Uncategorized | No comments


I recently launched my book Brand Magic, How to Build a Brand with Personality. All very exciting, however there is a crazy story about censorship with this book that I’m finally able to tell!
The short story is that I am officially a censored author! The long story is…
I decided to print the books in China due to the cost savings. They were pretty good to deal with. The books were printed, packed and ready for shipping until…
The Cultural Bureau did a spot check at the printers and deemed that my book contained “sensitive content” so was refused permission to leave the printers let alone the country!
My book is all about branding and personalities. There is nothing political, offensive or inciting. I was shocked and utterly confused.
It turns out that under The Caregiver Brand Personality as part of a list of names, I mention the Dalai Lama! He is simply listed, no sentence or further content – just a name. I was informed that the Cultural Bureau had seized one of my books and would make a decision that would either delay the delivery of the books by months or result in the books being terminated!
What??? Coming from a democracy where we have freedom of speech, this was very confronting. I was being dictated to as to what I could or couldn’t put in my book!
We had to kick into gear and solve this problem. For the sake of getting this long awaited books out, I opted to resupply the “sensitive content” page. All books were removed from the pallet, unboxed, has the single page reprinted and replaced and we were back on track.
Will this make a difference to your enjoyment of the book? No. However, this one page has been altered to comply with censorship and was not my original plan.
The censored book can be bought on Amazon or through our website, however the Kindle version is uncensored.
Crazy but true story!

The small lessons learnt from a 6 star brand experience

Posted: June 11th, 2021 | Posted in Uncategorized | No comments

It’s not often that you get to celebrate 20 years of marriage. So in true celebratory mode, my husband David and I, chose to spend a long weekend at the 6 star lodge in Wolgan Valley called One&Only. 

To say that we were blown away is an understatement! As a brand strategist I couldn’t help but marvel at the brand experience they created for us and felt that it was my duty to relay such attention to detail – as I do believe that each and everyone of us can learn from this 6 star business.

I must confess that my initial experience with the One&Only brand wasn’t earth shattering. The website, which was my initial point of contact, had me rather confused as I fumbled my way through trying to find out what was on the spa menu and what activities where on offer. This part left me a little frustrated and to be honest I gave up in the end.

However, I’m really nit-picking here as there really wasn’t much else to fault this brand on.

Prior to our getaway, I received an email reminding me of our visit. They redeemed themselves as attached to the email were about 8 pdf files that went through all their additional activities and how to book them.

The day before departure I received a phone call from One&Only to check if I had received everything and ask if I had any questions. I was able to immediately book in our day spa session, so I was happy. I was at this point informed that we would receive a complimentary lunch which we could enjoy on the day of our arrival or departure. We chose to do this on the day that we arrived.

The drive over the Blue Mountains from Sydney is beautiful and as we descended into the Wolgan Valley we could literally feel the stress fading away.

We were met at the gate where our bags were unpacked and tagged and popped into the 4 wheel drive that took us up to the lodge. We were greeted with hot towels and taken straight to enjoy a sumptuous lunch with delicious local Mudgee wines. Lunch overlooked the grounds dotted with kangaroos and wombats! I can only imagine how overseas guests would have felt being so close to Australian wildlife.

So here’s what I noticed.

Everyone that we came in contact with was incredibly well trained and knew all about the company, activities, history, wines and food. I just love that the brand supports local industry with food and wine sourced from the area. The products in the day spa are all from an Australian company called Sodashi and these products are also found in your villa. Another Australian brand that they support is R.M Williams. Staff (other than management) wore deep blue R.M Williams jeans with an R.M Williams belt. It all added to the distinctly Australian bush experience that they were creating. Now all I want is one of their belts!

The staff all greeted us by placing their right hand over the heart which made us feel acknowledged and special. 

When we checked in, we were personally escorted to our villa and given a tour to show us where everything was and how to work it. Our bags had already been delivered and were neatly stowed in the massive walk-in robe/dressing room. Apart from our own personal pool, fluffy white robes, a shower with a glass ceiling and a double sided fireplace, they focused on the small things too…

Every villa was provided with a sketch pad and pencils for those, like me, who love to dabble in drawing. There were books and magazines, the newspaper delivered daily, mountain bikes on our porch for exploring the property, a backpack to pop our complimentary sunscreen and drinks in when going on an outing and of course Australian organic tea and coffee.

The weekend was pure luxury but it was how they made us feel that ensured that our experience was an unforgettable one.

For example, on our second night, they ran out of the red wine that we had enjoyed the night before. As an apology for this (really not their fault, right?) I was offered a glass of French champagne instead of the Prosecco that I was quite happy to enjoy. The manager then ducked into the cellar and was able to find the very last bottle of that vintage that we loved. This bottle was kept on our table all night so that no-one else in the restaurant could drink it.

