Archive for January, 2011


There IS an “I” in Team!

Maybe it’s me, maybe I have this strange genetic animosity against cheesy, nauseating clichés… such as There is no “I” in Team.

Well guess, what? There is a darn “I” in Team, in fact there are many!

I guess it’s time we woke up and realized that this is the era of micro-marketing. Orwellian strategies are dead. The power of a team is in the power of every “I” in it.

Marketing has evolved from a Woodstock massive hallucination tactics, where one gets the idea, and the others glue themselves to it and call themselves “Team”, to a more polarized view where the power of a team and the magnitude of its outcome is mostly based on the performance of every individual separately. Only then, the efficiency of a team can be measured.

The stupid “I”-in-a-Team thing, was probably the brainchild of someone who was so lazy and inefficient that he or she had to hide their failure by not being an “I” and instead becoming a team! Pffff!

My aim in this post is to revive the concept of the team, talk about it again. It’s been a while we haven’t reflected on what makes a team and why. We have been drowning in calling ourselves “team” and became oblivious of what made us one.

Let me first start by saying that based on the new universal truth of “Perception is Reality”, teams everywhere around the corporate galaxy are cheering themselves. They are doing so for successes the hero of which is embedded in the deepest layers of the “perception” of team.

Look at Social Media and how successful organizations are managing their online strategy. Social Media is about speaking to every “I” in a team, culture, society or ideology. It is not anymore, like middle-ages advertising, about talking to clusters of masses that we look at like blobs of potential buyers. Every “I” we talk to in Social Media, teams up with other “I”s to form working influential teams.

I just love dictionaries. They have this simple and innocent way of explaining things that leaps beyond our weird way of translating them:

TEAM |tēm|
noun [treated as sing. or pl. ]
a group of players forming one side in a competitive game or sport.
• two or more people working together : a team of researchers
• two or more animals, esp. horses, harnessed together to pull a vehicle.

So here it is, in the most stark contrast with our game of perception and reality, a team is always about two or more “I”, each doing his, her or its job to achieve the team’s mission.

I know, I know, some of you are reading and wondering what the hell has gotten into me now to start philosophizing on the issue! I’ll tell you what, frustration! That’s what.

I am frustrated at the way we take things, twist them, mold them, shape them and keep massaging them until they fit our own vision of things… Not that we always have a “vision” of things… Vision might be a big word for the stupid us who actually do that… The amazing fact is that we actually create “teams” to do it!

I have to always come back to Lebanon for resourceful examples, for two reasons: Who am I to reflect on the world? And two, simply because Lebanon is an amazingly fertile ground that spawns imbecilities and is constantly kept at the perfect temperature to store them, freezing!

So, looking at Lebanon and how Lebanese at large perceive the concept of Team, you can’t help but think that our definition of team is: The ultimate hideout for mediocrity that simultaneously manages to uplift our image!

Your image will become that of the team’s. In other words, you’re a nobody that does nothing and yet manages, along with other “team members” to keep doing nothing, and collect the credit earned by that poor single team member who does all the work! Wao! I’d like to do that sometimes.

I bet most of you now are thinking about the “teams” you have at work, the ones you are part of, and whether you’re the parasite or the hero… Good. Keep thinking.

As for me, I do not care about how things go at work. What I worry about is how can a country become a corporation managed by “teams” of parasites with no heroes whatsoever, and still manage to create credit, share, brag about it and earn the people’s praise. Now that, is the epitome of “Perception is Reality”.

One loophole, It takes a moron to follow a moron. We are breeding a culture of morons, where finding a single hero to inject in a team of losers is becoming virtually impossible.

Those morons are the people who established the rule of “There is no “I” in Team”. Why? Because they’re right. There can’t be an “I” in a team of morons. There can only be one entity of assimilated pea-sized brains who managed to find salt-grain-sized brains to lure!

The others – those who refuse to be morons, to be lured… or ruled by morons – have discovered a higher universal truth: “The Perception of Perception-is-Reality”, and simply refuse to be assimilated.

There are many “I” in every team where success is measured by the power of synergy, and how reality becomes perception. And there is not one single “I” in a team where success is measured by its perception rather than its reality.

©2011 Ibrahim N. Lahoud


Brand Promise my a**!

