Thinking Outside The Box

To put it mildly, as a year, 2020 has been a dumpster fire.

If you were making a recipe for a bad year, you’d start with uncontrollable fires caused by global warming, kerfuffles in the Royal family, impeachment drama, stock market crashes, Kobe Bryant’s helicopter crash, the everyday difficulties that visible minorities struggle with becoming glaringly apparent, Murder Hornets, Locusts, elections, and a *LOT* of political turmoil and quite a lot of nonsense…

Oh.  And as a final ingredient, throw in a heaping helping of once-every-century Global Pandemic.

If 2020 was a font, it would be Comic Sans.

2020 is the Comic Sans of years -

It is a bit of an understatement to say that, as citizens of the world, we have been battered, bruised, and bewildered by an overwhelming year.

The other evening, while driving to safely drop off products at a client’s door, I was listening to Charles Adler’s Show on CKNW

He had one of the top Canadian Immunologists on, talking about the COVID vaccine, how the developers were able to bring various existing technologies together to make it so quickly, and what the Canadian roll-out would look like, in terms of getting it to Canadians.

At the end of the interview, Charles asked, where can Canadians go for more information about the COVID vaccine?

Their answer was: “Canada dot ca slash en slash public dash health slash services slash immunization dash vaccines dot html”

Charles said something like… “You know what you need to do?”

But nobody listened.

Nobody in Government thought about the end users (the Public), struggling to look for information on a maze-like Government website. (It is nearly impossible.)

Nobody in Government was thinking outside the box.

So, I did.

And, here it is:


Click on this link, to go to the Health Canada Vaccine Information page.




Invest In Your Kids’ Future

I don’t have the domain.

Another Bob Gray, who wanted to run for some political office down in the South Eastern US, beat me to it.  And when his political aspirations ended, he sold it to a Norwegian domain broker, who wanted $2500 for it.  It has changed hands a few times, and different folks have owned it, and tried to sell it, for more, IMO, than it is worth.

(Now it is going for 3377 US$.  Good luck!)

THAT is why I use the BobSongs brand… because I was too late.

(And THAT was 20 years ago !!!)

It surprises me, today, how many people, who are online, still haven’t gotten around to reserving their “name” domains… or their children’s.

I have four nieces, and I reserved their domains, soon after they were born, and adjusted as they settled into what they wanted to be called… and thus, established their “brand”.

For those who haven’t reserved a domain… there is very little cost, ($15 per year for a .com domain, a little more for .ca)

The first step is to check the domain availability using a WHOIS search. This is how you can check whether a domain is already reserved… (which means “taken”.)

TuCows has a free version, on their site:

The next step, if the domain is available, is to create an account with a domain registration company, and reserve the names.

I use Hover, because they are Canadian based, which means they are able to work with ALL domains, including Canadian .ca domains, without having fits.

But you can also use GoDaddy, Register, Network Solutions… there are lots of companies out there.

A few things to keep in mind:

Take the shortest option. doesn’t roll off the tongue the way does.

Don’t use underscores, dashes or numbers: doesn’t work well.  Neither does

And, finally… Make sure you set up a credit card, and enable the “auto-renew” feature, so that you don’t have to remember to go in and pay for it every year… it just automatically happens.

It isn’t very tough, and it can pay BIG dividends in their futures !!!


Musicians, Songwriters & Branding

I wrote this on my BobSongs Music Blog a while back, but as far as Branding goes, the message of being consistent can and SHOULD be applied everywhere…

Had a conversation with a musician the other day.  He said to me that he didn’t need to establish a brand, he just used his name.

“So” I said, “You’ve got your name reserved, for your website domain?”

Well… no.  Someone else has that domain reserved.

“But then surely, on your Facebook page…”

Uh, no… I haven’t got around to securing my name as a Facebook nickname, yet.

“Twitter…. ???”

Well, I don’t get Twitter, so I haven’t secured the name…

“Are there any other social media or business networks that someone can find you on ?”

Oh, yeah… I’m on MySpace, YouTube and LinkedIn.

“What name did you use on those ???”

Oh, they’re all different.

*Stunned silence*


Make a name for yourself:

The guy is a great songwriter, and an amazing musician… but not surprisingly, not too many folks have heard of him… because he has a different name, everywhere you look.

One of my teachers used to say, “Whatever you do, try to create a name for yourself.”



Not a string of names and clever acronyms that no one but you will understand.

I am my brand.

I am BobSongs.

BobSongs Creative Media - Bob Gray

On my Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook… even, so help me… Flickr… (you know I’m not much of a photographer, right ???) …I am BobSongs.

I have as many variations of BobSongs and Bob Gray web domains sewn up, as are available.

The ones that weren’t available, I keep a list of, and check every few months to see if any of them have become available.


Patrol the Brands you are associated with:

Google Alerts is great for this.

If anything “hits” the web with Bob GrayBobSongs, or any of a few other keywords I target… I get a weekly update, e-mailed to me.