What impressed me most was not the big impressive offerings at the lodge (although they certainly were outstanding), but rather the attention to detail on the small seemingly insignificant things.

The sound of the wooden chimes (rather than metal) that we heard as we walked up to the day spa. The fact that staff remembered us and greeted us by name when we arrived for our meals. It doesn’t cost a cent to be polite, to smile and to make people feel welcome, yet so many businesses overlook this very simply offering.

It took 6 star service to remind me, that this is something that each and everyone of us could be doing in our business right now.

When ‘doing good’ can turn a brand bad

Posted: January 28th, 2020 | Posted in Uncategorized | No comments

The Australian bush fires have certainly made an impact on Australians and the world stage. People have lost loved ones, homes, businesses and pets. Our once buzzing tourist trade is dwindling to nothing as overseas visitors are choosing less charred soils to explore and fresh air destinations to enjoy.

In the meantime, millions of dollars have poured in from around the world to help our scorched nation get back on its feet. People and organisations have trusted that their well-meaning donations will end up in the right hands to help those who need it most.

But it appears that while we have plenty of good Samaritans out there, one of our most trusted charity brands, the Red Cross has admitted that they are withholding up to two-thirds of their $115million donations, and that 10% of this will be used for administration purposes. As a result, our faith in donating to large organisations is dwindling.

In a recent report by 7News, the Red Cross admits that they may withhold funds to go towards future disasters such as cyclones or floods. The problem with this is logic is that people have donated now, for those who need help, now. They don’t want their money quarantined for another disaster.

Unfortunately, the Red Cross has burnt their brand with this behaviour, partly because, in the past donors have trusted that the Red Cross will ‘do right’ by Australian people in need. This latest bombshell breaks this trust.

When it comes to building a reputable and trustworthy brand, consumers look to the brand promise, it’s consistency and its actions for a moral compass on how they behave. When mixed messages start coming through, confusion and suspicion start to creep in.

As recently as November 2019 Judy Slatyer, Red Cross CEO in reference to the ‘Help Aussie Farmers’ campaign was quoted in saying “It’s going to be a long hard road ahead for farmers and their communities. People can still donate and 100% of all donations are going to severely drought-affected farmers.” It comes then as no surprise, that donors may expect the same treatment of their bushfire donations as they would the Aussie Farmer donations. What is not common knowledge is that Red Cross on most occasions uses 10% of donations to fund administration costs. Poor communication is one of the key driving factors

What we have here is a case of donors expecting one thing and the charity doing another.

Now I don’t want to make the Red Cross out to be all bad, as on the whole, they do a tremendous amount of good. However, when huge donations of funds are involved and emotions are running high, this is no time to behave in a way that will make people distrust that the donations that they have made will be used for anything other than what they are intended.

The effect of the Red Cross’s behaviour is far reaching and doesn’t just reflect on them. As an industry, all major charities will come under fire and scrutiny. Without trust in a brand or an industry for that matter (we saw this with the banking sector), people may choose to donate to more local causes, where they can actually see a difference being made. This will be great for grass-root organisations and has in fact made organisations such as B1G1 a popular alternative particularly for businesses.

B1G1 has an easy to access online service where you can choose amongst hundreds of initiatives that you would like to support. Some support requires as little as 50c to help a project. All B1G1 projects are in line with the Sustainable Development Goals set by global leaders. They also promise that 100% of your giving goes to the projects you choose. B1G1 lets you track every single impact you create in real time through impact counters and interactive maps. This brand is truly looking at how to solve a problem while offering transparency.

Trust, communication and transparency are integral parts of any brand. Once any of these elements falls flat it is extremely difficult to gain back the trust and reliable reputation. The raw reality is that your consumer or supporter is not interested in what you say, they are interested in what you do. Actions always speak louder than words.

So what should the Red Cross do to help mitigate this brand damage? For one, they need to communicate better. Secondly, they should ensure that there is complete transparency when it comes to where they are spending the donated money and how people can get access to it. By demonstrating how they are helping and who they are helping, they will over time be able to build back trust. But this is a challenging emotion to overcome and some may not be as forgiving.

It would be a shame for people to lose faith in the very charities that are supposed to help, support and care for those in need.

Meme and Shame

Posted: September 22nd, 2019 | Posted in Uncategorized | No comments

Dear “AFL Memes” Social Media Managers

It saddens and disappoints me that a page with so many followers has chosen to go down the route of degrading women with what is nothing less than crude and juvenile humour.

Over the weekend you posted a meme about a female St George Dragons AFL player who did a mid-air split jump to spoil a marking attempt by Holroyd Parramatta.

The sad part is that the young woman you have chosen to degrade is in fact only 17 years old. The mind air splits that player Erin Wardrop (yes, she is a real human and has a name), achieves is nothing short of an incredible feat of athleticism. I have yet to see a male player perfect a move like this. However, you chose to turn this strength and determination into gutter smut for the infantile pleasure of what appears to be a growing audience for the footy codes of Australia. The comments made by some of the men on social media is stomach churning.


