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Tony Lyons is the Owner, President, and Chief Creative Officer of Alphabet, an advertising, design, and new media creative consultancy. Under his leadership, Alphabet has undertaken major brand re-development projects, creative strategies, and content marketing programs for numerous clients from diverse sectors, including tourism and healthcare.

Tony boasts a career spanning over 30 years in the marketing and advertising industry. He began his career in Ireland, where he held senior designer positions at design and advertising studios such as Young & Rubicam. Tony has presented at various industry conferences, including the Professional Development Institute, the University of Ottawa, and the Government of Canada Public Services and Procurement Canada communications department.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • [03:52] Tony Lyons explains how he got into advertising
  • [06:39] Marketing and why people decide to buy your products
  • [12:18] How Alphabet helps brands reposition themselves for advertisements
  • [17:38] How to align your strategic business goals with your advertisements
  • [22:38] Tony talks about their services and pricing model
  • [31:19] How Alphabet acquired its initial clients and key hires
  • [39:37] Tony discusses how they build and maintain culture
  • [43:06] How to niche down
  • [47:10] Alphabet’s customer success stories
  • [51:00] The value of owning your IP and trademarking your brand

In this episode…

In today’s highly competitive business landscape, advertising has become crucial for any brand’s success. It helps increase brand visibility, build brand awareness, and drive sales and revenue. However, creating compelling ads is not always an easy task, and that’s where an ad agency can help.

Marketing professional Tony Lyons says that by partnering with an expert agency, you can tap into their knowledge, skills, and experience to create unique, powerful, and engaging advertisements that resonate with your target audience and leave a lasting impression. They have the expertise to craft messages that speak directly to your target market and deliver them through various channels, including TV, radio, print, digital, and social media. He shares his journey of building an ad agency to help businesses create a consistent brand image across all platforms and ensure their message reaches the right people at the right time.

On this episode of the Inspired Insider Podcast, Dr. Jeremy Weisz sits down with Tony Lyons, Owner, President, and Chief Creative Officer of Alphabet, to discuss the importance of partnering with an ad agency. Tony explains how he got into advertising, how Alphabet helps brands reposition themselves for advertisements, its pricing model, and other services Alphabet offers.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Special Mention(s):

Related episode(s):

Quotable Moments:

  • “Fear is the only true driver of human behavior.”
  • “If you want transformative change, you can use your brand as a tool for that to happen.”
  • “When you want something to change within an organization, you have to talk to the boss.”
  • “Good advertising will make a bad restaurant go out of business faster.”
  • “I believe that people need to be with people in order to maximize their potential, especially in the creative field.”

Sponsor for this episode

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Episode Transcript

Intro 0:01

You are listening to Inspired Insider with your host, Dr. Jeremy Weisz.

Jeremy Weisz 0:22

Dr. Jeremy Weisz here founder of where I talk with inspirational entrepreneurs and leaders today is no different. I have Tony Lyons of Alphabet Creative. And Tony, I always like to point out other episodes people should check out of the podcast. Since this is probably the top agency series, the one I did with Ian Garlic was very interesting. He runs He helps people tell their customer stories. He talks about some stories of where he got that entrepreneurial spirit of his dad started a restaurant and had live dolphins in that restaurant, Tony now. He’s in Orlando now. That would be weird. Not as weird as his dad’s restaurants in Wisconsin, having live dolphins. That’s really weird. Okay. But lots of cool stories like that, check it out. I also did one with, actually two with Jason Swenk and Jason Swenk actually talked about building up his agency to over eight figures and selling it and then his new company that has been buying up agencies, and how they’ve been doing that, and the valuation the landscape and everything like that. And obviously, he’s got he’s got a group of top of agency owners that collaborate and help each other as well. So check that episode out more on And on this episode is brought to you by Rise25. At Rise25, we help businesses give to and connect to their dream 100 relationships. And how do we do that, we actually help you run your podcast, we’re an easy button for a company to launch and run a podcast. And we do the strategy, the accountability and the full execution. Tony, we call ourselves kind of magic elves that work in the background and make it look easy for the hosts in the company. So they could just run their company, create great relationships and create great content. And for me, the number one thing in my life is relationships. I’m always looking at ways to give to my best relationships. And I found no better way over the past decade to profile the people and companies I most admire and share with the world what they’re working on. So if you’ve thought about podcasting, you should if you have questions, you can go to and learn more. And I’m excited to introduce Tony Lyons. He’s president and chief strategy officer at Alphabet. You can find them at Tony’s career spans over 26 years. I don’t mean to date you, Tony at all, not actually more than that. Okay. 29 years how long?

Tony Lyons 2:52

It’s north of 30.

Jeremy Weisz 2:54

North of 30. Okay. You’re not that gray yet. So it’s good, north of 30 in the advertising and design industry on both sides of the Atlantic and Alphabet Creative is an advertising design and new media creative consultancy. Their focus is really communication. That’s clear, concise, and that messages are delivered from a unique angle. And Tony, you started as a cartoonist.

Tony Lyons 3:21

I did. Yeah. So I got a job right out of high school. Actually, I did some college training, but I got a job right at high school at a design studio. And it was the 80s. So computers weren’t really a thing, at least in Ireland, like they were beginning like desktop Macs were beginning on North America, but it was pad and paper stuff, so got a job.

Jeremy Weisz 3:48

What did you want to do when you were younger. Did you want to be a cartoonist?

