Episode 1: 2019 Trends

Behold our totally unedited, augural podcast! Here, Najat, KRC & Mer are let loose on audience, media and content trends we think will shape 2019. From podcasting to authenticity; media polarization to next gen human connection, we gather around our crystal ball and reveal what we see…

World Mental Health Day: Smashing through stigma and making tough conversations easier

Mental health. It’s a prickly subject, to say the least. Despite the fact that we’re in 2018, hushed tones, awkward glances and uncomfortable shuffling often prevail whenever the topic of mental health is broached.

Wednesday October 10 is World Mental Health Day. Let’s take a moment to examine what we can do, as friends, colleagues and neighbors, to… well… to talk about it!

Let’s start with the basics. What do we mean when we say mental health?

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices. Mental health is not the same as mental illness (although they are both equally important issues).

In this post, we’ll examine the ways that we can notice and nurture our collective mental health, specifically within the workplace, as well as shed light on some progressive initiatives taking place here in the UAE and MENA region.

  1. Reduce the stigma.

If we are to effectively tackle the issue of mental health in the workplace, it needs to be ok for people to say they’re not ok. Seemingly small steps can make a big difference. For example, put the issue of mental health on meeting agendas; pause when you ask ‘how are you?’ in the corridor and genuinely listen to the response; take the time to grab a coffee or a bite to eat. Enable the conversation and encourage thought-sharing.

2. Be brave. Be a change agent.

Given that mental health is not a widely acknowledged topic, it can be difficult to know what is “standard procedure” if you like. Colleagues and friends may feel that they are being intrusive, or over-stepping the mark, by taking a proactive interest in others’ mental health. We challenge you to take it on as a personal mission to normalize the acknowledgment, discussion and support of mental health issues.

3. Pay attention.

Now while this might be stating the obvious, it’s true. Mental health is a complex, largely misunderstood topic; symptoms are not always obvious and in reality most cases go undetected, unacknowledged or misjudged. It is common for sufferers to generalise and underestimate their symptoms, or hide them from others entirely. As a consequence, it is important that, for example, employers remain proactive, observant and knowledgeable. Lateness, changes in mood, work performance, a dishevelled appearance, or misplaced euphoria may all be indicators that someone is struggling with their mental health. Don’t be too quick to judge either way but rather, be open minded and thoughtful in your approach. Check in with your people 🙂

What is being done locally?

Steps are being taken both locally and globally to address the issue. In October last year the Dubai Health Authority announced its “Happy Lives, Healthy Communities” strategy. The initiative is designed to help combat the rising issue of people suffering from poor mental health by “removing the stigma attached to it and empowering the patient”.

At the Dubai Lynx Festival of Creativity, earlier this year, The Marketing Society hosted the first brave panel discussion on the topic, with the aim of starting the conversation in the region, on a public stage. They’re following it up with a panel on Being Brave About Mental Health, on October 30.

Khaled Ismail, Chairman of The Marketing Society’s Middle East chapter said: “Mental heath, or as I like to refer to it – Mental Well-Being – affects us all profoundly, with implications that range from personal and social health to national economics. As an industry, we need to not just talk about it, we need to act and continue to create awareness. I encourage you to join us for an upcoming brave conversation on Mental Health on Oct. 30 with Geoff McDonald, Executive Director of Open Minds Health and former Global Vice President HR for Marketing, Communications, Sustainability and Talent, Unilever.”

Click here to RSVP and find out more.

Cool stuff is also happening here in the tech space, in this region. Dubai-based entrepreneurs Mat Schramm and Jules Scholten have launched www.Talkcircle.com, an online portal that connects people to international licensed psychologists and psychotherapists via video and text therapy.

“Our goal is improve life satisfaction in the GCC, by making therapy easily accessible to more people. We want to reduce the stress that many face when it comes to the logistics, finance and perceived stigma associated with receiving support” said Mat Schramm.

Brave steps are being taken and now, we need you. Share your thoughts, write articles, get involved and most importantly… check in with your people.

We’ll leave you with this thought. Depression, anxiety, panic attacks and all other outward displays of someone struggling with their mental health are not a sign of weakness. They’re signs of strength under the pressure of endurance.

How to make your content sing on social media

When it comes to content on social, it’s essential to get it right. And getting it right means paying attention to what content goes where. It’s not a one size fits all scenario anymore; content must be crafted to suit each platform and an understating of the nuances and algorithms of each one will ensure your content performs to its full potential.

We’ve put together the Bravo Best Practice, some tips and tricks to help you become content masters across the most popular social networks. In this post, we focus on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.



TWITTER: How do you create tweets that spark conversations and keep your audience engaged?

