Khalid Mokhtarzada - Branding and Culture ExpertWe recently had the pleasure of interviewing Khalid Mokhtarzada, co-founder of the Toronto-based branding and design agency Pixel Dreams.

1. What inspired you to start Pixel Dreams?
I started Pixel Dreams because I wanted work to feel more like home, and my peers to feel like brothers and sisters. I truly believe that a working space can be family oriented, and I think Pixel Dreams does a pretty good job at proving that.

Another reason being is that I wanted the ability to pick and choose the type of work I did. At Pixel Dreams, we have the pleasure of working with awesome clients, and the time and flexibility to work on creative and collaborative internal projects from art installations to hosting some pretty memorable events (Fire-breather? Yeah. We did that.).

2. How is Pixel Dreams different from other Canadian branding and design agencies?
We’re hot. No, really. You can lick us, and you’ll find as most people do, that we’re actually quite spicy and delicious. Ask around.

Almost all our business comes from referrals. In a very short period of time, our agency has had the pleasure to work in a diverse range of industries in Asia, Africa, Europe, Australia, and across North America. We have a keen ability in understanding our clients’ deeper selves, and bringing that out through authentic branding to create business success.

Pixel Dreams

3. What is the most rewarding aspect of running an agency? What’s the most challenging one?
Most rewarding: Making a difference in peoples’ lives.
Most challenging: Saying no to the many awesome projects that we come up with, or is presented to us.

4. Who are your personal heroes?
My mother and stepfather. I owe more than a few novels worth to them. After that, my wife Lannie. I’ve never met a person that can tackle being a super-mom-creative-director-partner-and-best-friend, and still look hot everyday.

5. What gives you creative inspiration?
Changing the world. Creating culture.

6. Tell us about the Friducation events your agency organizes.
Friducation has become the word we use to describe the action and desire for experimentation, adventure, learning, and growing. We typically celebrate Friducation on Fridays for half to a full day. Depending on the theme of the week, we could be taking part in silent reading, inviting a speaker to do a talk, studio-yoga, or going out on an adventure. Some past away-missions include the Science Centre, ROM, paintballing, and more. And of course, every Friday we watch at least one episode of Star Trek.

7. What skills does a person need to succeed in the digital marketing industry?
One: The ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn.  Two: The guts to be truly creative. Three: The brains to know how to provide value. Four: The drive to continue to grow and self teach. five: The audacity to never give up.

8. What books and/or blogs would you recommend for someone interested in the digital marketing field?

Yikes. This is a tough one since the ‘digital marketing field’ is quite diverse. How about some of my favourite books?
Great by Choice, Jim Collins
The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John C. Maxwell
Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell
How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie
Think & Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill

9. What are the top 3 branding and digital marketing trends that we can expect to see in the near future?
Personal Branding
More than ever, the desire to be unique has become a conscious effort, and struggle. Regardless of age and creed, people are looking for ways to stick out from the rest. With social sites like Klout and YouTube, the desire to have a strong personal brand that commands social status is not just profitable, but essential to one’s online (and offline) identity.

Creating Culture
Traditional push marketing isn’t cutting it. The ultimate fantasy of every brand is (or should be) to have a strong cultural presence within society. Brand culture anchors the consumers’ psyche to your products better than Google Adwords or the Super Bowl can. When thinking culture – think brands like Apple, Nike, and LuLuLemon. These brands don’t have customers; they have loyalists and fans. Each of these examples have effectively carved out a subculture for themselves.

Brand Accountability
Brands are quickly realizing that being accountable is not a nice-to-have, but a cultural necessity. Transparency is more than a buzzword, but a paradigm shift in the consciousness of consumers’ demands.  Social media reputation is continuously increasing in importance. Brands are realizing that corporate policy must be flexible now that thousands can rally on a dime and petition you in or out of the game.

Khalid Mokhtarzada is the Founder and CEO of Pixel Dreams. He lives and breathes branding and culture. He has one wife, one son, and a monkey named Kendrick who works out of the office. You can connect with him on Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram.
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Tagged with: Branding, Creativity, Design, Digital Marketing, Khalid Mokhtarzada, Pixel Dreams, Toronto

About Alex Rascanu

Alex Rascanu is a digital marketing strategist and speaker. Director of Online New Business Development at The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation. Founder of EVENTS&. Organizer of the Marketers Unbound event series.