Brand Essence and Positioning Workshops.

BrandingDo you have questions about your advertising? Do you have ‘a brand’ or just ‘a product’? Marketing not hitting the mark? Do you need a communications audit or just need some creative direction?

Today everyone thinks they know what a “brand” is … They look at; Coke, Pepsi, Nike, Adidas, BMW, Virgin, Ford, Honda, Sony, BMG, Marvel, Pixar, Vegemite, Schweppes and stacks more and feel they know that brand’s story – but these are surely just products. Some people consider themselves “brands” by definition or by celebrity – Prince, Calvin Klein, Moss, Elle, Jet Li, Jackie Chan, Trump, Branson, Clint Eastwood, Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Russell Crowe, Snoopy, Tin Tin, Superman and the Avengers Just to name a few.

But what is the difference between having a “brand” or just having a garden variety “product”. Why is achieving a “brand” status such a powerful thing?

In my workshops I will break down the meaning behind some of the best know brands and highlight the systematic thinking that helps you understand the dynamics between advertising and marketing. There are subtle differences between the strategies of advertising and the strategies of marketing, often people think that these are one in the same or a bi-product of each other. It’s a little more complex than that. Plus when egos and agendas get in the way products and business suffer. Advertising and Marketing are often and can be very different in approach yet have the same aim – sell the product!

Understanding why different approaches are needed and when to employ these approaches and what approaches take a bigger role in building brand can confuse even the most seasoned advertising person or marketing person.  Sometimes, it’s like “what comes first the chicken or the egg?”

What I try to do in my workshops is break down communications, messages, marketing and advertising and look at the driving forces behind either a client’s brand, a business product or service, or even an individual person. You soon become acutely aware of the power of advertising and the role of marketing, especially in a room full of major stakeholders passionate about their products. But what is really important and equally empowering is guiding that room to find their true “Brand Essence”.


“I’m quite proficient at writing for my clients, but when it came to developing my own promotional material I was blocked. Thank the universe for Myke Mollard. Myke got to know my needs and wants before submitting a draft that said everything I was struggling to write. He captured the essence of who I am and what I want Emerging Woman to be seen as. At the same time he was working on the graphic design of flyers, business cards, banners and anything else I needed to totally re-brand my business. I am blown away with his talent that encompasses design, copy, and advertising and business strategy. I am so excited about launching the new look and feel of Emerging Woman. Thank you Myke for giving me a brand I identify with and am immensely proud of.”

– Pamela, Emerging Woman, Business Owner and Public Speaker.


It’s funny but once you understand “Brand Essence”, suddenly a whole room discovers the galvanising nature of “Branding”. It’s like a penny dropping in everyone’s head. Stakeholders start working together on a single proposition, with regards to all future communications. Everyone sees how to effectively build that brand – the brand vision is realised and it all becomes apparent.

The art of finding “the essence” of your product and why your customer picks yours over another competitors, can be understood and adapted immediately, but takes years to learn and confidently facilitate. Once you have found your “Brand Essence”, everything starts to make sense, you simplify the playing field and change the way you approach things. Their is this deep connection made that opens a way for greater sales, clearer vision, better communications, stronger marketplace positioning, more effective marketing, braver more confident advertising – Every participant will come away understanding how to move a product from the ordinary to being an extra-ordinary “brand” within a given marketplace.

How important is this “Branding” to your business? Well without sounding like every other public speaker or guru, I personally believe it’s “essential.” At least, to understand the principals behind “Brand essence” and investigate the driving forces behind why people are buying your product or are not buying your product. Hell! You don’t even have to have a problem. You could have the market leading product and service and still get ground-breaking knowledge out of a Brand Essence Workshop. The beauty of these workshops is you can do it every few years as markets change, staff move on and products evolve.

Brand Essence workshops help sales teams, major stakeholders, managers to work together at building your brand or drive your business better. It’s a fantastic way to get “buy in” from key positions of management, so they can agree on a future vision and a creative direction without personal agendas and ego eroding your business objectives from within.

