Once, in a beautiful chateau in the South of France, a group of brand builders gathered together to do something that had never been done before. It sounds like the beginning of a fairy tale. But ZAGWEEK actually happened, and it was a great success. Marty developed the ZAGWEEK workshop in the hopes of bringing together diverse branding experts and creating a collaborative, open atmosphere of learning and idea sharing. A few weeks ago the fairy tale became a wonderful reality.

Nine branders. Five days. One inspiring experience.

ZAGWeek_2_final

A “zag,” in Marty Neumeier’s lexicon, is a radically differentiated market position (“when everyone zigs, zag”). And learning to “zag” is what inspired nine brand-builders to travel to France and participate in ZAGWEEK 2013, the first-of-its-kind event organized by Marty Neumeier, Liquid Agency’s Director of Transformation. The nine workshop participants came from countries as far apart as Australia, Georgia, Canada, Spain, Finland, and the UK to work under Marty’s tutelage in a centuries-old chateau in southwest France. The group worked together for five days of intensive discussion and exercises – and a bit of wine tasting – and at the end they had re-imagined a new future for old brands and had prototyped a whole set of new ones.

The workshop encouraged people to share ideas and learn from each other.

Over the course of a week, the group worked through a series of exercises that addressed such subjects as core purpose, positioning, brand personality, tribal affinities, trend waves, touchpoints, messaging, roadmaps, and other key elements of branding. What made the workshop especially valuable was the variety of viewpoints the group brought to each other’s brands. “For me,” said Shota Chinchaladze of the Republic of Georgia, “the best thing about the week was the structure of the workshop. The ability to get the ideas of ten bright professionals on every single problem or issue facing your brand was fabulous.” Lauri Jutila of Finland added, “The atmosphere in the workshop was relaxed, creative, and collaborative. We were inspired and challenged to go for the ‘freshest grass on top of the hill.’ Marty turned out to be a thoughtful host, arranging great after-work activities that culminated in a special lunch at his own ‘petite maison’.”

We were delighted to receive so much great feedback.

zag_02

Marty Neumeier commented: “The success of the workshop really came from the attitude of the participants. They brought a lot of passion and open-mindedness into the room, and they got along well together. All I did was bring some rigor to the process.” Perhaps this is true, but we think that Marty’s being a bit humble. Here’s what some of the participants had to say: “ZAGWEEK was an exhilarating mix of hands-on learning, idea-sharing, and collaboration with like-minded professionals,” said brand consultant Michael Dale of the UK. “I went home feeling inspired, enriched, and ready to take on the world.” Australian brander Nicole Cox remarked, “I’ve read all of Marty’s books over the years [and] the workshop enhanced what I thought I already knew. The bonus I didn’t expect was that I now have a support network from around the world.” “Let’s see,” Nick Hall from Canada said. “A five-day innovation workshop with one of the most progressive brand thinkers on the planet, nestled in the beauty of the French countryside, surrounded by like-minded professionals. Would it even be possible not to go home inspired, repurposed, and reenergized?”

Want to know when we will be holding the next one?

zag_03

The good news for those who missed ZAGWEEK in France is that Marty plans to repeat it next summer. And for those who can’t wait, he’s toying with a workshop in Santa Barbara this winter. Be sure to let him know you’re interested, so we can notify you in advance. Part of what makes these workshops successful is that they are small, intimate affairs – and the participants are hand-picked in terms of how their backgrounds, experience and challenges will contribute to creating the best mix for collaboration and discussion. Let us know if you are interested in being updated about the next ZAGWEEK.