  1. Keep it short. A concise tweet makes an impact
  2. Show up everyday. The Twitter algorithm rewards accounts that consistently post and engage with their audience. Twitter is a content funnel that is constantly refreshed, so it’s important to make an appearance at least once a day
  3. A hive of activity. Get involved in the conversation and make sure your Twitter usage is not just limited to your own tweets. Reply, mention, quote, like and retweet to ensure your brand stays visible and a relevant part of the conversation, throughout the day
  4. Audience-centric algorithm. In addition to rewarding engagement, the algorithm also favors accounts that are credible. Keep your info up to date and purge spam followers on a regular basis. Likewise, be sure to follow credible, relevant accounts that relate to your subjects of conversation
  5. #DontOverDoIt. Don’t clutter tweets with lots of hashtags, stick to one or two key relevant hashtags and if you want to mention more, split the content over two tweets

INSTAGRAM: How do you create posts that make your brand sing and inspire your audience?

  1. Quality over quantity. Instagram is valued for its beautifully styled content. Never post just for the sake of posting and if you have something you really want to talk about – but no content ready that’s up to the arguably overstyled standard – use ‘Stories’!
  2. Stories on the fly. Following on from the point above, Stories is the perfect place for quick or “natural” content as there is no need to maintain a curated aesthetic, as is the case of your main feed
  3. Be consistent. Work out a posting schedule and stick to it. Don’t post everyday for a week and then disappear. One post a day is considered standard, however posting 3 times a week is also fine as the algorithm will display content that is several days old (unlike on Twitter)
  4. Understanding the algorithm. The Instagram algorithm regards responsive accounts that consistently engage with their audience. Ask questions, use polls, respond to users and your content will be considered higher quality by the algorithm   
  5. Speed matters. If your post gets a lot of likes and comments shortly after it’s posted, this signals to the Instagram algorithm that your post is quality content, so the post will get shown to even more of your followers
  6. #ToExpandYourReach. Accompany your visuals with relevant hashtags to make your brand discoverable to a wider audience


LinkedIn: How to stand out on the world’s largest professional network?

  1. Publish consistently. Like any community of professionals, your LinkedIn network thrives on interaction. Keep your network engaged by being active on the platform daily, even when you’re not posting new content
  2. More than meets the eye. Content with high engagement will be analyzed by LinkedIn staff and potentially opened up to a wider audience. On LinkedIn your content may be shared with your 2nd and 3rd-degree network, depending on your level of engagement
  3. Play to the platforms strengths. Create useful, informative content. Native content takes precedence over links to other sites
  4. Many ways to engage. Find and follow influencers, connect with companies, and join LinkedIn Groups. Tag strategically – but sincerely – when you quote or talk about an influential person in your content (but be careful on this point and don’t over do it).
  5. Peer power. Get endorsements and recommendations from clients/partners who can speak credibly about your abilities and contributions. This will help catch the eye of prospective customers and/or employers
  6. We are family. Ensure your company appears vibrant and engaged on LinkedIn by encouraging employees to add themselves as employees of your company page
  7. Analytics to your advantage. Monitor your progress with LinkedIn analytics. This powerful tool helps you see how your content is doing and where you can improve

So there you have it folks, our how-to guide for three of our favourite social platforms. Stay tuned next week as we dive into Facebook, Snapchat and YouTube.

Featured image credit: Debby Hudson on Unsplash

5 office hacks we can’t live without.

  1. Slack.

We admit it, we’re addicted to Slack. We love this tool and find it essential to our day-to-day operations in the office. Slack is in (very) simple terms is Whatsapp for the workplace. But in reality it’s so much more than that. You can integrate it with your dropbox, Google Drive, set up specific channels for different projects/groups of people and much more.

Oh and their explainer video is just the best, which gets them extra points from us.

      2. Uber Conference

This site is particularly useful if you live in a part of the world where Skype is not available and you rely heavily on video conference for remote meetings. The free version of this allows conference calls and screen sharing, while the paid version allows video calling as well. We do advise you make sure that other participants get the timing of the call spot-on though, otherwise the hold music will drive you crazy.

      3. Weekly debate club

What started as a way for us to make sure we all proactively stay on top of industry news, technology advances and other relevant information has turned into the highlight of our week in the office. From an educational POV, the nature of a debate means that we all have to thoroughly research and really understand the subject matter ahead of the session. This means we’re all reading more, sharing more and having more conversations. (Amazing what a little gamification can do, isn’t it?). What’s more, is that our debate club has evolved into a sacred half an hour of social time where we all leave our laptops and gather round for the discussion. It’s where we really bond as a team, share ideas, shout at each other and have a LOT of laughs.