When was the las time a “Fast pain relief” medicine relieved your pain fast?

When was the last time a “30% whiter” detergent actually made your laundry 30% whiter?

When was the last time a “we care for you” outlet made you feel it cared for you?

When was the last time a “we try harder” car rental made you feel they even tried a bit?

When was the last time an “I’m loving it” made you really love it?

Oh wait, wait, here’s the best: When was the last time a “growing your potential” bank actually made your potential grow?! When they can’t even protect the heritage they “use and abuse” to sell new products and services?!

You work hard on designing a wonderful logo, a great-looking stationery, pay a copywriter to crack this amazing tagline, a top-notch architect to design your office and outlets, and…?

And what?

If this is how these people treat their husbands and wives, no wonder divorce rates are sky-rocketing!!

Which part of “Brand Promise” don’t these guys get?

Just to refresh their memory:

A brand does all it does for one sole aim, keep its promise. That’s how brands make money. A brand’s equity lies within its promise. A brand’s life is defined by how it keeps its promise… Just like a marriage!

So, to those luminaries who think that a nice looking logo with a cute catch line makes a brand, I say: No wonder you still think a bimbo (excuse my French) on a street corner is a bachelor bank manager looking for a date!

I got news for you: your clients and prospects are no as lame as you think. You can’t take them for a ride anymore. No sir! They know what a false promise is. Ask their respective spouses! 😉

Let’s not hide behind our fingers. Here it is straight in your face: When you break a promise, you are a liar! When your brand breaks its promise, it is as much a liar!

The thing is when you break your promise, you could, I repeat “could” try to patch things up, apologize, reverse the damage, and all it would cost you is a something like a lunch. When a brand breaks its promise and needs or tries to patch things up… Think, just think of the damages, and the costs involved in trying, I repeat “trying” and fix it!

Loosing credibility means losing the trust of followers. And when credibility and trust are wasted, what would a brand rely on to make others believe it is really sorry for not keeping its promise? This is the vicious loop a brand is stuck in when it does not keep its promise. That’s one vicious loop which, like a maelstrom, will keep dragging the brand down into the abyss of oblivion.

Some might argue, how could big famous brands break their promise? They’re doing great. Well… They are… sort of! But big brands are not always about the U.S. or Europe… Are they?

Look at big brands in Lebanon. “I’m not loving it” at all. No one really “tries harder”, and for heaven’s sake, don’t convince me that anyone really “cares for me”.

Big brands should start looking at small territories. Our notion of customer service over here is from another planet. Big brands with branches or franchises in Lebanon should keep a close eye on their outposts. When I am not satisfied, I will hate THE brand, not the branch! So finally, big brands are more at risk in smaller territories.

Now look at local brands, their promises, and how they keep them! I’ll tell you how: Like politicians! That’s how!

The equation is simple: Brand -> Promise -> Customer -> Friendship -> Loyalty.

And as the saying goes, “A chain is as strong as its weakest link!”

So, don’t say it, Just Do It, Try Harder to Care for Me. It will be the Fastest Pain Relief, allowing me to Grow My Potential. And that’s how I’m Loving It, Having It My Way!!!

©2010 Ibrahim Lahoud


I learned… Fine, now what?

The difference between information and knowledge is so huge; so much that actually few people standing on one end manage to see the other. Let me tell you, information is nothing. Information is what you do with it, and what you do with it is called knowledge.

So, in my last entry of 2010, I wrote about what I learned, basic information, utterly useless unless I make something out of it. I have been gazing at that entry for a while, pondering upon what knowledge I could juice out of it. Being a branding professional, I reached the following conclusion:

Based on a recent poll I published on my blog, 67.5 of the respondents believe that People are the most crucial asset of a Nation Brand. This is information. Then I asked “people” to tell me what, according to them, people could do to enhance a nation brand. That’s knowledge.

I’m still an ignorant… No one answered.

Here’s the insight. As much as we think that people make nation brands, nations also stamp people’s brands. Tell me where you live, I’ll tell you who you are. Personal branding finally, is a reflection of a bigger collective microcosm, one that encapsulates the characteristics of the bigger picture, be it a family, organization or country.

