Find your voice and get your story straight
Phil Adams : Brand Strategy


Recent brand definition and storytelling work

Most, but not all, of my freelance work is brand strategy for b2b and service businesses. Recent work includes:

  • Brand positioning and campaign planning for an international aid and disaster relief charity.
  • Marketing strategy for an arts organisation.
  • Brand strategy for a charity providing support services to the social enterprise sector.
  • Storytelling, messaging, and copywriting for a marketing services agency.
  • Storytelling, messaging, and copywriting for a high-end legal services start-up.
  • Positioning and proposition work for an NPD project in the alcoholic drinks sector.
  • Brand definition for an international classical music agency.
  • Brand definition and brand identity work for a leading law firm.
  • New brand development for a financial services company.
  • Brand strategy for an IT consultancy firm.
  • Brand definition for an international b2b fintech company.
  • Brand strategy for a SAAS business in the travel sector.
  • Storytelling and messaging for a multi-faceted academic research project.

These are my beliefs about brands.

If you can't remember your values they are not your values

Previous work

I worked the first eighteen years of my career in ad agencies. The next thirteen years were spent in digital marketing agencies. Here is a loosely themed snapshot of some of the projects I have had a hand in, and some of the experience I’ve picked up along the way. This is the most copy-heavy page on the site. I wrote it for potential clients who want some depth to their desk research before making contact.

Tennent’s Lager. What happens when you take the idea of murdering a pint literally.

Advertising, with an inadvertent specialism in Challenger Brands.

Whether by accident or design I have worked with quite a few challenger brands. And I have been involved with some high cut-through challenger ad campaigns. I’ve been fortunate to work with Adam Morgan and Eat Big Fish on a couple of projects.

  • Grolsch (versus Stella Artois)
  • Phileas Fogg (versus the entire premium salty snack market)
  • Business AM (versus the FT, Scotsman and Herald)
  • IRN-BRU (versus Coca Cola)
  • Honda (versus Toyota, Ford etc.)
  • Coors Light (versus Budweiser)
  • Beat 106 (versus Radio 1, Forth FM, Clyde FM)
  • Bailie Nicol Jarvie (versus Famous Grouse et al)

I have also worked on advertising strategy and campaigns for Shell UK, Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, Alpen, Baillie Gifford, Standard Life, Cutty Sark whisky, Tennent’s Lager, ScottishPower, Dunlop Slazenger, Orangina, and Beefeater Steakhouses.

Beat 106 – radio as foreground music not background music

Grolsch – turning the brand truth of ‘brewed longer’ into a long-running campaign idea.

IRN-BRU 48 sheet poster advertisement - "Bitches". Brand definition 1.
IRN-BRU – imagine this at billboard size. The maverick end of the ‘likeable maverick’ spectrum.

Digital marketing

Back in 2006 I helped to found a digital agency called Blonde. That was a year after YouTube launched, a year before the first iPhone, and about the same time that Facebook opened up to everyone over the age of 13. The next few years were like the Wild West of digital marketing. Every single project for every single brand involved both technical and creative innovation. Every project was an experiment. For a short time brands were the most creative content publishers on the internet. Large-scale organic reach was a realistic objective for most campaigns. User-generated content (UGC) ideas actually worked. Social media were life-affirming bastions of humanity. Branded content regularly went genuinely viral.

Grolsch Green Light District website screengrab 2009. Brand definition 2.
Grolsch website back when people actually did engage with consumer brands.

Here, in roughly chronological order, are some of the brands and projects I worked on between 2006 and 2020.

  • Interactive video, immersive online brand experience (The Green Light District), e-CRM, and digital advertising for Grolsch beer.
  • Digital marketing strategy, branded content, community management, online sponsorship activation, and influencer marketing (on Bebo!) for IRN-BRU. (Research paper that I co-authored for the Journal of Direct, Data and Digital Marketing Practice – How IRN-BRU Made Its First Million.)
  • Interactive educational content for Open University.
  • Interactive content and data visualisation for the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).
  • Brand definition, scenario planning and website content strategy for Harrison Parrott.
  • Working with Philippa Gregory to launch her novel The White Queen, which she rewrote as a long series of tweets from the book’s protagonist.
  • Primary research, stakeholder management and scenario planning for My Royal Mail intranet.
  • Social media and content strategy for Royal Mail’s “Gold Medal Stamp” sponsorship of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
  • Audience insight, scenario planning, content strategy for Connect Group PLC intranet.
  • Content strategy and influencer marketing for BASF.
  • Product vision and user story workshops for a major retail bank website.
  • Digital advertising, social media strategy for Baillie Gifford.
  • Digital transformation consultancy for Bowers & Wilkins.
  • Brand definition for TravelNest.

The Bigger Picture. Social media content idea to promote Greg Rutherford's Gold Medal stamp for Royal Mail during London 2012. Brand definition 3.
Social media content for Royal Mail during London 2012, in partnership with Getty Images.