Image from iOS (6)

       4. Whiteboards

As integrated marketing communications strategists, we often have to navigate a maze of thoughts and ideas before we find our path and for this, we find that a good scribble can often save hours of brain crunching. We’re lucky in our office to have large glass surfaces attached to all the walls on which we can host discussions, write up thought starters or share quotes that resonate with us. But don’t let a lack of surface area deter you – a good old fashioned pen and paper works just as well!

     5. Timesheets

We know. Yawn, right? But seriously, since implementing our time sheet system we find we’re so much more productive cause we can see where our hours are being spent. It also means we have a clear indication of when projects run over and we know we’ve not allowed for enough hours, allowing us to be more efficient in future.

Do you have an awesome office hack that you would add to this list? Hit us up in the comments and let’s swap secret weapons!

اليوم العالمي للصحة العقلية: تحطيم حاجز الخجل وفتح باب الحوار

الصحة العقلية موضوع شائك وحساس ان صح التعبير. على الرغم من وصولنا عام 2018  إلى ان في كل مرة يطرح فيها موضوع الصحة العقلية يسود الجو الربكة وعدم الارتياح  والتساؤلات الغريبة.

الأربعاء 10 أكتوبر هو اليوم العالمي للصحة العقلية. دعونا نقف للحظة لمعرفة ما يمكننا القيام به كأصدقاء، زملاء وجيراناو في الحقيقة لنقف لحظة للحديث عنه!

لنبدأ بالأساسيات، ما الذي نعنيه بالصحة العقلية؟

عندما نتحدث عن الصحة العقلية نعني مدى صحتنا العاطفية والنفسية وكذلك مدى حسن  تعاملنا مع الاخرين في حياتنا الاجتماعية. تؤثر الصحة العقلية على طريقة تفكيرنا وحقيقة شعورنا وتصرفاتنا في الحياة اليومية مع تحملنا للإجهاد العالي، وكذلك تؤثر على روابطنا الاجتماعية والقدرة على اتخاذ القرارات. الصحة العقلية  والأمراض العقلية حالتين مختلفتين تماماً بالرغم تساوي الأهمية.

في هذا المقال، سنبحث عن الطرق التي يمكن من خلالها ملاحظة ورعاية الصحة العقلية بشكل جماعي، وتحديداً في بيئة العمل، بالإضافة إلى تسليط الضوء على بعض المبادرات الرائدة التي تجري في الشرق الوسط وكذلك هنا في دولة الإمارات العربية المتحدة.

إزالة وصمة الخجل

إذا أردنا معالجة مسألة الصحة العقلية بفعالية في بيئة العمل، يجب ان يكون من الطبيعي للناس ان يخبرونا بإنهم ليسوا بخير اذا كانوا كذلك وان لايشعروا بالخجل من ذلك. من الواضح ان الخطوات الصغيرة تحدث فرقا كبيرا لحل المسألة، وعلى سبيل المثال ضع موضوع الصحة العقلية في اجندة الاجتماعات: توقف للحظة عندما تسأل زميلاًكيف حالك؟واستمع بصدق إلى الاجابة بينما تحتسون كوب القهوة أو تتناولون وجبة خفيفة معاً وبذلك نقوي التواصل ونشجع تبادل الافكار.

كن شجاعا. كن صانع التغيير

بالنظر إلى أن الصحة العقلية ليست امر معترف به على نطاق واسع. فقد يكون من الصعب معرفة ما هو (المعيار الطبيعي) للقياس ولإتخاذ الاجراءات اللازمة اذا صح التعبير. وقد يشعر الزملاء والأصدقاء أنهم متطفلون أو انهم يتجاوزون حدودهم بالإهتمام بصحة الآخرين العقلية. إننا ندعوك أن تأخذها كمهمة شخصية على عاتقك لجعل الاعتراف بالصحة العقلية ومناقشتها امر طبيعي وكذلك ان تدعم قضايا الصحة العقلية.

اعطي الاهتمام اللازم

قد يكون ذلك بديهي صحيح، لكن الصحة العقلية موضوع معقد يساء فهمه إلى حد كبير ؛ الأعراض لاتكون واضحة دائما وفي الواقع معظم الحالات تمضي دون أن يكتشفها أحد او يعترف بها أو قد يساء تقديرها. من الشائع أن يعمم المصابون الأعراض، يقللون من شأنها أو يخفونها عن الآخرين تماماً. بناء على ذلك من المهم أن يظل أصحاب العمل مبادرين ومتفهمين. وعلى سبيل المثال قد يكون التأخر أو تقلبات المزاج أو ضعف الأداء أو المظهر الاشعث أو الحماسة المبالغ فيها في غير محلها مؤشرات على أن شخصاً ما قد يعاني من صحته العقلية. لا تكن سريع في الحكم بل كن منفتحاً وواعياً في اسلوبك. امعن النظر في من حولك 🙂

ما هي الاجراءات المتخذة محليا؟

يجري اتخاذ خطوات على الصعيدين المحلي والعالمي لمعالجة هذه القضية. في شهر أكتوبر من العام الماضي، أعلنت هيئة الصحة بدبي عن إستراتيجية نحو مجتمع اكثر صحة وسعادة . وقد صممت المبادرة للمساعدة في مكافحة ارتفاع قضية ازدياد عدد اللأشخاص الذين يعانون من سوء الصحة العقلية من خلالإزالة الوصمة المرتبطة به ودعم المريض“.

