Understand your brand.

Orange Line

Kazolu provides clear, concise communications. We build better understanding for your brand, business, organization, or yourself. We produce strategic plans, brand marketing, copywriting and content that make complicated concepts understandable and shareable.

Most people understand their professional purpose, but find it difficult to share their purpose clearly. They get caught up in day-to-day complexities. Their purpose, their story and their brand become challenging to define, and even harder to articulate.

Kazolu offers processes that peel away layers of compexity to reveal your core purpose - the foundational simplicity that is your brand's identity.


Our Story

Kazolu is a communications company that develops brand identities and provides strategic business communications. We work with our clients to create coherent, compelling stories and clearly-understood brand identities. Kazolu is an independent firm based in Guelph, Ontario that works regionally and nationally with a wide variety of brands, companies, and organizations since 2009.

We work with businesses, community benefit organizations, and individuals. Kazolu is managed by Rob McLean, and draws upon a team of associates who provide flexibility with expertise, creative styles, and tactical implementation as required.

We work to provide strategic messages that are consistent, authentic, truthful and effective.


Kazolu's core services are brand consultingstrategic planning, copywriting and content production. We provide brand strategy, and consult on tactical approaches that meet your needs. We have worked in the past with large corporations, independent entrepreneurs and SMEs, not-for-profit organizations, individual products, and individuals - regionally, nationally, and internationally.

We work as a part of your team, building your business and your brand, not our own. We deliver results that you should expect from a member of your own team.


Good ideas are delicate, complicated things. We all have ideas, and we're trying to be heard. A good idea is the core of a good conversation, and ideas need to be brought to life in order to make a difference. They must be expressed creatively and convincingly in order to reach their full potential. Ideas drive everything forward, and they should be shared.

Ideas are the core of your identity. The best ideas can appear as sporadically and infrequently, but with time, patience and research, you can set the conditions for successful ideation. This is the core of Kazolu's "Understand Your Brand" process: the best way to move your brand, business or organization forward is to first fully comprehend where it has been. When you understand your assets, attributes and equity, you can authentically articulate your core identity - and that's when the best creative ideas for growth can appear. They'll hit quickly and effortlessly, and you will be ready to catch them.



People process information by putting ideas into language. Ideas must be shared before they can move into action. Words matter.

Writing is our core in-house competency. We have years of experience with technical and business writing, and members of our team are also published writers of fiction, literary non-fiction, and recorded music.

Excellent written content is required for internal communications, human resources, sales collateral, customer service, advertising scripts, and investor/stakeholder relations. We write content that is concise, compelling and interesting as possible, but fully congruent with your brand assets. We help you to understand your brand to ensure authenticity, and we align this authentity with your marketing communications. We then help you to share that understanding. Your communications tools should look great (and they will), but your written and spoken content must be great first.

Rob McLean (Principal at Kazolu) teaches marketing and business communication at the University of Guelph. He has published various documents about branding & marketing, and he has literally written the book on brand asset analysis: "Understand Your Brand" is launching in 2017. The book is a guide to clear, consise, consistent communication. It demonstrates how to audit the assets, attributes and equity that support every brand, regardless of its size or scope. Understanding the impressions and expectations that people have about a brand will set the foundation for all future brand-building effrorts. It is a fundamental, often-overlooked step, and "Understand Your Brand" tells the story of how it can be done, no matter what your goals are.



Video is the most effective marketing medium in the digitial world. Ideas and words come alive through the eyes and the ears, and modern storytelling demands visual representations to bring great ideas and words to life. Video production is one of Kazolu's strengths. The best videos should provide compelling clarity. We have a team that can take care of everything you need - from script writing, editing and production management, to distribution of the final product. We work with a broad network of videographers, photographers, and art directors, and we keep you as involved as you wish to be in the process.

Video is powerful because it engages more of your senses than just written words or printed pictures. Beautiful visuals paired with strategically chosen words and sounds are simply more compelling as engaging communications tools. And, video is shareable in a way that traditional advertising is not. We call videos "shareable clarity" because if you get it right, you can state your truthful case clearly and accurately in only a few minutes - and you can share your story as broadly as you wish, with just a few clicks.


Rob McLean, principal of Kazolu, delivers brand development stories, speeches and keynotes that build on a diverse skill set developed through concurrent careers as a marketer, writer, parent, teacher, speaker, business coach, producer, and a folk-punk songwriter and recording musician.

Rob combines business experience and creative intuition to tell better stories for companies, organizations, and individuals. He is one of the few survivors of the 90s independent music scene to earn an MBA, and he survived a decade in the Canadian beer business where he defined unique, authentic brand identities for products that are (let's face it) fundamentally identical. He balances earned performance energy with learned business acumen to deliver presentations that are straightforward, crisp, frank and truthful. 

Rob is the author of ‘Understand Your Brand,’ a guide to clear, concise, consistent communications, and he has released seven albums of original music. He customizes his speaking presentations for each audience, presenting relevant, workable ideas for corporations, not-for-profit organizations, and personal-brand entrepreneurs. He reveals how every person, product, or public organization is a collection of assets, attributes, and equity that must be understood in order to be best-represented. The ‘Understand Your Brand’ platform provides truth, resonance and authenticity to support marketing and communications efforts, and it works equally well for business growth, community-benefit member engagement, and personal development.

