I’m James Souttar

I’m a brand strategist and communication consultant. For more than two decades I’ve helped many different kinds of organisations understand themselves better and express this understanding as a corporate brand. I’ve worked across sectors, from financial services to government, and from the professions to the social economy, with a particular focus on higher education. My consulting skills consist in getting people to open up in interviews and workshops, in perceiving patterns in what they tell me, and in representing these patterns in ways that the organisation’s audiences find recognisable, distinctive, relevant, insightful, authentic and inspiring. I build simple, rich and resonant brands.

In 2005 I was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Middlesex University for my role in rebranding the University.

What I offer

proposals and presentations that engage clients and win business. I can also help you develop an effective and systematic approach for your tendering and pitch materials.
interviews and perceptions studies which get to the heart of the matter and win people’s support. I’m particularly adept at drawing the c-suite into enjoyable and productive conversations.
communications audits of client, competitor and comparitor brands, identifying strengths and weaknesses, spotting opportunites and drawing conclusions for ongoing development.
workshops that stimulate participants to share knowledge and come up with creative responses. Over the years I’ve developed a range of tools and approaches to get the best out of groups.
brand strategy which stakeholders recognise as authentic, compelling and distinctive. I listen carefully to clients’ stories, looking for what gives them their energy and fascination.
verbal identity developing succinct, simple and arresting propositions that ‘keep it real’, creating secondary messaging and tone of voice guidelines, and writing for print and web.
creative translation working closely with your creative team to translate ideas into memorable experiences for audiences. Because nobody sees strategy — only the executions which deliver it.
brand hierarchy sorting out the confusion and accretions that affect brands over time, especially in the relationships between parent and sub-brands and in ventures with third parties.
client direction I have a keen awareness of organisational politics, I’m good at building client relationships and I enjoy negotiating agreements between people with different perspectives.
engagement I can help you plan spectacular or low-key launches, deliver launch events, presentations and surgeries, and develop guidelines and other brand management materials.
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What others have said

‘I honestly never heard Governors use the word excellent so easily and instinctively. They are very good at being unexcited! They were so impressed. By James’ presentation, of course, but you’d all put so much in to make sure the presentation could be that good.’
Marie Owens
Director of Communications
Middlesex University
‘Middlesex has a vision of where it wants to be — and, unlike many of its rivals, a communications strategy that links back to this goal.’
Financial Times
Perceptions of Royal Mail, as evidenced by the new forms, will shift massively in a positive direction.’
Conway Smith Rose
Market research report on the Royal Mail forms project
‘I truly believe we have a brand that we can be proud of and this project has been hugely successful. We’ve achieved something incredible here and the new brand is an important step forward for the University. We’ve really enjoyed working with you. And your expertise, experience and talent has been invaluable — especially in the darker days!’
Angelina Bingley
Head of Marketing Communications
University of Southampton
‘The Vice-Chancellor was over the moon! James was really switched-on and his work was superb. ’
Caroline Dowler
Acting Head of Marketing & Communications
Southampton Solent University

I also offer workshops, training and coaching on the human aspects of branding, including: why congruence matters, rebuilding trust, new ways of seeing, communicating across boundaries and nurturing healthy cultures.

Thinking and writing

I have taught, lectured and written extensively about brand, communication and design (including being consultant lecturer at Central Saint Martins and Virginia Commonwealth University). My work has been published in eye, Revolution, Critique, Marketing Business and XYZ. I produce a regular digest of new thinking and valuable resources — if you’d like to subscribe, please sign up below.

Get in touch

I work on a freelance basis with brand, communication and design agencies. I’m based in East Dulwich, in South East London.

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