في مهرجان دبي لينكس للإبداع مطلع هذا العام، استضافت (ماركتنج سوسايتي) أول حلقة نقاش جريئة في هذا الموضوع بهدف تشجيع بدء النقاش في المنطقة على مستوى جماهيري. سيتبعونها بحلقة اخرى تحفز الشجاعة في مواجهة قضية الصحة العقلية في الـ 30 من أكتوبر.

قال خالد إسماعيل رئيس مجلس إدارة شركة ماركتنج سوسايتي بـ الشرق الأوسطالصحة العقلية أو كما أحب أن أشير إليهاالسلامة العقليةتؤثر علينا جميعاً بشكل عميق، مع تبعات قد تمتد من الصحة الشخصية والاجتماعية إلى الاقتصاد الوطني. في نطاق المجال لا نحتاج إلى الحديث عن ذلك فقط بل نحن في حاجة إلى العمل والاستمرار في رفع الوعي.

ندعوكم إلى الانضمام إلينا في حلقة النقاش عن الصحة العقلية في الـ 30 من أكتوبر مع جيف ماكدونالد ، الرئيس التنفيذي لصحة العقل المنفتح  ونائب الرئيس العالمي للموارد البشرية السابق للتسويق والاتصالات والاستدامة والمواهب في يونيليفير . “

اضغط هنا RSVP  لتأكيد حضورك ومعرفة المزيد.

هناك المزيد من الامور الرائعة تحدث هنا في فضاء التكنولوجيا حيث قام رواد أعمال في دبي (مات شرام) و(جولس شولتن) باطلاق (تاك سيركلحلقة نقاش-) وهي بوابة إلكترونية تربط بين مستشارين مرخصين وخبراء في مجال الصحة من جميع أنحاء العالم.  

يتم الآن اتخاذ خطوات جريئة ونحن بحاجة لدعمك. شارك أفكارك ، اكتب مقالات ومنشورات ساهم معنا، والأهم من ذلكاهتم بمن حولك .

واخيراً لا يسعنا ان نؤكد على ان الاكتئاب والقلق ونوبات الهلع وكافة الاعراض الخارجية الأخرى التي تنتاب شخص يعاني من صحته العقلية ليست علامة على الضعف بل علامة على القوة في تحمل الضغط.

Featured Image Credit 


Is social media making us anti-social?

During our recent weekly “Debate Club for Nurds” session at Bravo Romeo HQ we discussed the subject of whether social media is making us more anti-social. The subject divided our group and a fierce debate ensued. In this blogpost, we’ll examine the arguments from both sides and we invite you to join our debate in the comments section.

In the beginning..

Whenever a new technology emerges that fundamentally changes the way we live, it generates debate over the nature of that change and whether it’s “good” or “bad.” In the 1800s, when a monumental communication revolution was taking place — the advent of the telephone – there were privacy fears, worries that people would listen to the phone conversations and face-to-face communication would be lost. Complaints abounded about unwanted calls and the annoyance of interruptions plagued even its inventor, Alexander Graham Bell, who refused to have a phone installed in his workroom. The phone was thought of as so intrusive that in 1890 Mark Twain wrote a Christmas card wishing all people rest and peace, except for the inventor of the telephone. And it is no different for technology that affects our communication today. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Youtube, and Twitter that have revolutionized the way human beings source information, communicate and interact with one another. In this blog we’ll be discussing the positive effects in terms of empowering and connecting people whilst conversely examining how they can be a platform for negative, and sometimes destructive, behavior.

What do we mean by “anti-social”?

Before we delve into the debate at hand, let’s begin by defining anti-social. Anti-social: not sociable; not wanting the company of others. Therefore, the affirmative camp in this debate argued, by very definition anti-social is a behavioral trait, rather than one caused by technology. On the other hand, does too much screen time lead to more and more of this anti-social behavior presenting itself in our society? After all human interaction is in our nature, it’s been part of the way we form relationships, build trust and for years has been our main channel of communication.

Enter social media. Now face-to-face interaction is not a must. You can do business, make friends, form relationships with people from all over the world and maintain them for years, without ever having met. However spending all this time texting, commenting and liking or sharing photos makes us feel that it’s much easier and faster to communicate with our friends online, rather than invite them over for a gathering, for instance. This in turn keeps us addicted to the newsfeed… and so the cycles continues.