Brand Essence is about finding the core motivating factor that underpins your business success and your creates a single-minded proposition to take your business into the future.

The second part of this process is the more aggressive and more robust strategies of positioning. Positioning comes after Brand essence is established and focuses on developing a brand position or an ‘edge’. It helps stakeholders create an ‘impact’ or employ communications that ‘cut through’ in this modern, over communicated marketplace. The workshop will endeavor to position your products and brands for better visibility, more positive advertising outcomes and unlock greater market potential.

With plenty of experience to draw upon for the best part of 20 years, and still helping clients achieve better communications. I have designed and tailored Wildfire Professional Workshops off tried and true advertising methodologies – delivering old school strategies combined with new school thinking. Each workshop will be individually designed to suit your business needs and tailored to steer your business, product or brand image into more effective communications. I personally feel it’s the perfect solution for a business that doesn’t want to commit to a large agency, but wants “the edge” over it’s competitors.

There are three styles of Wildfire Professional Workshops that I facilitate:

  • brand essence and brand positioning workshops or focus groups.
  • communication audits, creative presentations or just consultancy.
  • creative direction made simple for small and large businesses.

If you wish to give your business a new direction or take a different approach, consider a workshop or session.

I am open to discuss any Wildfire Professional Workshop and explore how I can help your company or business grow. Just simply call or email me.

Teaching kids to draw is great fun.

18lrSt. Kilda Village “Stripfest” was a great event from my perspective. 25 families joined me across the day and like these two in the picture above did some amazing drawings.

I enjoyed talking about animals, teaching kids to draw through simple shapes and lines and exploring interesting and different facts about the animals we drew. The kids have lots of questions and I seemed to answer them all, offering either a story or a simple fact. Most importantly, both adults and kids had a real “red hot go” at my Wildfire Workshop. It shows in their executions and, I believe, most could say they were happy with their results or even “surprised themselves”. That’s the beauty of teaching or tutoring skill-based classes – you have this opportunity to leave a lasting and positive impression on all who attend.

“Stripfest” was truly, real great fun! You can normally tell by the amount of questions the whole room has. The amount of noise and interaction that the day is a success and overflowing with fun. Thanks for the invite Vikki and Lucy and the St.Kilda Ecocentre, you left a warm memory and I hope to visit again soon. So sharper your pencils and keep drawing kids – I’ll be back.


Wildfire Workshop at Stripfest 2013.

Stripfest 1St.Kilda Village will be presenting Stripfest – it’s not what you think! Festival.

Storytelling and Drawing sessions for kids

Date August 25th.
Time Sessions will run from 11 – 12:30 and 2 – 3:30
The Venue Port Phillip Eco Centre,
Location 55A Blessington St, St Kilda

To give anyone wishing to bring the kids and join me on these sessions, a heads up …
I will be doing a storytelling and drawing workshop for kids and as a wildlife illustrator there will be an eco-bent on it. The theme this year I heard was cake so I could have something up my sleeve for this workshop.

I amd really looking forward to it, the WE LOVE LIFE FESTIVAL was great fun in the gardens earlier this year. So I hope to see you all there Sunday.


A Few Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s).

cropped-Ainslieparklands-ps-preptalk2.jpgKids love Questions. I could fill a few hours answering questions. So to avoid a few common ones coming up I tried my best to share some past and present conversations. One of my favourite Questions, commonly asked when doing talks, is a variation of this one from Raymond.


“You look like Jack Black from Rock School, are you any relation?”

– Raymond, Level 5. Ainslie Parklands Primary School.


When does Myke get his best ideas?

At the oddest times.

Driving a car, shaving, in the shower, while cooking dinner, on the toilet, just before bed, while snorkelling or just day dreaming in the park. On the train, definitely while zoned out on the train.

What’s more important, the writing or the pictures?