It’s unfortunate that the footy codes in Australia have gained the reputation of abusing alcohol, drugs and women. The AFL and NRL are currently in a state of brand crisis with this type of culture running rampant amongst some of the players and clearly from a fair few of the supporters. And it’s these types of posts that fuel the reputation further.

The disappointing part is that you had an opportunity to use this image for good. You had the perfect platform to highlight just how amazing the female AFL players are and, to throw down the gauntlet to male players challenging them to perform such a move. You had the chance to help redirect the AFL brand into a better light rather than cement the current perception.

But here’s the thing, “AFL Memes” Social Media Managers, there are so many good men who not only play the game but that support it too. These gentlemen don’t find humour in bad taste memes. They understand the difference between what is appropriate and what isn’t. These good men can recognise that the sexualisation of such an extraordinary achievement of athleticism is nauseating. I noticed that some of these good men were commenting on how inappropriate the post was, yet they got shot-down themselves.

The good men understand this as a major problem not just in the footy culture, but our Australian culture too. What if the next woman to be objectified was their mother, sister or daughter?

You should be looking to these gentlemen as a moral compass guide. Use their standards of how to treat women for a better code of conduct, and help improve and enhance the reputation of the brand for all footy codes.

“AFL Memes” Social Media Managers, I implore you to think of the influence you have over your audience. Before you post, please consider the young men and women who will see these memes and be mindful of the affects you can have on them, the type of behaviour you are endorsing and on the brand perception of the AFL.

You have an incredible opportunity to do good. Wit is one thing, smut is another. Be good humans. Stand up for those who are creating amazing things in this world. Prove to all of those watching, that footy fans and players are intelligent, mindful and respectful. Help change the brand of AFL. Help create a better world for our families to enjoy good, healthy and respectful sports. Help eliminate sexual objectification, not promote it. Raise the bar and be role models for others to follow.

Be kind. Be courteous. Be good.

Lord of the dance

Posted: January 11th, 2019 | Posted in Uncategorized | No comments

And just like that 2019 is upon us. I took a much needed break over the holidays which included a full social media detox!

At first it was hard as I felt as though I was missing out, but after a few days I realised that I didn’t miss it at all, and I was able to find time to think. Really think.

As I sit here writing, the tune of a hymn from my boarding school days rings in my ears…

“Dance then, wherever you may be
I am the Lord of the dance said He
and I’ll lead you all wherever you may be
and I’ll lead you all in the dance said He.”

As per the four or five years past, I have a word for 2019.

My word this year is ‘Dancer’.

This word has a lot of meaning to me at the moment. Partly because I have just been through what I can only describe as the hardest month I’ve experienced in 16 years of business. I won’t go into details, but lets just say that I was delivered a few hefty blows – four to be exact. And they left me reeling. For most of the month I operated in a fog. I could hardly see one step in front of me – let alone be an inspiring leader, creative director and consultant!

I was in shock. I was devastated and overwhelmed. I felt abandoned, but most of all I was cranky at myself. Why? Well, this is the second reason why Dancer is so important to me. It’s because I have been getting up everyday, putting on a brave face that was focused on pleasing everyone else but myself. Being a business owner is hard. There is so much responsibility. So much that it’s exhausting!

Apart from bringing in work, managing workflow, systems and procedures, servicing clients and paying the bills I also take my responsibility to look after my staff very seriously. You know the drill, pay wages, manage holidays, ensure that they are happy, inspired and motivated. Yet in the process of giving to clients, the team, contractors, suppliers, colleagues and everyone in-between, I was becoming depleted. No one (including me) was looking after my happiness, inspiration or motivation. I was running on empty with nothing to replenish my tank.

I was dancing to everybody else’s music.

But that was so 2018.

This year I am the Dancer.

I choose the music. I choose what beat I want to move to. I choose how fast or slow I want to dance and I choose who* I want to dance with. This is my year to move, pivot, leap and stretch.

I am excited.

And if I’m honest I am also a little nervous and more than a little petrified! But that’s good right?

The rehearsal has been practiced for 16 years. Now it’s showtime. The stage is set, the curtain is up. It’s time for me to press play and step into the spotlight to dance to the rhythm of my own drum.

“Dance then, wherever you may be
I am the Lord of the dance said She
and I’ll lead you all wherever you may be
and I’ll lead you all in the dance said She.”

* I don’t work with assholes

Coles flips while their brand flops

Posted: August 13th, 2018 | Posted in Uncategorized | No comments

It seems that Cole can’t make up their mind.

Do they support plastic use, are they against it, should they supply bags for free, perhaps for a limited time, or maybe forever, no lets go back to a limited time.