Tony Lyons 3:52

No, I was fascinated by advertising. I always was because, when I was growing up in Ireland, like there was only two channels. I remember in the very beginning, and then we got four, and then maybe five. And so I wasn’t really interested in the shows because it was all boring news stuff. But I was fascinated by the hands that happened between the shows, and Ireland in the 80s, it still a rural country, but like it was it was extremely agricultural. So people watching new shows were farmers and what are farmers interested in? They’re interested in farm stuff, right? So, animal pharmaceuticals, all this kind of stuff, which you think is boring, but these creative minds wrapped these stories around, sort of Clint Eastwood looking characters walking into a saloon kicking the door open with a bag of sheep dip over their shoulder and surrounded down on the table and all of the bad guys looking around and give me tuna matchstick and stuff and I just thought it was like, it was so absurdly funny but yet, really interesting, and I’m sure their production quality was absolutely terrible. But in my mind as an eight or nine-year-old, I thought it was really interesting, and then we got access to some of the British shows when we got BBC, and British advertising is, I think, probably at that time was the best in the world? It probably still is. I mean, I think yeah, certain markets in the states have caught up a little bit, but some European markets, but the Brits have a very interesting sensibility and a very interesting sense of humor, and that translated into, into advertising, like you can tell the culture of a country by looking at its advertising, you really can, it’s a litmus test of the culture of that country. And they’re funny, like, the Brits are funny, right? So that the ads were funny and clever, and the jingles stick with me today, even when I’m, like, I’m 53. I just came back from Ireland, I was over for a family wedding. And I met with some buddies and we had a beer. And we still sing the jingles from the TV spots when we were kids as a joke, and it’s so resonant. And they’re deeply embedded mnemonics in our and our brains, which I find really, really interesting.

Jeremy Weisz 6:18

Who have you studied over the years in advertising that you like, it could be actually a mentor that you know, or not, by the way, like you were saying, I think, if you can make, I guess, animal pharmaceuticals, interesting than you can do anything but who have you studied?

Tony Lyons 6:39

Well, it would be less individuals, there’d be collections of people for sure. And the work of certain agencies. But really, my I guess you could call it a field of study or interest would be the biology of why people make decisions, right. And I’ve worked with some neuroscientists at some universities here in Ottawa, at the mental health center here, too. And I’ve discussed that pretty much at length, like why people make decisions, and it’s a whole, like, neuromarketing is a whole field that I don’t claim to be an expert in. But over the years, what I’ve really gained a lot of interest, and I’ve done a bunch of research, and was the triggers of why people actually do things like how you can influence behavior, with messaging and marketing. And I think it really behooves anybody who’s trying to make somebody do something or feel something, or behave a certain way to understand like, well, what can I say, to make them change their mind or to behave a certain way? So, I’ve broken it down into very simple, I guess, in mnemonic that we worked through with our clients, and I’ve tested it, and I’ve tested it with some of the neuroscientists and I have a podcast actually myself, called Flipping Over Rocks, if I can give it a bit of a plug, check it out. And I spoke with artists, I’ve spoken with neuroscientists, I’ve spoken with professors, and really trying to get to the root of how creativity can drive. What is creativity? First of all, how can it drive decision-making for people as it relates to brand marketing? Yeah, so we’ll talk about the mnemonic. Okay, so what we call it is trust, love and logic, right? If you think about the things that are going to drive, human behavior or decision, think about it. First of all, I need to trust you what that means. And trust doesn’t mean in the true sense of the word I need to at least recognize you, right. So that’s how top-of-funnel advertising works, it probably won’t make you buy something right there and then, but when you’re in a position to buy it, and you’re ready to do it, you will remember that brand that product, and because you recognize it, you’re more inclined to engage with it. The second one is love. And that’s really is just about creating an emotional connection in the mind of the consumer. So that could be joy. It could be surprise, it could be delight. But it could also be fear. Fear is a very good driver of human behavior. In fact, a lot of neuroscientists say it’s the only true driver of human behavior. And I used to challenge that because I’m a hopeful person that I don’t like negative advertising, and I don’t like that kind of stuff. So I challenged people on it. And I said to the neuroscientists, well, if fear is the only real driver of behavior, why does Nike or Adidas or Apple create these joyful messages and try to get you to engage with them with this surprise and delight? And the simple answer is, it’s the fear of missing out. If I don’t have it, I’m afraid that I’d be left out of the tribe that does have it. And that’s the reason it’s the it is really about fear at the end of the day, but as much as if I know you and as much as if I surprise and delight me, I still have to have a rational decision, I still have to rationalize my decision through logic right. Now, most often, what people don’t like to admit is that that logical rationale is opposed rationale. So they’ll say, I bought the BMW because it is the safest vehicle, it’s reliable. No, you didn’t, you bought the BMW, because you wanted to have a BMW as a status symbol. That’s why you bought it, and your post rationalizing it with this fake logic. But there is a lot of times where actually most of the time where people are looking for some form of specific, pragmatic, rational logical decision, or logical reason to make their decision. But it’s much lower on the scale than the other two, of trust and love, they all play a role. And depending on where you are in the food chain, or who you are, or what you’re trying to get people to do, you need to pull one of those triggers, more or less, but you have to recognize all of them. And you have to recognize them because they are the ecosystem of decision-making. So that’s kind of like, that’s the hypothesis. It’s not really a hypothesis. It’s pretty well established, I think, and in marketing pylons and the neuromarketing, as well.

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