While technology has undoubtedly made communication easier and given us a wider reach, there are concerns that excessive use of technology can be addictive. People crave validation and attention via their social posts, more so than they do via interactions with humans in real life. This addiction is reflected through consumer behavior with 27% of consumers admitting to checking their social networks as soon as they wake up, and 51% continuing to log in periodically throughout the day.

However it’s when addiction turns from a solitary indulgence into a straight up preference over human interaction that the debate really comes into its own. It’s hard not to be concerned when you see a group of people sitting together, each staring in his or her own smartphone constantly scrolling through their accounts. We’ve all seen it. Let’s be honest, we’ve all done it.

But just as with our earlier point around the advent of the telephone, this is not new. People have always found ways to communicate without human interaction, be it through newspapers, radio, even literature.


Image Credit

So, is social media to blame?

While there are convincing arguments for and against (and believe me we had a great time hashing it out together in the office!) our conclusion is no.

Social media has opened up a world of connectivity and conversation. People can keep in touch with others from all around the world, start discussions with groups they would never have met in real life, follow hashtags to surface different perspectives on the same issue. It helps alleviate the tyranny of distance, in some ways, and has accelerated global and local communication at speeds unattainable in the past. Since communication is the backbone of social interaction, we think it’s therefore wrong to say, out and out, that social media is making us anti-social. What do you think?

Featured Image Credit 

Generation Innovation: Why Gen Z is poised to hack the world, in the MENA region and beyond

Today’s young adult is different. Gen Z, born to digital-savvy parents and growing up in a world of technological accessibility, are our first true digital natives. For Gen Z, technology is as natural as oxygen, with connected devices prevalent within their lives since birth.

Unlike their Millennial counterparts, Gen Z have a realistic and practical worldview; they know that they have to make their own opportunities and be financially responsible. Industriousness, the ability to multi-task, resourcefulness, collaboration and entrepreneurship are hallmarks of this generation.

This blogpost will examine this generation’s social, cultural, political and economic outlook both regionally and globally, to reveal how they will hack the world to create a better future, powered by hyper connectivity and collaboration.

So what makes them so different?

To understand this generation, we must first understand the landscape that they have been raised in. To put it bluntly, Gen Z were born into a bleak world.


This generation have grown up through many brutal and harrowing global conflicts, the war on terrorism, the Arab spring to name but a few. And while overall conflict may have reduced since prior generations, this generation have unprecedented levels of exposure to the conflict in the world due to the access to media and technology, making them a lot more cognizant of it.


Climate change, global warming, species extinction and the finite resources are just a few of the worries around the environment. We’ve fallen into the routine of using far more of the earth’s resources than we could possibly ever replenish, and we don’t have a plan b for when they run out. The state of our planet is abhorrent and Gen Z hold past generations responsible.


Likewise, the economy has suffered greatly in recent years. Gen Z grew up with parents who lost jobs because of the credit crunch, watched Millennials graduate with Geography degrees that are no longer relevant and are now themselves faced with a housing market that is becoming more and more impenetrable to the youth.

red symbolsImage Credit: Matthew Brodeur

The Differentiators

With these grim factors at play, many would assume the youth to be ambivalent. But in fact, they are quite the opposite. While Millennials saw the Internet as a place for duck-faces and swiping right, Gen Z’s outlook is very different. Gen Z are resourceful, they see the internet as their secret weapon and want to use it to solve the worlds hardest problems. Gen Z want to challenge the status quo and fix the mistakes of generations gone by. Their outlook is optimistic, progressive and deeply collaborative.


At the heart of it all, lies technology. As we mentioned at the beginning of the piece, this generation are digital natives. They’ve never had to make the transition from offline to online, and have grown up in a world where “Googling” has always been a verb. Armed with this accessible, evolving technology, Gen Z have taught themselves skills online, moved away from the traditional means of education and as a result have become a lot more entrepreneurial.

A wonderful example of this is Jack Andraka. A teenager from the USA who used the wealth of information available through the Internet, coupled with his teenage optimism, to do what everyone told him was impossible – find a detector test for pancreatic cancer. Check out his amazing story:

Incredible right?

Another inspiring example is that of Dutch youngster Boyan Slat. Appalled at the state of the world’s oceans, he devised a plan to clean up the devastating amount of plastic polluting our planet’s resources. Unsatisfied with the attitude of previous generations who’s outlook is “we can’t fix it, all we can do is try not to make it worse” he started a project called “The Ocean Clean Up”. Here’s his story so far:


Our Responsibility

Equipped with this knowledge about Gen Z, it is our responsibility as mentors, parents, teachers and role models to act as facilitators for this new generation and nurture their approach. It is the combined responsibility of government, industry and academia to address the skills gap that is being created in the face of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (don’t believe us – just ask the Millennials with their Geography degrees).