I learnt as an art director in advertising doing television commercials. You turn the sound off to see if the visual works and you close your eyes and see if the soundtrack works. With books it very important to balance both well – “It’s the marriage between the two, writing and illustrations.”

How does anyone start an illustrated book?

Write, scribble, plan and draw. Write, scribble, sketch and draw. Jot notes, use sticky notes, write, plan, scribble, sketch and draw. Slowly the work will reveal itself. Slowly you build your book from the ground up.

If in doubt Brainstorm some ideas with friends.

What occupies Myke’s mind when he works?

Day dreams and more day dreams. Myke has always been a dreamer.

For more FAQ’s Please visit Myke’s page, which is crammed full of questions and answers from Myke.

Debunking the Tracing Taboo

In my day, as I was growing up, my art teachers collectively despised tracing or the use of tracing paper. It was a form of copying or not seen as art.  It was to be used on school projects to accurately trace maps for assignments on the Roman army or the battle of Hastings. Boring factual stuff that had no real importance except to illustrate the mundane.

This thinking never sat with me very well. I always thought that Walt Disney animators would have constantly traced their cells and drawings to achieve emotional, fluid and seamless movements. So if animators trace why can’t we? I utilised the magic of tracing paper for many drawings and artistic projects. The way I saw it, was tracing paper was used in film development, cell animation and industrial design. If these commercial art forms employed it to produce their art why couldn’t I. But hey! I was probably 6-8 at the time, I had these rebellious thoughts, and if I dared air them to my teacher I’d be told off. So tracing paper remained my secret weapon in developing my drawings to a higher standard before I could draft the shapes with more adult precision.

One of my favourite things as a kid was watch the early morning cartoons. My parents had just discovered video recording and I was lucky enough to have one of the first ‘National’ brand of video recorders. So what I actually started doing was recording my favourite cartoons and anime and pausing the frames I liked. Then with tracing paper I’d stick the paper to the television glass screen and trace my favourite characters. It taught me heaps about foreshortening, dramatic perspectives, caricatures and how to create comic eyes.

What I learnt from this is that we don’t innately understand perspective. Our hand-to-eye coordination doesn’t immediately know or understand how to etcher-sketch this reality to paper. All people have to practice the art of drawing to have any capacity.  We have to teach ourselves how to translate the spacious 3 dimensional world we see into the 2 dimensional world we draw on paper.

So lets take a drawing or a printed photograph. In one instance the artist and in the other the camera has already “flattened” the perspective and 3 dimensional space into a 2 dimensional image in which you can trace. The simple act of tracing is a great exercise (e.g. like cutting with scissors, colouring in and pasting collage) to hone the motor skills required in drawing. Funny enough it has no difference to normal drawing, still life or life drawing, albeit your subject matter rests under your sheet of paper not out in front of your easel. So by negating the changing in perspective or position of our head, that confuses the brain, when we look at an object and then look down to see our hand draw that object we suddenly just have to neatly trace the object underlying the page or tracing paper. This will give our hand confidence and help it understand the observational complexities need later when drawing from life.

Tracing in my opinion is an important first step in developing great hand-to-eye coordination. Tracing should be an essential exercise in mastering your drawing ability. All children should be encouraged to trace. In some ways, you have to learn how to crawl before you walk and definitely before you learn how to run.

Tracing should never be seen as a taboo. It should be an essential building block or tool in the pursuit of learning how-to-draw.

Snake tracing_step1

Step 1: Choose the best drawing you wish to trace. Something easy or something difficult – take your pick.

Snake tracing_step2


Step 2: Place tracing paper over the top. To stop the paper from moving use some tape. But be mindful if using library books as some tapes can deface and rip the pages or paper.

Snake tracing_step3



Step 3: Look for the best details. the ones that translate a photo to a strong line drawing.

Snake tracing_step4Step 4: Finish your tracing off hopefully without moving the tracing paper too much.