A few potential topics:

Understand Your Brand (Business communications) - Companies can leverage existing assets, people and resources to expand their brand and grow their business. Everything that has contributed to your business contributes to your brand. This discussion will reveal how you can highlight your company's best attributes to positively shape existing and future brand impressions.

Understand Your Identity (Personal Branding) - Personal branding can be developed and articulated to dramatically and beneficially influence personal and professional growth. Presenting your "best self" is your best competitive advantage, and authenticity is essential if you want to grow and develop in your career or business.

Understand Your Mission (Not-for-profit Outreach) - How community-benefit organizations map resources and goals to engage and expand their community, fundraising efforts, and impact.

Understand Your Strategy (Strategic Branding) - Learn how “understanding” builds effective, efficient marketing strategy. A deep understanding of strengths and weakness is required before entering a business battlefield. Industry and competitive trends - the “terrain” on which you will do battle - must be mapped before boots hit the ground. Placing tactics ahead of strategy- actions without plans - is the greatest mistake that marketers make, but it’s easy to avoid. Knowledge is power, but only if knowledge is understood. Sun Tzu said, “Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril.” That’s truth.


Kazolu is intentionally based in Guelph, Ontario. 

Tel: 519-994-0002


Holy Schhhh…. Creative ideas, and/or creative recycling

Monday, June 5th, 2017 

I joined the beer company Grolsch in 2005, inheriting an existing Canadian advertising campaign that pivoted around the “sch” in the brand’s name. The iconic brewer was working to build their Canadian business, and they had accepted the counsel of their Canadian marketing agency to expand brand awareness by establishing the correct pronunciation of the company’s Dutch name through widespread advertising. The advertising was built upon creative executions that played on this “sch” idea.
The campaign execution involved print ads, trade collateral (beer coasters, posters), out of home ads (billboards, transit shelters), and a lot of radio that hammered home the correct verbal pronunciation of the brand’s name. The radio ads also established the brand’s Netherlands heritage through a questionable (but allegedly humorous) Dutch accent. It was a clever idea - the campaign won a few awards, and it increased “unaided brand awareness,” if not actual sales. 
We chose to evolve the brand’s Canadian ad messaging in the following year. You need more than name recognition to motivate purchase in the beer business, and while heightened brand awareness was a valuable step, it didn’t actually stimulate new business (and the concept was hated in Quebec), so we moved on. 
I was reminded of the old campaign earlier today when I read a social media post from a past colleague who accused the carbonated beverage company Schweppes of “stealing” the decade-old Grolsch “sch” creative concept. On the surface, Schweppes has taken an almost identical approach to the Grolsch campaign in their recent Canadian advertising, with words like ”RefreSCHing” and “ThirSCHt” in their creative executions. It’s definitely a similar concept - too close for comfort, really.
Unfortunately, my old colleague’s indignation appears to be unfounded - because Schweppes already executed a variation on this same theme between 1965 and 1973. Apparently, in the UK, the tagline “Schhh…. you know who” is legendary among those who are old enough to remember it. If anything, today’s current Schweppes creative builds upon their own 50-year-old idea, bringing it into the present.
So, hooray for the internet information age: this original “sch” Schweppes campaign was created by the London office of Ogilvy and Mather. O&M had worked with Schweppes since 1953, and my guess is that the early “sch” campaign was designed to build their business outside of the UK, developing the same sort of name recognition and unaided brand awareness that Grolsch’s Canadian agency was targeting over 40 years later.
The true genius of O&M’s old Schweppes concept, in my opinion, is the “sch” onomatopoeia that replicates the sound created when you open a bottle of soda. By linking the “sch” sound to the Schweppes brand, their advertising claimed ownership over an attribute that was common to the entire carbonated beverage segment - the auditory signal that a beverage is ready for drinking. I’m sure that many consumers thought of Schweppes every time they opened a carbonated beverage bottle or can, regardless of which product they were opening. Owning an audio cue like this across an entire segment is huge - every fizzy beverage opened would echo the Schweppes brand - including colas, mineral waters, beer and cider. This auditory element could have worked for the Grolsch campaign too… if only the agency had thought of it (though to be fair, while the cans and crowntops go "schhh." the iconic Grolsch Swingtop bottle goes “pop.”)
I’m not suggesting that Grolsch’s Canadian agency stole their idea from Schweppes in 2005, nor am I suggesting that ideas are being recycled by anybody now - I would never make such accusations. What is interesting is how it is much easier to verify the originality of creative ideas in the internet age. In 2005, nobody was archiving old advertising campaigns online, so there were fewer ways to check for originality. Now, I can easily learn that Schweppes relaunched themselves in the UK with a modern version of the “schhh” campaign - in 2006. I can also clearly follow the thread between a great old advertising idea and a modern reinterpretation, in great detail.
There are so many creative ideas, and there is so much danger of crossover - but at least it’s simpler today to verify when intellectual property has already been used, 

just as it is easier to understand how legacy brands are building on their history.