Let’s take a look at some of the examples from around the world as well as within the UAE of support systems that have been put in place to mitigate this evolving issue.

1.The Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation has been established to address the growing need for talented designers and innovators in the UAE and beyond – today’s students who will be tomorrow’s innovators.

2.Smart City University, is the world’s first open platform for decentralized education and digital skill development on the blockchain, accessible from anywhere. It’s presently being created by Smart Dubai to formalize and certify the skills people are learning through otherwise unconventional means, increase the number of people qualified for the new industry roles that await them and to enable people from anywhere to build their own educational path towards the future, fourth industrial revolution-world economy

3. Established by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Code.org is a nonprofit entity dedicated to expanding access to computer science in schools around the world. Their goal is that computer coding should become the norm in a schools curriculum and given the same importance as say biology or algebra.

The above ecosystems are well poised to help Gen Z in their quest to challenge the status quo, harness technology to solve the biggest challenges the world faces and change the way we think and live. Their outlook, coupled with the technological advances means that Gen Z aren’t just set to hack the world…they’re going to rule it.


Featured Image Credit: Drew Graham

Growth Hacking: 5 tips for marketers… and a little inspiration.

Growth hacking has been hot on the lips of digital marketers for while now; it’s a technique that’s easy to understand but a little harder to practice. When a brand “growth hacks”, it delves deep into the world of its audience, to understand its audiences’ perspectives and create products and services around their needs and desires. Brands start by carefully measuring their audience’s feedback, preferences and behaviors, in order to create, trial and augment products and services to better suit the customer. Growth hackers are customer thrill seekers and problem solvers at heart; searching for the subliminal product / market fit, in order to drive business growth and, in its ultimate application, transform category growth.

Growth hacking means taking an experimental, creative and data-driven approach to the way business is conducted. While the approach is often led by marketing, it’s inherently a cross-functional discipline, drawing together many functions of a business, particularly R&D, Marcomms, Sales, Engineering, Production and Distribution, to gear around the customer. There’s also the “small” matter of C-suite buy in 🙂

To the digital marketing natives among us, growth hacking should be like breathing air, it is both the form and function of how we operate. It’s our job to listen to audiences at both a micro and macro level to surface insights that inspire new ways of conducting business. How many times have you listened to your communities and thought “Why can’t my brand just do what the people want?” To growth hack and transform a business in a way that delights both audiences and shareholders is a marketer’s ultimate dream! The secret to a successful hack is internal buy-in, a degree of organizational agility and perception change – stakeholders need to see that marketing isn’t just a cost centre and can meaningfully inform and shape business growth.

So… you lookin’ for a revolution, punk? Here are 5 tips for developing a growth hacking initiative that will help noise things up:

  1. Start with data-fueled insights, backed up with examples: Growth hacking isn’t an assumption, it’s premised on known information conveyed by customer data. Use the wealth of first, second and third party data that’s open to you. Form use cases and user personas premised on market examples that are representative of your findings
  2. Make decent business cases: Notice the plural here? Don’t just get stuck on one good idea. Get used to (rejection) writing compelling, succinct business cases. Keep it simple, but do your best to include the opportunity, the mutual benefit, the risk, cost, tech, timescale, measurement frameworks, operational and organizational impact and capability. Granted, you may not have full visibility over this, however it can be top line and seek input… which takes us to our next point:
  3. Gather your allies: Start with those who are most likely to understand where you’re coming from, such as your R&D and sales people, for instance and search for allies throughout the organization: a friendly face in distribution could be a killer addition to your renegade growth hacking team.
  4. Allocate a budget for experimentation: September is soon upon us and we’re gearing up for 2019 planning. Now’s the time to allocate a budget for marketing innovation. It doesn’t have to be big… but enough to conduct some monitoring, market testing, customer segmentation, outreach and trial.
  5. Prepare to be challenged: Similar to digital transformation initiatives, of which growth hacking is a natural cousin, expect people to be resistant to change. It’s human nature. Don’t be dismayed, all you need is a small green light to set your idea fly! Remember, all those detractors will become the initiative’s biggest advocate once they small success. Again, it’s human nature.

Need a little inspiration?