Usually it is information about other BobSongs/Bob Gray’s, or tracking something from my Twitter feed or Blog…. but every once in a while it is something I want to see, or at least be aware of.  Pennywise the Clown, from the Stephen King novel “It”, was one Bob Gray.  Another Bob Gray that pops up from time to time is the professional speaker, who talks about how to expand your memory.  There are lots of others.  But if someone is saying something about my Brand… I want to know it.


Be constant, and consistent:

I’m a bad example here, and am currently unable to follow my own rule, because TOO many of my Blog posts are NOT associated with the music and songwriting of the BobSongs Brand.  The reason for this is that I haven’t yet found an alternate Brand that I am comfortable with, that is available as a domain, and on Twitter.  As soon as I do… Whoosh… my non-music content will be transferred from this Blog, to the new site.  (Note: This was written before came to be, to resolve this issue.)

On Social Media, I try to break down the conversations by category… so I have lists for Hockey Fans, Scotch Drinkers, Musicians, etc… as, many times, the groups with similar interests tend to talk about the same things.  If I do a LOT of chatting about a subject, I would consider having a separate account for that “voice.”  In my case, with my passion for all things Vancouver Canucks, I created the NucksBob Twitter account, to stop from ticking off my “other” Twitter followers, and so I can focus my tweets, in that account.


You don’t have to do any of this stuff.

Just like you don’t have to get gigs… be successful… or sell your CD’s…

You don’t have to.

But by establishing and maintaining a consistent Brand, you make it easier for people to find and support you, and it makes it that much easier, when you find success, to further establish your Brand, and broaden your support base.

Say What You Mean And Mean What You Say

“Say what you mean… And mean what you say…” Something my dad said to us as young children, to help us focus our thoughts, when we were trying to communicate difficult or complex thoughts.

His words came flooding back to me today, as I encountered a circumstance of someone posting a picture on Facebook that had a slur in it, and, when a few of us called them on it, the reply was that it “…was okay, because I didn’t create it.”  

Similarly, I have noticed a rash of Twitter accounts, where, in the 160 character bio, they make special note that “…any retweets do not imply endorsement.”

We are in a time where Facebook is all about liking… Twitter is all about tweeting… and Pinterest is all about pinning… yet despite the multitude of images, messages and captions we process every day, there seems to be a growing sense, that each of us are somehow an arms length away from “owning” what we are saying.

If I post something on my Facebook wall, I “endorse” that item.

If I retweet something on Twitter, I do so because I found it informative, funny or helpful. I have read and understood it, and want to share the value I found in it.

If I pin something on my Pinterest boards, the same thing…  I am sharing something that I thought had value.

If I find something rude or offensive, I will not share it unless I do so to educate or draw attention to it, as in the case of my “Not Okay To Use The ‘R’ Word” blog post.

What I won’t do is slough it off, and say… “Well, I didn’t read it” or “I thought it was funny, despite the obvious flaws or slurs.”

Everything that is part of my social media… or on my websites… is an extension of me and my thoughts, and I stand behind them.

I’m not saying that I’m infallible.  I sometimes trip up on words, and have to edit myself, or tweak a post after someone points out something, about which I mis-spoke.

But I look at everything I do, and run a filter, and ask, “Am I okay with this message?”

Maybe it is because I help a number of charities and organizations with their Social Media accounts, but I just do this automatically.

Some things I tweet from one account, would be entirely inappropriate for another… but that is part of Branding.

And I am proud of my BobSongs Brand, and would never think to post content to it, that I don’t PERSONALLY endorse.

And so, tonight, it got me wondering: Why is it that SO many people don’t feel that way about THEIR brands ?


“Say what you mean, and mean what you say.”

Thanks, Dad !!!

Branding 101

Branding in business, is critical.

Whether “you” are your brand, or you work under a brand name, it is important to (as much as possible) retain control of the messages that come from your brand… or SEEM to come from your brand.

That may sound confusing, but for example, when I was starting, I knew I wanted to “work” under a name that I could obtain and control the .com and .ca domains, the Linked In user name, as well as the Twitter handle.  (At that time, you couldn’t reserve a Facebook URL.) was (at that point) being held by someone from the “Committee to Elect Bob Gray as Governor“, so that wasn’t an option, although I DID pick up the domain. (More on that, in another post.)

You can find out whether a domain is available, by doing a free WHOIS search:

After much debate, deliberation, and seeing what options were available, I settled on BobSongs as my brand, and went about reserving all the domains and social media user names.

Everyone has different preferences, but I like and use for reserving ALL domains, including the .ca (Canadian) domains... because they are Canadian too!

(I believe that everyone should, as a matter of course, “protect” themselves, by reserving the domains associated with their name, their Brand and their children’s names.  If you don’t use them right away, you can “keep” a domain reserved, (it is called parking a domain,) so it is there when you want it.)


Once you have reserved the names, and you are ready to have a website or blog… you can either go about finding a webhost, switching the name servers, and designing your site… or hire someone to do this for you..