Former SAS man recruited to help wage branding war
A retired SAS officer is using his military experience to advise the likes of Ben Sherman and watch maker Suunto on branding strategy after a chance meeting at a dinner party.
The officer, who cannot be named for fear of compromising serving comrades, is working with branding agency Fresh Britain to help wage war in the theatre of marketing.
The company’s founder Bob Sheard said: “My wife and I were dining with this anonymous gentleman and he was talking a lot of sense about strategy. He pointed out how much businesses spend on research when their focus should actually be on intelligence. We thought he would be great.”
The ex-SAS commander, who now works as a consultant for Fresh Britain, brings years of combat experience having seen action in some of the world’s most dangerous warzones including Iraq and Afghanistan. However, he never meets clients as doing so would compromise his anonymity.
In strategy videos for brands such as Ben Sherman, the colonel speaks about how battlefield strategies can work for modern brands.
Sheard said: “I knew he would be a great asset to our clients. Obviously there have been challenges making things work, protecting his anonymity being the primary one. He is doing us a huge favour appearing in our videos and his privacy is our priority.”
Both Sheard and the former SAS man draw on military strategists to implement their plans.
Sheard added: “When I was younger I read the Art of War and I found it fascinating to see the similarities between branding campaigns and the warfare strategy outlined in the book. Deconstructing both your brand and your competition draws distinct parallels with the principles of knowing yourself and your enemy.”
In a three-minute video for Fresh Britain, the SAS officer outlines his thoughts on creating an effective strategy either on the battlefield or in the marketplace.
He says in the video: “Strategy is the essential link between politics and tactics. It is the marriage of ends, ways and means – your goals, your actions and your resources. Strategy is formed by individuals but it is implemented by armies. Clarity from your leadership on the strategy will lead to conviction from your troops in implementing tactics and that will bring success on the battlefield.”
Referencing the military principles of 18th century strategist Carl Von Clausewitz, he highlights the significance on knowing your brand when entering the market battleground.
“In warfare, Clausewitz spoke of the trinity being the government, the military and the people. In a commercial setting that would be the board, the brand and the consumer. In the crucible of war it is the mix of these three that will determine the outcome and if you don’t understand yourself, you’ll not be able to perform,” he said.
This is not the first time a company has tapped the military for talent. In 2014, taxi giant Uber signed up the former commander of forces in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal to join its veterans committee.