Let’s take a look at some of the best examples of growth hacking, to give you a bit of context and hopefully inspire you:

  1. The WIN/WIN.

Dropbox increased their signups by 60% by using growth hacking techniques to grow their customer base and augment their product to better suit their customers needs. In their early start-up years they experimented with many different hacking techniques and were recognized at The Webbys and The Crunchies for their results. One of their most successful initiatives was their “Refer a Friend” through which they were able to exponentially grow their customer base. Existing customers were offered 500mb of extra storage for every friend they managed to recruit via the link, the incentive worked both ways as the new joiners also received the same bonus. By offering the same incentive to the new user, they are encouraged to pass on the message further and so the growth continues. Essentially Dropbox was able to get its existing customers base to take charge of the marketing to potential customers, at very little cost. In addition to this, the referral process has much more credibility than traditional advertising as users were more inclined to trust information that comes from someone they know. 


For our second example we’re going to club Gmail and Hotmail together (so controversial, we know). Both used classic characteristics of human nature, namely curiosity and belonging, to attract their audiences.

Hotmail launched in 1996, with “PS, I love you, get your free email at Hotmail.” This curious tagline, punched on the base of emails, sparked global virality… and the rest is history.

Gmail’s 2004 launch was same same but different; it launched by releasing invites to 1,000 tastemakers and granted them permission to refer friends. A gmail invite became the hottest invite in town – we remember the mad scurry to get said invite, it was a digital social status *thing*!

As you can see, successful growth hacking often comes about from leveraging the nature and behavior of audiences and working with them so that all parties involved benefit. And while everyone’s talking the technique up, wouldn’t you agree that listening to your customers needs and acting on them to drive business growth is simply common sense*? We certainly think so.

Please share with us your thoughts and experiences on growth hacking.

*And yes, we are more than well aware of “that” Henry Ford quote and guess what? He never said it!

Image credit: Bruno Cervera / Unsplash

Got a blogpost to write for work? (Make Google do it!)


Once upon a time, robots were the stuff of sc-fi movies and graphic novels. For most, this conjures up an image of a dalek-like helper with an automated voice who, in our imagination, could one day help with the washing up. Nowadays, this has evolved into a more virtual and smarter concept. 

As technology advances so does AI, its capabilities and our expectations of it. Developers at Google have created a device that can understand orders, perform tasks intelligently and professionally, understand complex language of the ordinary human and know how to respond to it. To date, we have seen examples of this through technologies such as Siri VI and Google Home.

On May 8, 2018 Google levelled up and launched Google Duplex, a smart assistant, the likes of which have never been seen before.

What is Google Assistant?

Google Assistant is Google’s voice-controlled smart assistant. The technology is marketed as an application that can save you time and make your life easier, by assisting with day-to-day tasks. Google Duplex makes the conversational experience as natural as possible, allowing people to speak normally like they would to another person, without having to adapt to a machine.

What Makes it Different?

Google Assistant has the below differentiators setting it aside from existing voice-controlled AI technologies:

  1. Google Assistant Multiple Actions means that it can handle multiple requests at once, something that other AI-powered assistants have yet to master
  2. The assistant can understand when you are speaking to it or when you are speaking to someone else around you due to its ability to understand the nuances of the conversation

This doesn’t mean to say that there is no competition. While Google’s AI-powered, conversational capabilities such as these have never been seen before, Amazon Alexa (released in 2014) is compatible with over 12,000 devices while Google Assistant only 5000.

google assistant

Image Credit: Google.com

The Future of Smart Technology

At Bravo, technology is a passion of ours and we love learning about new smart solutions. We asked the team to share their thoughts on Google Assistant and while some of the team like the idea of a smart assistant to help with their life admin, there was some apprehension around privacy.

Gamze says, “The main aim of Google Assistant is to enter your private life in order to help make your life much easier, which for me raises privacy concerns. The assistant will need to grab as much information as possible from my personal data, day-to-day activities, documents and much more to become more powerful, faster and ultimately “smarter”. It is simply not useful without me sharing my personal information with it. Hence, this raises a lot of concerns; To what extent does Google Assistant have access to my stored information? What if my information is used for advertising purposes? Is it heavily secured or could it be hacked? Will my data be sold?”

Mer echo’s these sentiments with concerns around data management and the need for full disclosure, “There is an early indicator however that transparency is not a priority and that concerns the subject of DISCLOSURE. The fact is that you don’t know whether you’re speaking to a human or robot, Google Assistant does not disclose itself to you. And that, in my opinion, is really dangerous – there are likely to be a range of use cases for bad players. Couple this with the AI-infused natural language processing, whereby you have Google Assistant reflecting human intonation and speech, the “umms,” “eerrrs” and “ahhhs” for example and the end user is even more readily deceived”.


This is more true than ever now, in the wake of GDPR, where consent means offering users choice and control. With regards to data, as we mentioned on our previous blogpost, the GDPR defines consent as “any freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous indication of the data subject’s wishes by which he or she, by a statement or by a clear affirmative action, signifies agreement to the processing of personal data relating to him or her”.

