CEO AMERICAS, BRAND UNION, NEW YORK NY
During his seven-year tenure at Brand Union, Toby Southgate has been part of the Brand Union leadership teams in Europe, the Middle East, and North America. Based in London for the past three years, he drove the agency’s UK and Ireland business, developing global client relationships with Vodafone, GSK, and RBS Group, expanding the agency’s digital capabilities, and establishing a partnership with Digit, the brand interaction consultancy. Now in New York, Toby heads operations across the Americas. His experience includes financial services, FMCG, real estate, and luxury goods sectors, with specific expertise in the development of global brand management programs for both external communications and internal engagement. Since joining Brand Union, Toby has led large-scale initiatives for clients including, SONY, Pernod Ricard, The Absolut Company, Reckitt Benckiser, BlackRock, and the government of the UAE. Toby was born in London, and educated at Millfield School and The University of Edinburgh where he studied economics and history. He has lived in six different countries, and has a passion for playing cricket, hockey, and golf and for everything Italian – food, culture, and cars in particular.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE A YOUNG DESIGNER JUST STARTING OUT?
1. Think broadly, you are a citizen of the world.
2. Define your reference points early. Be clear on the things you admire, and be clear on why you admire them.
3. Be bold and act fast. The world is changing more rapidly than ever. Fast beats perfect.
HOW DOES WHERE YOU WERE BORN, GREW UP OR LIVE NOW EFFECT YOUR DESIGN SENSIBILITY OR STYLE?
Principles of great design thinking are universal. Your environment, your heritage, your family, the way you explore the world round you … all these things form your influences whether you’re aware of them or not.
FAVORITE TV SHOW?
I don’t really watch tv anymore. Suits is entertaining.
Anything by Aleksandar Hemon, Paul Auster or Jonathan Franzen
Anything by the Coen Brothers, Wes Anderson, Paul Thomas Anderson, Michael Winterbottom, Chris Nolan
FAVORITE MUSICIANS OR BANDS?
New Order, Talking Heads, Bombay Bicycle Club, Spiritualize, Stone Roses, TV on the Radio, SBTRKT, Daughter, James Murphy/LCD Soundsystem, Underworld. Unashamedly a Fleetwood Mac fan.
FAVORITE FINE ARTISTS?
I don’t like or recognize the descriptor so my answer is purely personal. Donald Judd. Wim Crouwel. Steve McQueen. Ed Ruscha. Richard Serra. Nick Knight. Herzog & De Meuron.
GREATEST STRENGTH AS A DESIGNER?
I’m not a designer in purist terms. I am a passionate design thinker – the discipline of design and creative thinking can change the way organizations run, the way people live, the choices people make.
Same as above
TALENT YOU WISHED YOU POSSESSED?
Draw, sing, play guitar. I can do none of these things.
IF YOU WERE NOT A DESIGNER, WHAT WOULD YOU BE?
A designer. But that could mean architect, writer, film maker, painter, graphic artist.
A MANTRA OR SAYING YOU LIVE BY?
Treat everyone the way you would like to be treated.