Samphire Magazine Interview


I had the pleasure of meeting up with networking guru John Harvey for lunch at The Alverton Hotel. The Alverton (aka John’s Truro “office”) is an oasis of calm, a wonderful place for lunch, away from the hustle and bustle of town. We talked branding, customer service and how significant business lessons can be gleaned from all sorts of life experiences.


How did you come to be known as a branding expert?

Making the decision to specialise in branding was something that evolved organically, over time. Branding brings together my design background (Foundation from Falmouth University and a BA Hons in Graphic Design from Kingston University) and my ad agency brain. After graduating I worked as a creative, progressing to Art Director and then Creative Director for a number of London advertising agencies including Saatchi & Saatchi, Karmarama and Leo Burnett. Today, coupling creativity with a thorough understanding of commercial impetus helps me produce work that is not only memorable and engaging but is effective at achieving clients’ goals.   


Why do you think branding is so important?

For any business or organisation, getting your brand right takes you back to those all-important first principles – distilling the essence of who you are and how you can best serve your audience.  Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of working with global brands such as IKEA, McDonalds and VH1. I’ve created award-winning work across a wide range of media, from film and TV to print and online, and successful work always comes back to having that absolute clarity of message backed up by a sound strategy.


What brought you back to Cornwall?

After 15 or so years working in London we (myself, my wife and our two kids) had to opportunity to come back to help my mum (former model and ‘60s icon, Jean Shrimpton) run the family hotel, The Abbey in Penzance. I’d loved growing up here and wanted my kids to have the same sort of experience. Moving away from that whole “big agency” thing also meant that I could start my own business – Thad Cox Design – while I was running the family venture.


What’s been the best thing about returning to your roots?

Apart from giving the kids the priceless freedom of a Cornish childhood, I’d say that running the hotel and restaurant made me acutely aware of how important it is to put customers first. And, rather usefully, it’s given me first-hand experience of what happens when people love your brand – they spread the word, they keep coming back and are happy to pay full price! 


Why did you join The Samphire Club and what has membership given you?

I’ve always found word of mouth, referrals and networking, both ‘in-real-life’ and online, to be one of the most effective ways of attracting the right sort of business. The biggest incentive for joining the Club was the people. With The Samphire Club you’ve got a short cut to the decision-makers and influencers – and they’re incredibly talented, knowledgeable and ambitious, something that inspires and spurs me on. As well as that, my personal approach really resonates with the club ethos of sharing knowledge and ideas freely. Networking, like branding, is something you have to be committed to, for the long-term. It’s about understanding that not everyone needs what you’re offering right now, so you need to work at making yourself memorable enough so that when they, or someone they know, needs what you offer, you’ll be their ‘go-to’ person.



What does the future hold?

I’ve got some exciting times ahead. I’ve recently been asked to become a Brand Mentor by Unlocking Potential where I’ll be helping local businesses with their branding and strategy. In March 2018 I’m being flown out to Australia to give a talk at the Emergence Creative Conference in Margaret River, Perth. Closer to home I’m back and forth between Cornwall and London hosting regular branding workshops and…I’ve been invited to sit on a judging panel by Virgin StartUp.

Branding, BusinessThad CoxComment