Category Archives: Marketing

Lockdown Economy Talk with Christof Zürn

In this interview, we meet Christof Zürn, the founder of Creative Companion, a business that helps organizations use creative thinking to create sustainable business innovation. The COVID-19 pandemic has made flexibility one of the most important resources in any business, as companies have been forced to alter their strategy and switch-up their goals. Christof spoke about the importance of creative thinking in ensuring that businesses can stay on top of developments in their sector and described how his methodology, ‘Music Thinking’, can help companies connect their different priorities and develop better, more sustainable business designs.

Christof was forced to utilise flexibility himself by moving his consultancies online and experimenting with new platforms. When business began to slow down for Creative Companion due to the pandemic Christof used this quiet period to develop and strengthen his ‘Music Thinking’ methodology and to network with other members of his sector to develop new concepts aimed to help boost business creativity and connectedness. Christof’s key message was one of progression. He emphasised that although the pandemic has encouraged everyone to wish for things to return to how they were before, Christof believes businesses will gain more value from building on this experience and progressing with it. To do this, creative thinking is fundamental.

What 3 things does the guest need help with? Christof would like help in finding companies who are open to making a fundamental change in their business thinking. He is also looking for a publisher for his book regarding ‘Music Thinking’. Please support the Lockdown Economy with your donation on our GoFundMe page…​ In the Lockdown Economy interviews, small business owners and self-employed professionals share their insights, challenges and successes during the COVID-19 global pandemic to inspire, motivate and encourage other entrepreneurs around the world.

About the Guest As ‘Creative Companion’ Christof is accompanying individuals, teams and organisations to make the step from iteration to innovation to transformation. He does this with decades of experience in branding, digitalisation, service design, design thinking and developed a fresh methodology he calls ‘Music Thinking’. “Website:

Send Christof a message with why you want to connect on LinkedIn:…

About the Host Rosie Allison is a master student of Media and the Creative Industries at Erasmus University Rotterdam. She aspires to work in the creative industries in the sphere of communications, using her interpersonal abilities to help drive innovation in the workplace. #lockdowneconomy_local#SDGAction36773#entrepreneurship#restart#SDGs#lockdowneconomy#creativity#creativethinking#designthinking#musicthinking


Social Media and Sales – great Lesson from Gary Vaynerchuk

Years ago on e-day I had the pleasure to see a talk of Gary Vee. If you have ever seen Gary Vee or not, if you are in marketing, sales or any other business you should at least see this guy once. Here is a (one year old) talk he did at Inc 500 – it is amazing and funny. Don’t skip the last few minutes, the Q&A and the end is also really worth all your time.

Here are the things he is mentioning, but you better watch the whole 1 hour.

  • social media, ROI, it’s a race, it’s a branding race, it’s s a context race
  • Most of us are acting like a 19 year old dude, trying to close on the first transaction
  • It is all about long term value, not about the spend you get right now.
  • Marketing is like a cocktail party, everyone is in play …
  • Thank You Department (the offense) vs. Customer Service (the defense)
  • We call every single customer who places an order and thank them – and that’s it!
  • how much thank you economy stuff are you doing with your people?
  • NFC near fiels communication
  • we are extraverts, even if we are introverted
  • this social media game is not about talking: you need to wire your mouth shut and start using your ears. Because that is the game in play.
  • Word of mouth is the currency and now we have the infrastructure
  • we are in the eyeballs and ear business
  • go to twitter search instead of google search to see what your experience is like
  • retention is the game, life time value is the game.
  • What is the real ROI of social media, what’s the ROI of your mother?
  • The ROI of my mother is everything, I can’t show you in data the ROI of my mother but i promise you it is all of it.
  • really go deep emotionaly with your customer base – they should be your best friends
  • map your entire consumer base
  • push that human element

What the economy could learn from Richard Wagner – the man, the work, the brand

The world will celebrate the 200th anniversary of composer Richard Wagner, this makes 2013 ‘the Wagnerjahr’. In their last edition of the year german financial newspaper “Handelsblatt’ is also focussing on ‘all the things to come’ and dedicated the cover story to Richard Wagner.

The story illustrates the many perspectives of Wagner: the innovator, the storyteller, the free spirit, the entrepreneur, the marketing strategist and I would like to add the ‘Music Thinker’ (more on music thinking see below).


