February 2020


Being female.

Must be quite hard.

If this excerpt from ‘Adults’ by Emma Jane Unsworth is anything to go by.


This is a mother talking.

To her 35 year old daughter:

‘Oh, my darling,’ she says, into my hair.

‘At least I only had to try and look like Twiggy.

You’ve go to sing and dance and fuck and work and mother and sparkle and equalise and not complain and be beautiful and love your imperfections and stay strong and show your vulnerability and bake and box and pull fucking pork.

It’s much too much.’

Fair point.

(This passage was highlighted to me by North of England Guardian Editor, Helen Pidd).

Buy ADULTS here.

If you are worried about the world.

Worried about how we treat each other.

And worried about how we treat it.

This is a good song to listen to.

As you pause.

And ponder what we all could do to make things better.

Antony and the Johnsons. 

I find most music by Antony and the Johnsons very thought provoking.

Because each time she sings.

It’s like she is telling me how she feels.

I feel like this about a song called ‘Another World’.


Here’s a live version

From 2009. 


I get asked a lot about brand.

What is brand?

Why is it important?

How does it work?


I read something this week.

That Seth Godin wrote.

And I thought it was neat.

So I stole a bit of it.


Seth’s writing was not actually about brand.

It was about flowers.

He wrote:

Flowers don’t love us.

And he is right of course.

What flowers do do though.

Is remind us that the person who bought them for us loves us.

And from there (excuse the pun) blooms the  bigger story.

Because just from looking at the flowers we are given.

We storytell.


The story we tell ourself is about him or her standing in the florist.

Or at the supermarket.

Or at the petrol station.

Taking the time out.

For you.

Staring at the display.




Then coolly.

Or sheepishly.

Or awkwardly.

Or lovingly.

Or enthusiastically.

Presenting the flowers to you.

And that lovely little story you tell yourself as you look at the flowers.

It plays over and over.

As you pause your life to tell it to yourself.

And to listen to yourself.

And to smile.


Well; that’s how brand works.

Because just like the story is built into flowers.

Stories are built into brands.

And the more personal and vivid the story.

The better the brand.


And so it is that I get asked a lot about brand.

What is brand?

Why is it important?

How does it work?

And now I have the answer.


They’re like flowers.

When I was 20(ish).

Around 1991.

My first business turned over £36,000.

And the two of us that ran it took home about £2,400 a year each.

When I was 23 I joined the McDonald’s graduate programme on £13,000.

When I was 25 I joined Project North East on about £18,000 as a trainer and business consultant.

When I was 27 I set up Building up Business, a business support programme in the North East of England, and I was paid £25,000.

When I was 27 I worked at Universities in the evening too, earning an additional £5,000.

When I was 29 I worked for Sunderland University and was paid £40,000.

When I was 30 I ran a new business and was paid £0 for 2 years.

When I was 32 I was running my own businesses and was paid £6,000 a year.

When I was 34 I was running my own business and was paid £20,000 a year.

When I was 36 I was running my own business and was paid £50,000 a year.

When I was 37 I was running my own business and was paid £80,000 a year.

When I was 38 (it was 2008) I was running my own business and was paid £20,000 a year.

When I was 39 I was running my own business and was paid £40,000 a year.

When I was 39 a client bumped me for £26,000.

When I was 40 I was running my own business and was paid around £100,000 a year.

When I was 40 I sold shares in one business for £26,000.

When I was 42 I was running my own business and was paid around £80,000 a year.

When I was 45 I closed most of my businesses and was paid £25,000 a year.

When I was 47 I was learning a new way of working and running businesses and was paid £10,000 a year.

When I was 47 I invested over £50,000 in building the Always Wear Red brand.

When I was 49 I was starting to work out what’s what and was paid around £20,000 a year.

When I was 50 I was stabilising my new world and I was paid around £40,000 a year.

Now I am 51 I am further stabilising my new world and I am being paid quite well.