Clearly they have no clear environmental policy or strategy, and their indecision on what option to use fluctuates more than a 15 year olds decision on what selfie to post!

The backlash to Coles ban on single use plastic bags has left consumers feeling insulted and frustrated. Initially, the concept was to remove single use plastic bags from their supermarkets in the attempt to help the environment. Well, that is what we were lead to believe. But it is quite clear that Coles has used the eco-warrior ruse to jump on a money-making band wagon.

From their actions, it appears that Coles has absolutely no regard for our environment, or for the intelligence of their customers.

Did they think that we would be fooled?

Firstly, according to an analysis by Queensland University of Technology retail expert Dr Gary Mortimer, Coles and Woolworths stand to make roughly $71 million in gross profit by replacing free lightweight plastic bags with the heavier 15c bags. This excludes profits from their more environmentally friendly material bag options which are being sold for $1-$3 per bag!

Secondly, banning single use plastic bags only to replace them with heavier plastic bags, still results in the use of plastic bags. The thicker ones may last slightly longer, but they too will break and end up in landfill. And lastly, not even a month after banning the plastic bags, Coles brings out a promotion that involves customers being rewarded with plastic covered, plastic toys for every $30 spent. These ‘Little Shop’ toys clearly show Coles lack of brand alignment when it comes to the environment.

The backlash to all of this behaviour has left consumers with a very bad taste in their mouths, and they have taken to social media to share the views on the topic. A campaign stating ‘COLES just ditched the plastic bag ban! SHARE if you will now ditch COLES’ has gained traction even though Coles has flipped back to a limited time on free 15c bags. Environment Victoria went to social media and shared a range of new thicker plastic bag designs for Coles to distribute which show the damage to wildlife and a beach affected by litter.

Coles Moles plastic bag brand damage

But it doesn’t end there. A website called has been launched where you can buy your Coles Moles reusable cloth bag (which will last way longer than a plastic bag). You can now show your distaste for Coles’ plastic bag ban backflip, with a reusable bag that gives the supermarket giant the big ol’ middle finger.

The damage to the Coles brand is proving to be far more than they would have anticipated.

This move to single use bags reeks of money, deception and lies. The back flipping could rival Olympian gymnasts but the question is, will the Australian consumer support this trumped up, deceptive behaviour. Or will they choose to talk with their feet and head to supermarkets such as Aldi, Woolworths or IGA?

If Coles wants to maintain their position as one of the super-super market giants, then they are going to have to take a very close look at their brand alignment and bring some authenticity into the mix.

It’s not what you say Coles that matters, it’s what you do.

Condescending GIO advert makes women look stupid

Posted: May 16th, 2018 | Posted in Uncategorized | No comments

In a world where glass ceilings are still so prevalent and industries are notorious for undermining and underestimating the power, intelligence and determination of women, it is disappointing to see one of our largest insurance companies view their opinion of women to the entire nation.

It appears that GIO sees women as stupid, uneducated fools that have no idea what insurance they may or may not have. In their recent ‘You Know With GIO’ campaign that has aired prolifically during the Monday screening on Channel 7 of The Mentor, GIO has an advert which is both condescending and undermining to women.

I can imagine how the situation unfolded…

The marketing team (or Leo Burnett to be precise) was called in to brainstorm areas of customer concern or pain points and then to problem solve these with solutions that GIO can provide the client. With painstaking research they discover that most people don’t know what they are covered for. Bingo, they have a strategy. This all seems perfectly harmless and quite frankly it’s standard marketing practice.

However, it is in the execution of the advert that the GIO marketers have fallen far from the mark. GIO replied to a tweet of mine saying “it’s (the advert) designed to be an education piece based on the insight that many people may not know what they are covered for.”

The problem with this is that the ‘many people’ in the advert only appear to be somewhat dazed, unsure, confused women. Not a single man was shown not knowing what they are covered for.

Gender bias? Absolutely.

Condescending towards women? Without a doubt.

Perhaps GIO should look further into their ‘insight’ to determine exactly how many women are organising insurance. I would imagine there would be a fair amount of us. Which means that their condescending brand is insulting the very customers they are trying to attract.

Now I’m sure that the advert appears in many time slots however I find the positioning of the advert during a small business program interesting. Clearly GIO has done their research and gained from the 2016 census that more women are starting and running businesses than ever before. And no, we are not all helpless, unknowing, pathetic souls who have no idea about our insurance.

If your clients are unclear of what they are covered for GIO, perhaps you should look at how you are communicating with them.

As a business owner of two companies, the decision maker on our home and content insurance and the one who manages our investment property insurance, I can assure you that I will make a very educated decision not to support a brand that undermines women. The omission of depicting a clueless man in your advert screams loud and clear to the nation, that GIO believes that only men know about insurance.

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