The visionary Wagner was driven by his mission to change the world with his idea of the innovative music drama into a unique ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’.
To realize his goal he was able to ‘think as a musician and act as a designer and entrepreneur’. He used his many skills without any compromise against all odds and struggles along the way like a 19th century Steve Jobs. He designed the interior of his music hall in Bayreuth with the focus on acoustics above comfort: the simple chairs are made from wood (fabrics would absorb the sound), the musicians are hidden in a deep orchestra pit so the audience would not be distracted, there is no heating and no climate control.


When Wagner began to write his masterpiece – the 16 hour lasting ‘Der Ring des Nibelungen” – he was 34, at the world premiere in Bayreuth he was 63. The story is about love, power, leadership, greed, betrayal, ruin and destruction; or as conductor Christian Thielemann put it ‘what happens when modern man is losing sight of himself while striving for property and wealth’.

There are many connections possible with our modern world and politics. Every year captains of industry and politicians like Angela Merkel sit side by side to experience the man, the music and the brand Richard Wagner –  hope they get inspired to hear, see and do the right things in the context of  our Gesamtkunstwerk.


Trending in 2013

For inspiration and speculation I put 4 terms into Google Trends (2012 view):

  • Richard Wagner
  • Financial Crisis
  • Service Design
  • Music Thinking

Interesting that the Financial Crisis is on it’s decline (at least in search volume nota bene), Service Design and Richard Wagner are meandering through the year with two peaks for Richard Wagner; Music Thinking is still a ‘hidden secret’.


You can help to change this in 2013 with tweeting #musicthinking for inspiring ideas in music and beyond!

Music Thinking

“Music Thinking is the use of thoughts, learnings, ideas and inspirations that are derived from all kinds of music, sonic phenomena, sounds, musical instruments, tools, techniques, metaphors, patterns, brands, behaviours and music business to inspire and motivate in a new way of thinking to reach goals, solve problems or just to have fun.”

Christof Zürn  (

What branding and design can learn from jazz

Raum-Musik für Saxophone CD booklet from DOUBLES

The music metaphor is very strong in communication and there are a lot of papers, articles and blog posts, that are dealing with jazz, pop music or bands regarding marketing, communications and design. One of the first articles I have seen on this subject was ‘What Jazz Taught Marketing (or Should Have)’
by Keith Jennings from 2004 In it’s seven learnings he describes things like practicing, playing with better people than yourself, finding your own voice, collaboration, experiment, innovation, risk and the audience – everything a brand should be aware of.

But there are so many more and as a matter of fact I would say design, communication and branding can learn a lot or may be inspired a lot by music, the music business, a band or any other performing individual – may it be jazz, pop or classical.

Here are a few I would recommend for inspiration:

Niche Marketing and the Long Tail
What We Can Learn about Great Marketing from the Grateful Dead by Daniel Sweet. The Grateful Dead may be the most profitable rock band in history even though it has never had a #1 single or a #1 album.  Think about that for a second. Did you know that only two of the band’s songs ever cracked the top 40 on the pop charts?

Naming and Branding
What The Grateful Dead Can Teach Us About Choosing Memorable Brand Names Fastcompany article about the process in which the Grateful Dead picked their band name and what companies considering their own brands can learn from them.

Improvisation and  Innovation
Innovation, Jazz, and Improvisation
by Stephen Shapiro with seven learnings: ‘unlearn habits, say ‘yes’ to the mess, have minimal structures that maximise autonomy, embrace errors as a source of learning, provocative competence, alternate between soloing and support, strike a groove’.

Medeski, Martin & Wood, Radiolarian The project is unique among studio albums because, in a reversal of the typical recording process, the band decided to compose and then develop the songs through a series of tours before recording the music in the studio. Also very interesting the band released the material  in a comprehensive box set with 3 studio CD’s, 2 vinyl LP’s, a live album, a remix CD and a DVD with documentary material under the name Radiolarians: The Evolutionary Set

A very recent short post from Seth Godin: Why jazz is more interesting than bowling and not to forget the ‘Symphony’ principle of Daniel Pink in the book: A whole new mind

When I set up my own company CREATIVE COMPANION I started with writing a CREDO (what I believe) inspired of ‘a day in the life’ of a musician and in the  MANIFESTO #10 I tried to sum up:

10. Think like a musician.

Compose, invent, innovate, orchestrate, prepare, communicate, rehearse, improvise, entertain, listen, play, perform – don’t give a damn.



In one of the next posts I will write about Patterns from pattern recogintion, pattern design, a pattern language to (inevitably) minimal music.

Any suggestions? Drop a note!
Christof Zürn


Christof Zürn

Download:   CREATIVE COMPANION Fact sheet