However, Google is claiming to care about clarity and transparency and a Google spokesperson was quoted in the Financial Express saying, “We understand and value the discussion around Google Duplex, as we have said from the beginning, transparency in the technology is important”.

“We are designing this feature with disclosure built-in, and we will make sure the system is appropriately identified. What we showed at I/O was an early technology demo, and we look forward to incorporating feedback as we develop this into a product,” the spokesperson added.

So What’s Next ?

At the moment, Google can follow instructions but what if Google got smarter than this and started to make decisions for us?  For now, we can book hair appointments and get simple tasks done but will we be able to send Google Assistant to work for us in the future?

As Katie said, ”For me to actually bother to use Google Assistant it would have to be smart enough to carry out tasks that I see as a real hardship. For example, my car registration is currently three weeks overdue, if Google could take care of that? Absolutely – sign me up! My DEWA bill is the bane of my life – can Google pay it? Yes please! I also could really do with finding the cheapest way to get from Dubai to Scotland over the summer but I can’t face trawling through all the compare websites – can I make Google do it?”

And so, we’ve reached a crossroads…on one hand we have technology advancing at an exponential pace and on the other, we have a more aware, discerning audience with real concerns about data-privacy and cyber security. Do regulations such as GDPR make it harder for companies to be free to invent new technologies by imposing all these regulations? If Google can find the careful balance between creating a smart, truly useful product and at the same time genuinely addressing its users concerns, we believe that will be the key to success. What do you think? Send us your thoughts on hello@bravoromeobyaj.com

Featured Image Credit: 9to5google.com

GDPR: A New Era of Data Regulation

What does it mean for businesses in the Middle East?

Last September we penned an article on the upcoming GDPR laws  (General Data and Protection Regulation) and the potential implications for the MENA region. At the time of writing, information was scarce and the impact for the region was unclear. 25th May is “G-Day” – so if you’re late to the party and need a cheat-sheet, we’re here to help.

To recap, theGDPR is a set of regulations being brought in by the European Union this month to tackle data and specifically consent. Described as the most comprehensive data privacy law in history, it comprises of 99 articles that define how companies must approach data collection and its management.

What is Consent?

In a nutshell, consent means offering users choice and control. With regards to data, the GDPR defines consent as “any freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous indication of the data subject’s wishes by which he or she, by a statement or by a clear affirmative action, signifies agreement to the processing of personal data relating to him or her.” 

In layman’s terms, this means that individuals will have the power to demand that a company reveals or deletes the personal data they hold. In addition, it changes the rules of engagement from an marketers point of view, for example; sending out mass marketing emails to people who have not opted-in will be illegal.

What does GDPR mean for businesses in the UAE?

With the new laws coming into effect on the 25th of May, companies in the UAE are trying to determine what the business implications will be for them. In the past week we’ve seen a significant spike in the number of searches for information surrounding GDPR, as indicated below:     


Source: GoogleTrends

The EU has madeGDPR and its implications very clear; it applies to companies within the EU, as well as any companies that offer goods or services to, or monitor behavior of, people within the EU. Now, obviously this affects a great deal of companies operating out of the MENA region who have audiences, marketshare and even employees within the EU.

Getting it wrong is costly – beyond reputation damage, businesses may face substantial fines. Infringements of the basic principles for processing personal data, including conditions for consent, are subject to the highest tier of administrative fines. It could mean a fine of up to 20 million euros or 4% of your total worldwide annual turnover, whichever is higher.


Image Credit: Mysolomon

However, what is not yet clear is how the EU will enforce these regulations, particularly in the region, as the Middle East is not bound by the European Court of Human Rights.

Data Laws and best practice in Dubai

Now, while how the EU regulations will be policed may not be completely clear, Dubai’s stance on the issue of data privacy, management and protection is unequivocal. In February 2018, Smart Dubai launched the Dubai Data Policies to regulate the classification, publication, sharing, storage, use and re-use of open data.

What’s the benefit of GDPR for companies?

Legalities aside, here at Bravo Romeo we believe that stricter regulations surrounding data are a welcome change. Following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, data privacy made headlines worldwide, resulting in people making an effort to become more aware of how their data is managed and be more discerning about giving consent for companies to use it. Realistically, almost every business today is data-driven and digital. The threat of cyber-security is real and it is imperative to both personal and commercial safety, as well as to business continuity, that data is managed securely. It’s not just about compliance, it’s about best practice and ensuring that we, as an industry, support GDPR as a catalyst for positive change in regards to cybersecurity, both globally and in the region.

Don’t get us wrong, it’s not all doom and gloom! Ultimately, the correct management of data means that companies are better placed to manage it as a strategic business asset. Data is arguably set to becomes the most valuable currency so by complying organizations will ensure they reap the benefits of it.


Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock. Image ID: 731051713