I am balancing the figure I am on now with how happy I am.

I am thinking about with what it is that I am doing to earn it.

But I do like thinking about this.

Because more than anything.

I want to be happy.

Rich Man. Poor Man. 

The happiest times in my life.

So – in other words – the times that I was richest were:

  1. When I built my first business.
    (I was earning £2,400 a year).
  2. When I was 34 and felt that my businesses were working.
    (I was earning £20,000 a year).
  3. When I was 47 and building something new.
    (I was earning £10,000 a year).
  4. Potentially now. (But I have to be careful because I am a bit confused about how to spend my time at the moment. I have to make sure that I am working with people that allow me to do my best work. This is important to me. Because it is the only way that I can be important to them).

What next?

I am not sure exactly what to do next.

Some things will stay the same.

Some will change.

But I do know that I want to be happy.

So I am going to (largely) ignore the money.

And work out the best way to be rich, instead.

If all of your work feels like you’re busking.

That’s probably wrong.

But if none of your work feels like you’re busking.

That’s worse.

When I write 50odd it feels like busking.



Trying things.

Learning things.

Some stories feel smart and polished.

And they turn out exactly as I’d like.

Whereas others feel a little weaker.

But they are all necessary.

Because when I am busking.

I am learning.


I’m the Principal Consultant at ANGELFYSH.

ANGELFYSH is a 15 year old Brand Consultancy.

And I work with clients all over the UK.

Simplify. Codify. Storify.

I help clients to Simplify.


And Storify.

Simplify means my clients stop over-complicating and over-communicating, because we find out what the brand really is all about.

Codify means creating frameworks and systems so that the brand can be more easily brought to life across the organisation.

And Storify means I storytell across multiple, coherent media.

(That’s design, marketing, copywriting and more).

But I have to admit that even when I am doing all of this.

Some of the time.

Quite a lot of the time in fact.

I am busking here, too.

I am exploring.

And experimenting.

And creating.

And imagining.

And that’s just the way it should be.

Because whilst the brand theory of Reis and Trout is important to know.

Imagination, spontaneous interpretation, the ability to see and maximise opportunity and a craving for adventure are all important too.

It’s where confident and creative bravery comes from.

And the ability to build and tell a story well.


So think about it.

You can tell when you’re busking.

You can feel it.

And it feels good.

Because you’re not worrying about being judged.

You’re just creating.

And I can highly recommend it.

Because busking is when the magic happens.

For some businesses.

The Process is the Point.


And when this is the case.

There is a job to do.

It’s to tell the story of the process.

And the creativity.



And well.

Make it Matter.

You have to make the process matter.

You have to make the process matter to them.

Just as much as it matters to you.

Always Wear Red.

Three years into Always Wear Red.

I worked with a dozen or so of the UK’s best makers.

Makers that make for Gucci.

Louis Vuitton.

The British Royal Family.

Kate Moss.

Mick Jagger.

And me.

Four Years.

Four years into Always Wear Red and I shifted focus.

I changed what I make.

So I changed makers.

And I changed how I design and create things.

It’s cost me thousands.

But I know why I’ve done it.

It’s so the jumpers I make last a lifetime.

And feel amazing.

And so that Always Wear Red jumpers encourage the wearer to relax and zone out and switch off.

I wanted them to fit anyone at all amazingly well.

So the shapes are gender-neutral.

The pilling is minimised because I changed the yarn in January 2020.

And they only need to be washed once or twice a year.

Because that’s the way it is with 100% Merino Wool.

I want people that own Always Wear Red jumpers to love them.

So they are something that the owner will want to actually wear.

And share.

And repair.

And the only way I can make sure that all of this happens.

Is by focusing hard on process.

September 2020.

The first Always Wear Red jumpers are ready in September 2020.

So between now and then.

I will be amplifying the process.

Because for Always Wear Red’s jumpers.

For so many reasons.

The Process is the Point.