Every time you get a job in a new company, the first thing you are taught is the culture of that company as well as its values and code of conduct. You are clearly asked to subscribe to these beliefs, adopt them and strictly abide by them. If you have your “own” personal branding, does this make you schizophrenic?

Undeniably, being part of a family, we get imprinted by its core values and culture when developing our own personal brand. Same applies to the country we live in. So finally, personal branding is not “that” personal after all.

In a country like Lebanon, our personal brand is constantly pulled and pushed between family, work, politics, religion, our own vision of our brand, and… fear. Now brand this!

We’re constantly asked why don’t we do something about it! They simply don’t realize that we did. We did the unimaginable!

Lebanese are personal branding gurus. Name one country living under the constant specter of war and that manages to con the world about being a safe haven… And make it work.

Name one country where the religious divide is so wide, and yet manages to export the highest surface of naked skin, be the hero on Fashion TV, and become so degenerate that it succeeds morphing anyone into a singing celebrity.

Name one country that relatively lives under the poverty line and where a thyme pie still sells for a dollar or more, and where expensive fine cuisine outweighs casual dining or even fast food.

Name one country where people can manage at the same time to look richer than Wall Street, and stupider than a Bradypus Tridactylus. Go ahead, look it up if you don’t fall under this category!

The bottom line, we succeeded at creating a halo, a bubble that projects this wild image of Lebanon and Lebanese. It worked great, in a way. We still have to find a way to influence the news. Yup! That’s a tough one, but if we managed to sell ourselves as the lighthouse of the East without even having electricity, we could crack this one I guess.

The drawback, we live in a lie, one hell of a big lie. We are simply not who we pretend to be. We are not a safe haven, we are not safe from the religious divide, we are not above the poverty line, and we are not as smart as the amount of money we gather. So, for how long can we manage to live this charade and make others live it?

This, is knowledge.

The power of branding resides in consistency and sustainability, and we’re defeating both purposes. It’s true we’re doing a good job for now, but seriously, for how long? You know the Arabic saying that translates: “The rope of lies is short”? Well guess what? It is.

Branding is also about viability, not survivability. This might come as a surprise to the Lebanese who are more used to the latter…

Why do we create a brand? Let alone a personal brand? To sell… Duuuh! And what is selling all about? Creating a brand. Nice loop, no? Yep, quite nice until you realize that the golden assets of a brand are honesty and transparency. Hehe, yeah two more words we, Lebanese have a serious problem with… Ok, ok, let’s stick to branding.

So, consistency, sustainability, viability, honesty and transparency, that’s what a brand is all about! Can you handle that?

So that’s what I learned, and that’s fine.

I’m so consistent I’m almost boring!

I’m so sustainable I’m good for the environment!

I am viable. Ask my friends.

I am honest… Read my blog.

I am transparent… ummm… Read my blog!

Now what?!

I hate to disappoint you, but I’ll keep learning, because where some brag about the knowledge they don’t have, I’ll settle for the information I seek. You see, although Personal Branding is not that personal, still the most important word in personal branding is “personal”.


Nation Identity Poll Result

Ok. Here are the official results of the Nation Identity Poll. The poll has been ongoing for almost 2 months.

As you can see, most of the voters chose People as the primary catalyst for a Nation brand. This was followed by Communication.

Here’s my question: What do you think People and / or  Communication should project or achieve in order to help build the right Nation brand? Why do you think the other options scored so low?

Please feel free to comment and give your opinion. After all, if you strongly believe in people being the driver, then you, the people, should state why! Right?… Right!


[RTB] 2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 7,800 times in 2010. That’s about 19 full 747s.


In 2010, there were 67 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 148 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 11mb. That’s about 3 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was November 2nd with 277 views. The most popular post that day was Of driving and drivers. Another nail in Brand Lebanon coffin.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for hospital sign, hospital branding, ibrahim lahoud blog, brand lebanon, and ibrahim lahoud.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Of driving and drivers. Another nail in Brand Lebanon coffin November 2010
27 comments and 1 Like on,


The Pale Blue Dot June 2010


Care before cure. Hospital branding in a heartbeat August 2010


Lebanon, the Internet and literacy September 2010


Facebook, the good, the bad and the ugly profile pic! September 2010


January 2011

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Reason To Believe by Ibrahim N. Lahoud is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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