After you are finished a tracing you can use a soft graphite pencil scribble all over the underside of the tracing paper and then place the paper on some nice art paper. Then redraw your traced image. The pressure of the drawing will transfer your image neatly down on the new page. Then you have a great starting point to develop a new drawing.

But that’s another lesson.



The Importance of Creativity and Art Eduction.

Teaching kids to be confident at drawing and illustrating is really important for communication, project building, improving assignments, enhancing homework. Now more than ever with computers, programs like Powerpoint, having a good sense of design and presentation is vital for kids to get ahead, thrive and become better students.

Not to mention, how much more fun is classwork or homework when drawings and creative play are involved.

Some people may think illustrating, drawing and graphics are just ‘needless child’s play’. Recent trends in America and China suggest that art is being phased out for economics, marketing, social media, computer studies and more academic studies. Why? When art and this type of education is an important part of a child’s learning. Art helps build creative thinking, independent thought processes, it can settle troubled kids and much more.

MBG_2600Sometimes the simplest things like colouring in properly or using scissors well can hold a child’s self-esteem back. Learning the right way and having fun with it unlocks these trivial mental road blocks. Sometimes it can open the class up to all sorts of artistic creations, colours, and most importantly taking some pride in their work.

Art education is nothing new, and the benefits are so important for building academic confidence, social confidence, enhancing focus, self-discipline and developing the ability of what might be.

Now how many teachers feel they can draw well? How many employ hand-drawn pictures in their classrooms? How many teachers “Packed up” their drawing skills when a fellow student teased them about their creativity?

Art education is vital and learning about things through drawing is a brilliant way to learn. Mind mapping, brainstorming, storytelling, designing, exploring through words, pictures and sounds uses the full palette of expression. This is why Wildfire Workshops works! The simple power of these workshops impacts on both the children and the teachers. Learning “how-to-draw” better empowers kids to do better and try harder. It galvanises their resolve and they enjoy applying themselves.

I like to think I’m no ordinary facilitator. I try to keep it fresh, powerful and kids love the lessons. Whether its my encyclopedic brain of knowledge, hundreds of mini stories, a fun, comical approach, stacks of real life references or loads of experience with delivering these workshops. Whether a class of 25 or the whole school, I will always try to deliver wildfire workshops – aptly named to catch on. The sessions take drawing, and teaching kids that value of drawing in our everyday lives, to a whole new level.

After 20 years in advertising as a creative, at least six years as a children’s book author and illustrator, I hope I can say I understand the importance of creativity, individual perception and perspective these attributes are keys to developing healthy life skills. They help us build robust and adaptable personalities, compassionate thoughtful students and confident self starters. Art is a powerful tool in building kids self-esteem and I hope my flamboyant, warm and encouraging manner sees most students rise to the challenge and surprise themselves. It’s so empowering for me to see what a simple pen and blank sheet of paper can deliver. The kids are always full of surprises and they surprise me with their depth, warmth, skills and interpretations.

In hindsight, I think most will agree, that it’s so important that kids learn to be confident with their creativity. It’s so beneficial when a class shares the problem solving in attempting to draw a platypus, a kangaroo, or even speed drawing a ninja Koala for fun!



A taste of things to come

“Every wildfire starts with a spark.”

It’s my creative vision to inspire kids of all ages to take an interest in preserving our native wildlife. This is Australia’s living heritage, and the way I would like to do this is through art education and engaging workshops. Wildfire Workshops have a big yet uplifting vision to spark a child’s imagination and at the same time:

•   Inspire the love of reading and books through illustration and storytelling.

•  Encourage the love of drawing through teaching simple easy-to-follow techniques
– discovering the ability to draw is like a second language within us all.

•  Innovate by using traditional means to achieve fantastic digital ends.

•  Endeavour to produce works of wondrous imagination and visual dexterity.

•  Educate and highlight the plight of our endangered bush creatures while
creatively exploring Australia’s unique natural beauty through art.