3 minutes with Gary

Brand strategy

3 minutes with Gary

I’d like to see an empty chair at every ExCo or Board meeting as a reminder that brands are about that invisible space between you and your audience.

You’re an industry veteran? 

Yes, I’ve been around.

I think that being a so-called veteran helps our clients. I’m able to quickly process challenges and find solutions. My background includes heading sales, marketing, business development, product development and brand portfolios. My passion is brand strategy but I’d like to think that my wider experience makes for more relevant and insightful brand strategies.

If you could have chosen another path, what would you be? 

A graphic designer.

I’m a graphic designer college drop out. I was doing OK but they told me that I was too creative or loose, I lacked technical awareness. They felt that I would be great at fine art or illustration. I sulked for a week and then left. But they were right. That honesty led to a somewhat winding but fulfilling road that led me to start Sherpa.

One of the highlights of my day is to watch Claire, Sherpa’s Creative Director and an exceptional graphic designer, and her team presenting work.

Role models? 

Quite a few in my corporate life. Micky Duncan. Brian Findlay. Phillip Scheel. Phillip Wessels. Maybe not household names but they are all legends to me.

Then, most of Sherpa’s clients – entrepreneurs who have built great businesses or are leaders of top corporates. Every interaction with them is like a module in a continuous learning programme. Hopefully, we provide the same value.

Steve Jobs of course but my ‘heroes’ are mostly brands – charismatic brands like Nike and Apple, way ahead of their time. 

What gets you out of bed each day? 

The prospect of good coffee.

But seriously, what we do is like sport. The lure of helping our clients to outperform their competitors is a siren. Create a position that cannot be substituted. Outperforming them in that most competitive of battlegrounds, the digital marketing space. It’s a thrill to know that you’re up against a competitor’s brand agency that is equally keen to outperform your client. Brand strategy is a high energy sport.

You’re serious about the empty chair at ExCo meetings? 

Yes, every company – big or small – must believe that they can become a recognised brand, whether that’s nationally, in their region, town or sector. Looking at the Sherpa analogy, getting to the top of Mount Everest is something that few people will attempt or achieve, so that creates an open field for the bold and ambitious.

To do this, the brand needs to prevail in every conversation.

I’d like to see an empty chair at every ExCo or Board meeting as a reminder that brands are about that invisible space between you and your audience. Every decision taken or not taken impacts on that space, the place where your brand lives.



Sherpa Brand & Design Agency
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