Helena Mcaleer
Helena Mcaleer 28 September 2015

An Interview With Paul Bay, Founder, Citizenbay

Paul Bay, Founder of Citizen Bay, a consultancy designed to help organisations change and refresh their culture and improve their brand communications speaks to Digital Doughnut ahead of speaking at Inspiration 2015.

Paul Bay, Founder of Citizen Bay, a consultancy designed to help organisations change and refresh their culture and improve their brand communications speaks to Digital Doughnut ahead of speaking at Inspiration 2015.



Who Are You?
My name is Paul Bay and I have my consultancy of 11 years running now, which is called Citizenbay. What I get up to is helping organizations change their culture, refresh their culture and improve their brand communications for a more inspired, more curious and more profitable business.


I also run a couple of other little things. One is helping tech businesses grow, helping them to navigate the world of brands and also helping them in terms of their brand proposition and their marketing and sales approach.


I’ve got a third little business, which is called citizen brand, which is helping individuals with an emphasis on brand identity. Helping chief execs, C-suite, business owners, people in public eye shape up their brand identity.


What Inspires You And Where Do You Look For Inspiration?
What inspires me and where do I get it from? It’s pretty much everywhere. First and foremost, it’s obviously talking to people, listening to people, and also my big thing is never look at the badge, never look at what it says here. Look at this bit here. That’s one thing. It says people, not surprisingly. I also like to go off in weird and wonderful directions into the world of architecture and mathematical theory. I have been reading books on patterns in nature.


I guess I’m a pretty curious guy and try and discover things and see patterns from history. I’ve just recently seen a connection between the Battle of Crécy and how brands get things wrong. I haven’t quite worked that one out yet, but I’ll get back to you.


What Do You Do When You Have An Idea And How Do You Go About Turning It Into Reality?
As for having ideas, as I’m sure like everyone else, the ideas always come at the wrong time, the unusual time. I do get ideas in the shower. I do get ideas when I’m sitting in a park and I do get ideas when I’m listening to music. There is a whole list of other places. The one thing I’ve learned is what do I Do? It’s to make sure I write it down really quickly. Whether it’s on this, this or whether it’s on a pad or paper or something, I always have to have something close to me to capture it because I know I’m very forgetful and I’ll forget it. The critical thing is when I have an idea is to get it down within seconds because I’m very, very forgetful.


As for putting it into reality, that’s a whole other world. One of the key things is if it’s just a little idea for myself, then I’m happy to challenge myself. I put it into diary. I have little steps of what I want to do to try and get it done. When it’s working with other people, then it gets more into cajoling, advising, helping. It’s inspiring others to try and get to delivering those kind of ideas.


Generally, what it tends to need is a lot of organization and time put aside. Because the biggest challenge that many people have is, you may agree with me, I think is that everyone seems to have not enough time to do things. There is maybe time to have an idea, but we tend to have not enough time to execute the ideas. Probably the work that I do most is trying to ensure that we create time, we find that time to ensure that we execute it and execute it brilliantly.


Talk Us Through An Idea Of Yours, From Inspiration to Realisation
As for an actual example, there is lots of different examples, both personal and also from the business sector as well. A quick personal one is one I’m involved with right at the moment. I’m a big lover of music, my first love is jazz and my favorite artist is John Coltrane. Some of the great album covers that his music is found on, I found this amazing photographer called Chuck Stewart. He’s taken one of the most beautiful photographs I’ve seen on an album cover. I just have to try and find out more about him. I found out he is still alive, lives in the States. He is 89 years old, a wonderful man. I’ve now taken it upon myself to try and help him and his family get great recognition for the amazing artwork that he did.


It’s gone from that’s a lovely idea to putting it into execution. I’m halfway through it right now, but it involves finding exhibition space, looking at brand licensing, developing all of that strategy. I’m, to be honest, right in the middle of that. I’ll let you know how that goes over the next couple of months, if you’re interested.


As for business, there was a company that was spending a lot of time and a lot of money on going to trade marketing events, big trade marketing, these great big fairs and all that kind of stuff, selling their wares and meeting journalists and pushing their wares to journalists, trying to get some PR. I realized that this particular company, the chief exec, chief marketing officer, chief sales officer, CFO, the brand teams were all there for 3 days at this event. I was going, well, hold on a second, that’s a lot of money and a lot of time being spent trying to woo a few journalists.


No one was fully analysing the ROI of that time investment and the output it would get in terms of journalistic coverage, in terms of editorial coverage, in terms of value to the business in terms of the bottom line and selling more product. I asked how they were evaluating it and didn’t seem to have anything. I sat down and I cracked out an evaluation tool for the trade event. Took it to them. They took it, used it and then within six months, it became the tool with which analysing a wide range of events that they were getting involved with.


The lesson there was not the idea. The actual execution of it initially was tricky because the people who had to use the tool were the people who were effectively going to be analysed in terms of their own performance. They were very vary at first of being measured in this different way. The outcome, though, was that the measurement showed that their contribution to the business was much, much higher than initially thought. The outcome was they loved it because it made them look even better than before. It also meant the CFO had some form of metric with which to analyse different ... a certain part of the marketing investments that the marketing team are doing. Yeah, that’s a quick little example.


What Are You Going To Talk About At Inspiration?
Now as for the event, the Inspiration events that I’ve been kindly invited to. I have seen businesses need amazing innovation and phenomenal creativity to build their business not just for the short term, but for the long term. For me, there is one key element that is critical for all of that to happen and that is for an organization and the individuals within it to be curious. Curiosity for me is critical for everything. For great innovation, amazing creativity.


Without curiosity, without that openness to ideas and innovation and inspiration, we’re going to go nowhere. I’m fascinated by that and I’m going to explore that at the event. Particularly so given that technology is enabling us to have all sorts of different sources for that inspiration, for all the sources for to keep your curiosity high. The potential is that technology tends to be the crutch with which we go to for our curiosity, which means we’re effectively outsourcing our own ability to be curious individuals, to be curious human beings.


That for me is a potentially dangerous route,  if we ourselves as humans lose that innate curiosity that we have, that we’ve had since we were kids, that closes down the potential opportunities that we have both as individuals and also businesses.


I’m going to go and explore that a little bit. So enjoy.


Hear Paul Speak at Inspiration 2015, book your place now:



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