Building a Transformational Brand Experience

I’m a huge hypocrite.

When your previous job sees you working in the head office of the largest bank in Australia you become no stranger to KPIs and targets.

“She’s having a laugh!’’ I whisper to Tony as the Q4 targets were announced by our boss in the Monday morning team huddle in 2016.

Outspoken, I’ve always taken exception to unrealistic KPIs and performance metrics. They annoy me. Aside from being counter productive to actually hitting targets, they are damaging for company culture and good staff see right through them.


Fast forward to the 9th Feb, 2020. A hotel lobby in Colombo, Sri Lanka. It’s approaching 8am and twenty two One Life customers are making their way onto the coach to visit the world famous Sigiriya Rock.

It’s the first morning of the tour.

Amongst the chaos of bags being loaded I see a girl dishing out instructions. She must be the tour guide, I think to myself. Kacee is a new recruit and today is the first day we have actually met in person. She’s got that sparkle in her eye, I’ve seen it before in other One Life guides. It’s rare that I get to meet staff in this setting and I am not joining the tour so time is precious.

Once the passenger count is complete, I ask Kacee to tell me what her main objectives are for this group before she leaves. Kacee begins thinking and before she can finish her first couple of words, I interject…

“Change at least one persons life in the next 12 days!”

Now the opening statement starts to make sense right!?


Naturally, the term “life changing” gets thrown around a lot in the travel industry. Whilst I’m sure everyone has good intentions and truly believes that they have this kind of impact on their customers (and staff), only a select few businesses actually execute. Special businesses who stand humbly tall above their competition in a way that separates them from the rest.

Changing people’s perspectives or behaviours is one of the most difficult things a human being can do, in my opinion. However, from my own experience I can also say it’s one of the most profound experiences you will have in your life time. To get anywhere close to success requires a deep understanding of human behaviours, an unprecedented level of caring and for the commercial focused readers out there, an expert knowledge of market trends.

I realised very quickly when starting One Life that we had a huge opportunity to influence the behaviour and thought patterns of thousands of people from all over the world. It’s a position of huge responsibility and one we teach our people, people like Kacee, to relish rather than shy away from.

I am by no means an expert but somehow, with the help of my business partner, I managed to create an award winning adventure travel business recognised as one of the industry leaders in transformational travel. I’m proud to say we have done incredible things for customers and communities alike for many years.

Here are my top 5 tips for building a transformational brand.


Making an impact and making a profit can be at odds with each other at times. Your motivations must be pure and if you talk the talk you must… well you know how the saying goes! That isn’t to say that profits can’t be a byproduct of making an impact but it certainly shouldn’t be the main driver.


Make sure you have a team that aligns to the mission, vision and values of the company. Getting rid of non-believers is critical and do it quickly. In the early days, I unfortunately lost some good staff because although they were good at what they did, I didn’t feel they were a fit to our brand and what I wanted us to achieve in the world.


Having the audacity to think you have the capability of transforming someone’s life is a great start and the great thing is, it truly is possible. Remember, it’s only the people who TRY, who actually DO in life.


Understand the difference between offering someone a great / amazing / unbelievable experience VS a life changing experience. There are plenty of great products in the marketplace, but in order to be truly transformational you need to put the experience at the heart of everything you do which requires you to be different in what you’re offering.


Make sure the front of house and back of house are not disconnected. Treat your staff with as much care as your customers. Take an interest in developing your own, it’s one of the most rewarding parts of leadership. Only when your staff are doing their life’s best work will your customers experience a transformational brand.

So there you have it. My top tips on how to build a transformational brand experience. However, before I go. In the words of my business mentor, after yet another game changing piece of advice… don’t listen to me, I don’t know anything!

Happy implementing.

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